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After hearing another batch of public comments – mostly from opponents – about the Cedar Rapids Country Club’s plan to install new tennis courts and a temporary seasonal structure to facilitate year-round use, the Cedar Rapids City Council gave final approval Tuesday to a modified site plan modification that paves the way for the project’s construction. The council voted 5-2 in favor of the club’s plan, with council members Patrick Loeffler and Ashley Vanorny – who had previously raised concerns about the project – voting against approval. As with previous council consideration of the plan, council members Marty Hoeger and Ann Poe recused themselves from Tuesday’s vote, citing potential financial conflicts. Under the plan, the Country Club plans to build a new tennis complex at 550 27th Street Drive SE, at the west edge of the club’s property. Country Club officials have touted the project as an amenity for club members and a potential draw for tennis tournaments, but a number of neighboring property owners have objected to the plan for a variety of reasons, including concerns about noise and lighting, proximity to homeowners’ properties and a sentiment that an inflatable “bubble” structure is incompatible with the neighborhood’s historic character. The project first came before the council in June 2022. After a series of hotly-debated meetings, the council voted unanimously to approve a development proposal for the construction of an indoor tennis facility and reconfiguration of parking areas and the club’s driving range onto 185 acres along Fairway Terrace and Country Club Parkway SE, on property already owned by the club, and a separate proposal to vacate a portion of Fairway Terrace SE. However, the Cedar Rapids Country Club later withdrew the indoor facility plan, a brick building designed to blend with the country club’s main clubhouse, after members determined the building wasn’t financially feasible. The country club’s plan now comprises four outdoor tennis courts, a temporary inflatable bubble structure to enclose the courts for up to six months per year – essentially from October through April, to facilitate year-round play – and a permanent tennis clubhouse near the courts. Under the modified proposal, construction of a full indoor tennis facility would remain an option for the future. The Cedar Rapids Planning Commission voted 3-3 on the proposal in early June, recommending denial of the project. Since the Planning Commission’s meeting, the country club changed key plan elements, moving the tennis courts slightly east and adding a half aisle of parking between adjacent homes and the tennis courts. The council voted July 11 to table the issue to allow country club leaders to further modify their plan, and Country Club representatives met with neighborhood residents and council member Scott Overland, who represents the area, to address ongoing concerns. After that meeting, the club made further modifications to their plan – removing an access road to 27th Street Drive and adding a full six-foot privacy fence with vegetation to minimize the facility’s visibility from adjacent properties. “The country club is really working very hard to ensure that the neighbors understand what we’re doing,” Lydia Brown, representing the country club’s board of directors, said at an earlier meeting about the project. “We want to listen to their concerns, while still meeting the needs of the members as well as creating additional community assets and amenities in order to attract and retain top talent in the marketplace.” Still, neighboring property owners’ concerns persist. “I'm not against change in our Country Club Heights neighborhood, nor am I totally against the development of the property the CRCC owns,” said neighborhood resident Ryan Charkowski. “With that being said, I have concerns about noise and light pollution, as well as the drainage issues in regards to their intended land use. I'm against the bubble. It doesn't fit in the character of the neighborhood.” Neighborhood resident Dan Doyle said he felt the council’s ethics policy, revamped about a year ago, should have governed the actions of Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell and council member Tyler Olson, both country club members, who both voted to approve the project. “I can be sure no matter how narrow our ethics rules are in Cedar Rapids … people that are the owners of the property making the request to this city (voting) on (this) measure is absolutely 100%, without a doubt, a glaring and embarrassing conflict of interest,” Mr. Doyle said. Neighborhood resident TL Thousand repeated her opposition to the plan. “Club representatives have accused us neighbors of being emotional, but they haven't called us liars,” she said. “Of course we are emotional. We are passionate about our homes, our environment, the safety of our families, the well-being of our neighbors. In other words, we are invested in our community, which any other city or town would want, that its residents be passionate about strengthening the integrity of the neighborhoods in which they live.” Country Club officials haven’t yet indicated when construction of the project might begin.