City denies disabled vet’s plan for iPad-controlled smart home

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Taylor Morris, a Navy veteran who was injured defusing a bomb in Afghanistan, and his wife want to build a “smart home” in Cedar Falls, Iowa, that he can operate with a mobile device.  The property they want to buy is zoned for agriculture.  The Cedar Falls city council has denied the Morrisses’ request to have it rezoned residential.

It’s hard to judge a rezoning application without seeing the actual plans.  However, the reasons for the denial (as reported by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier) are flimsy.  The main reason cited is that approval would have “set a bad precedent.”  This is specious because there probably isn’t a backlog of rezoning applications from quadriplegic war veterans in the Cedar Falls zoning department.  If a similar application came through by somebody without a disability, the city could justify a different decision based on the difference circumstances of the applicants.

The second stated reason for denial is that the property is too difficult to access for providing public services.  That is probably a legitimate concern assuming the site is tricky for trash pick-up, police, fire service, etc.  However, the city has in their long-term plans an objective to rezone the area to residential anyway.  Wouldn’t approval help Cedar Falls make progress toward their own plan?

I really hope that city officials will redouble their efforts to work with the veteran and his wife.  Mr. Morris is trying to take advantage of technological innovations on the market to live a more comfortable life with his family.  It’s the kind of residential development that most communities would want to promote.

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