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Iowa Supreme Court approves of closing of floating bar at West Okoboji

Iowa Supreme Court
Iowa Supreme Court

DES MOINES – The Iowa Supreme Court recently affirmed the efforts of the City of Okoboji, Iowa to enforce zoning restrictions on a property located on the shore of West Lake Okoboji in reference to a floating bar called the Fish House Lounge that was operating at the location.

A district court has previously ruled that operating of the bar amounted to a nonconforming use of the property in violation of the City’s zoning regulations. In February 2010, after the Fish House Lounge had been in operation for a period of time, the City brought a second action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The district court granted the City relief. The district court found that the Fish House Lounge cannot cruise the lake during winter months, has no regular cruise schedule, and is rarely seen cruising the lake. It found that though the Fish House Lounge has small restroom facilities, patrons are asked to use the restroom facilities on the marina property.

City officials argued that the Fish House Lounge violated residential zoning rules and increased traffic and noise at the location.

Fish House owner Leo Parks argued that in addition to state sovereignty and statutory preemption arguments, whether the City of Okoboji as a matter of local law has the power to assert its zoning authority over the Fish House Lounge.

The court’s ruling means that owner Leo Parks will not be able to use his marina on West Lake Okoboji to operate the Fish House Lounge.

Fish House photo from
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