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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Okoboji marina magnate sick of being sunk by city

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An Okoboji marina, restaurant and tiki bar owner claims his dream of success has been jeopardized by ongoing battles with the city.

Butch Parks, owner of Okoboji Boatworks on West Okoboji Lake since 2001 and the nearby O'Farrell Sisters restaurant since 2004, sued the city of Okoboji in November claiming the city council has interfered with his ability to do business and caused him financial hardship.

Alcohol sales at his restaurant and marina are central to the dispute.

In 2003, the city sought a court injunction to permanently deny Parks a liquor license for his marina. The city said a bar there would violate zoning laws for a residential area, but Parks claimed previous owners of the property also sold alcohol.

A district court judge agreed with Parks, but the city appealed the case to the Iowa Supreme Court, where it is pending.

Parks said his renovation of the marina has created a family atmosphere. The marina offers a picnic area and beach with a water slide. Skating and ice fishing are offered in the winter.

"Parents bring their kids here and they love it," Park said. "Even though there's a bar in the marina, it's still family oriented. The bar closes at 11 p.m."

The city also went to court in 2004 to keep Parks from operating a bar at his restaurant, despite Parks' claims that previous owners have done the same. A judge has yet to decide that case.

Parks' lawsuit claims the city discriminated against him because other lakeside merchants have not had similar restrictions placed on the expansion and improvement of their businesses.

He said the city also tried to stop him from dredging near a storm drain even though he had a permit, and he said the city sued him over a boat dock already approved by the DNR.

Parks further claims that the city has enacted parking restrictions that prevent customers from easily accessing his businesses.

Attorney Phil Redenbaugh, Storm Lake, said Parks deserves compensation because city interference hampered his business, but James Clarity, representing the city, said the council enforced legitimate zoning laws.

"The city didn't single out Mr. Parks," Clarity said. "He came before the council with various requests which either didn't fit the zoning or the mandate of the city."

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