Ordinance - City of Des Moines
The following links represent the current Zoning Ordinance for the City of Des Moines. These links are updated every 3 months.
Table of Contents
For the most current information, click on the following link: Municipal Code
Click here for the current Zoning Map of the City of Des Moines
The following forms and documents are often requested/needed for our development process:
The City of Des Moines annually distributes door hangers to properties that are located within Special Flood Hazard Areas, as delineated on Flood Insurance Rate Maps, in an effort to help residents protect themselves. A copy can be found here. In areas that have flooded numerous times in recent years, called repetitive loss areas, we annually mail residents a letter that discusses ways to prepare for flooding, protect from flooding, and to obtain flood insurance. A copy of the letter can be found here.
The City of Des Moines also sends a letter annually to local realtors, lenders, and insurance carriers informing them of what type of information is available to them concerning Special Flood Hazard Areas. All federally insured lending institutions are obligated to require flood insurance of borrowers for properties located within SFHAs beginning with the letter A. A copy of the letter can be found here.
Additional flood zone information can be found on FEMA's website, as well as at the central library located downtown at 1000 Grand Avenue. Documents available at this library are listed in a letter from the Library Director, a copy of which can be found here.
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