Man says Davenport zoning issue may shutter his business of 25 years

TV6 Investigates takes a closer look at a lawsuit over the matter that’s in court
Man says Davenport zoning issue may shutter his business of 25 years
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 5:47 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The owner of a Davenport landscaping company said the city is forcing him out of business over a zoning dispute.

The city’s zoning board sets rules for how land can be used, and it says JC Landscaping’s location in rural West Davenport isn’t zoned for its operations.

At issue is about 20 acres in rural West Davenport where Jim Capranos runs JC Landscaping and Maintenance – a company that’s been in business for about 25 years. The company employs about 35 workers in the summer and 75 in the winter.

But the city’s zoning board says his land isn’t suited for his trucks and the facilities he’s built as part of the company’s tree- and snow-removal services.

Man worries Davenport zoning issue will shutter his business

The city says the area is zoned for a landscaping business, but not the tree- and snow-removal part of the company.

“It’s basically trees and snow, is what their complaint is, basically,” Capranos said. “We’ve been doing it for 25 years. We normally mow, and we put plows on the trucks in the winter and do our snow plowing.”

Their trucks are easy to spot around town, mowing grass and plowing snow for places like Costco and Home Depot and more than 30 apartment complexes. They also trim trees and provide landscape design.

Capranos said the city has known about the business for a long time, even hiring it to do some landscaping. He questions why it’s cracking down now.

“I’m getting a little older now, I’d rather not buy another piece of property and do a pole building and start all over again, at this point.”

Capranos also points out the city has issued him business licenses with no complaints. He says he also got city permits to build and expand his pole barn.

For its part, the city argues that Capranos ignored zoning rules and expanded to include 25 commercial vehicles, multiple trailers and pieces of heavy equipment.

In court documents, the city argued:

“(Capranos’) circumstances are of his own making. Plaintiff moved his business to the subject property when it was already zoned agricultural. He made no inquiry as to whether the operation of the tree removal and snow removal business would constitute a permitted use … "

This case has been in court for about two years. Lawyers summed up their arguments last month, and a decision is expected soon.

Capranos lives on the property. He said he hasn’t decided what he’ll do if he loses – try to sell the business, move it, or close up shop.