Responsibilities of Land Use Decision-Makers Fact Sheets

Planning and zoning in even the smallest community is a team effort. For it to work well, the elected body, planning commission, board of adjustment, and zoning administrator have to understand their roles and place within the system.

For more information about the roles of decision makers, see the following fact sheets and the table below:

Elected Officials
Planning Commission
Zoning Board of Adjustment
Zoning Administrator

The following table lists the roles and functions of each decision-making body as commonly found in local zoning and subdivision ordinances in Iowa. Your ordinances may prescribe different procedures.

Function Elected Body Planning Commission Board of Adjustment Zoning Administrator
Zoning ordinance adoption D R   P
Zoning ordinance amendments (map or text changes) D R   P
"Major" site plans D R   P
"Minor" site plans or minor amendments to site plans D (rarely) D (rarely)   P or D
Zoning Permits     A D
Certificates of Occupancy (1)     A D
Temporary use permits D (some)   A (if D is Zoning Administrator) D (some)
Sign permits     A D
Variances (2) R (rarely) D P
Special Exceptions   R (occasionally) D P
Zoning ordinance interpretations     A D
Subdivision ordinance adoption and amendments D R   P
Subdivision plat approval D R   P

= Process request. Work with applicant. Prepare staff report.

= Review and recommendation.

= Final decision.

(1) For communities that do not issue final certificate through the building permit process.

(2) Elected body may review granted variances and remand to Board of Adjustment for further study.