Extension News

Extension Offers Planning and Zoning Workshops for Local Officials


AMES, Iowa -- The issues surrounding land use and the tools and techniques used to address them are becoming increasingly complex. At the same time, landowners, developers and residents are more likely to sue local governments if they disagree with the decisions that are made by “citizen planners” –- the city council members, county supervisors and appointed boards and commissions who make up the backbone of the local planning and zoning process.

The Introduction to Planning and Zoning for Local Officials workshop is “basic training” for local councils, boards and commissions, according to Gary Taylor, Iowa State University Extension planning and development specialist and assistant professor, Department of Community and Regional Planning.

Using case scenarios presented in a highly interactive format, the workshop highlights issues frequently faced in the land-use process, Taylor said. Subjects covered include roles and responsibilities of land-use decision makers, the planning and zoning commission, the zoning board of adjustment, common legal issues, rezoning, nonconforming uses, variances and special uses, and conflict of interest procedures. Since ISU Extension began offering the workshop regularly in 2005, more than 1,800 local officials from 262 cities and 89 counties have attended one or more workshops.

Beginning in spring 2010, the Introduction to Planning and Zoning for Local Officials workshop will be offered annually in eight locations across the state: Okoboji, March 24; Sioux City, March 25; Carroll, March 25; Red Oak, March 30; Decorah, March 30; Clear Lake, March 31; Burlington, April 6; and Cedar Rapids, April 7.

Locations will change from year to year so that city and county officials are able to attend a location near them at least once every two years.

Registration is $55 per person or $45 per person if a city or county registers five or more people. The fee covers the cost of instruction, workshop materials and a meal. Registrations will be accepted at the door, but a meal will not be provided for same–day registrants.

Registration forms are available from city clerks’ offices, county supervisors’ offices, county zoning officials, American Planning Association Iowa Chapter members and regional councils of government. The form will also be available for download in Adobe PDF format at


Contacts :

Gary Taylor, Community and Regional Planning, (515) 290-0214, gtaylor@iastate.edu

Sandra Oberbroeckling, Extension Community and Economic Development, (515) 294-3721 or soberbr@iastate.edu