Linn County neighborhood says haunted house ‘not something we want in our community’

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 11:41 PM CDT
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ALBURNETT, Iowa (KCRG) - A group of people who live in the Lafayette community, near Alburnett, is petitioning the Linn County Board of Supervisors to keep a new neighbor out of their neighborhood.

“This is not something we want in our community,” Wayne Anderson, who has lived in the Lafayette area for more than 30 years, said.

The potential new neighbor is not a who, but a what: “Deadly Hallow,” a haunted house that a group from Cedar Rapids wants to set up in an old feed store building, right off Lafayette Road. They’re already selling tickets online for it, with up to 500 people able to purchase admission to attend each night.

Anderson said having so many people in his neighborhood is his and some of his neighbors' biggest issue with the haunted house. He described his community as “a quiet and very nurturing neighborhood to live in,” with the Cedar Valley Nature Trail running along it and next to the feed store building.

“We’re an isolated community,” Anderson said. “We’ve had no difficulty with COVID-19 in particular. Also the number of vehicles, the number of people coming in poses significant security and safety risks.”

According to an application submitted for a temporary use permit for the haunted house, which is located in a residential zone, the attraction’s operators said they would be able to fit 53 cars in an area near the land’s entrance. Linn County said cars won’t be able to park along Lafayette Road, just outside the entrance, and Anderson is concerned they’d end up in his front yard.

“It would be a disruption to the neighborhood in many ways, and so we’re rather opposed to it,” Anderson said.

Deadly Hallow was slated to open Sept. 25, but a post on its Facebook page Monday night said the grand opening was postponed until Oct. 2. The haunted house is scheduled to be open Fridays and Saturdays for its first three weekends, and then starting Oct. 23, it would serve up scares every night through Halloween, operating from 8:30 p.m. to midnight.

But, Deadly Hallow still needs to obtain a temporary use permit before it’s allowed to open, and on Monday, the Linn County Planning and Development staff recommended the Board of Supervisors not approve it, saying there are “significant building issues,” including not having a fire alarm.

“They haven’t applied for building permits or electrical permits for this building yet either, which would need to be obtained before this opens,” Charlie Nichols, Planning & Zoning Division Manager, said.

Billy Runyan, who applied for Deadly Hallow’s temporary use permit, said in a statement to KCRG-TV9, “We worked very hard to ensure everyone is happy and that this is a positive thing for the area, not a negative thing.”

Runyan said they’ve taken steps to mitigate noise concerns and follow COVID-19 guidelines — including requiring guests and staff to wear face coverings and limiting groups inside the haunted house to no more than four people — and would have firefighters on-site in case of an emergency.

Neighbors like Anderson said it’s not worth it.

“It’s quiet here, and we like it,” Anderson said. “We have our parties on individual homes, but this is a horse of a different color.”

The Linn County Board of Supervisors has the final say on whether or not the haunted house will get its permit to open up. They’ll vote on it Wednesday, though two of the three supervisors, Ben Rogers and Brent Oleson, said Monday they would not support the permit’s approval as plans currently stand.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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