The availability of staff to assist in performing planning and zoning functions varies widely from community to community. At a minimum, every community that has adopted a zoning ordinance must have an official charged with administration of the ordinance. The zoning administrator’s responsibilities with regard to the day-to-day interpretation and administration of the ordinance are defined in the ordinance. The zoning ordinance establishes the procedures that citizens must follow any time they wish to build or alter any structure in the community.
Most planning and zoning decisions made by local zoning boards, commissions, and elected officials fall into one of two categories: legislative decisions or quasi-judicial decisions. The basic difference between the two categories is that legislative decisions establish policies for future application, while quasi-judicial, or administrative decisions are the application of those policies.
Spot zoning is when a rezoning decision results in a single parcel, or small island of property, with restrictions on its use different from those imposed on the surrounding property. Spot zoning can be valid if there is a reasonable basis to treat the spot-zoned property differently from the surrounding property.
Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Fact Sheets help to address common questions and explain basic concepts. These fact sheets represent best practices in planning and zoning in Iowa, but are no substitute for legal advice. Only your city or county attorney is qualified to give you advice as to how the specific facts in your case affect you.
As land use issues and the techniques used to address them become more complex, it is critical that local officials and community leaders understand the local planning and zoning process.
Introduction to Planning and Zoning for Local Officials is a three-hour workshop designed to introduce the basic principles of land use planning and development management to elected officials, planning and zoning officials, and board of adjustment members without formal training in the subjects. Using case scenarios in a highly-interactive format, the workshop highlights issues frequently faced in the land use process.