Zoning Ordinance - City of Des Moines
For the most current information, Reference Ch. 134: Municipal Code
Click here for the current Zoning Map of the City of Des Moines
The Des Moines Plan and Zoning Commission is a 15 member commission, appointed by the City Council with the responsibility to make recommendations on planning, zoning, subdivision platting and other issues related to the orderly development and redevelopment of the City. The Commission is supported in its work by the Division of Planning and Urban Design within the Department of Community Development.
Some of the major areas of responsibility for the Plan and Zoning Commission include: Long Range Planning, Special Area Planning, Zoning Ordinance Preparation, Development Review, Subdivision Review, Site Plan Review.
Planning & Zoning Commission
The Zoning Board of Adjustment hear appeals for Zoning variances.
Powers of the Board of Adjustment
The first of three powers granted boards of adjustment as a "safety valve’ is interpretation of the zoning ordinance. In this case the careful wording of intent and purpose of the ordinance and each zoning district is especially crucial. For example, an ordinance may permit "home occupations" within residential district buy may not list all of the specific uses that can be included in this category. An applicant may apply for a building permit to remodel a portion of a residence for use as a bicycle shop. If the permit is refused, an appeal may be made to the board because the applicant believes this is as much of a home occupation as engaging in ironing or dress making.
The second safety valve permitted in zoning is the power to grant special exceptions. Certain special uses occur infrequently within a city or county and rarely, if ever, do they exist in groups. As such, these special uses may be listed in the ordinance either as a permitted use within certain zoning districts or a permitted use throughout the jurisdiction, subject to a hearing before the board. The applicant petitions the board of adjustment directly to authorize a special use. At this time the legislative bodies are not involved; however, most boards of adjustment refer the special-use request to the planning and zoning commission for its review and recommendation. Generally, as a part of granting the special use, the board attaches conditions to the approval to ensure that the purpose of the zoning ordinance is carried out.
The final power of the board of adjustment is the authority to grant variances. This power is the least understood and most abused, and in many cases is the principal reason a zoning ordinance loses much of its effectiveness. A variance is exactly that-the board of adjustment authorizes a landowner or developer to vary from the express regulations of the zoning ordinance because enforcing the provisions of the ordinance would cause extraordinary hardship on that person.
Zoning Board of Adjustment
Zoning Board of Adjustment Application