Serving Northwest Iowa for Over 35 years

What is Zoning?

Zoning divides the city into a number of different districts or zones. Different land uses are allowed in each area, and the goal is to separate those that are not compatible.

Iowa Code 414

414.1 Powers Granted
For the purpose of promoting the health, safety, morals, or the general welfare of the community or for the purpose of preserving historically significant areas of the community, any city is hereby empowered to regulate and restrict the height, number of stories, and size of buildings and other structures, the percentage of lot that may be occupied, the size of yards, courts, and other open spaces, the density of population, and the location and use of buildings, structures, and land for trade, industry, residence, or other purposes.

414.2 Districts
For any or all of said purposes the local legislative body, hereinafter referred to as the council, may divide the city into districts…of such number, shape, and area as may be deemed best suited to carry out the purposes of this chapter; and within such districts it may regulate and restrict the erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, or use of buildings, structures, or land. All such regulations and restrictions shall be uniform for each class or kind of buildings throughout each district, but the regulations in one district may differ from those in other districts.

414.3 Basis of Regulations
The regulations shall be made in accordance with a comprehensive plan and designed to preserve the availability of agricultural land; to consider the protection of soil from wind and water erosion; to encourage efficient urban development patterns; to lessen congestion in the street; to secure safety from fire, flood, panic, and other dangers; to promote health and the general welfare; to provide adequate light and air; to prevent the overcrowding of land; to avoid undue concentration of population; to promote the conservation of energy resources; to promote reasonable access to solar energy; and to facilitate the adequate provision of transportation, water, sewerage, schools, parks, and other public requirements…Such regulations shall be made with reasonable consideration, among other things, as to the character of the area of the district and the peculiar suitability of such area for particular uses, and with a view to conserving the value of buildings and encouraging the most appropriate use of land throughout such city.

Zoning Powers, Duties & Responsibilities
  • Legislative Body (City Council/Board of Supervisors)
    • Power to adopt Comp Plan
    • Power to adopt Zoning Ordinance
    • Power to amend and make changes
    • Power to appoint members of the P&Z and Board of Adjustment
    • Power to act upon P&Z recommendations
  • Planning & Zoning Commission
    • Prepares Comprehensive Plan
    • Prepares Zoning Ordinance
    • Recommend changes in zoning districts
    • Recommend amendments to planning regulations/comprehensive plan
    • Appointed by the City Council
  • Board of Adjustment
    • Power of Interpretation of Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Plan
    • Power to grant special exception uses
    • Power to grant variances
    • BOA is a Quasi-Judicial Board that cannot have its decisions overturned by City Council