The Zoning Ordinance is a very important ordinance since it controls what a property can be used for and how intensely it can be used, in order to protect the public health, safety, welfare, aesthetics, and property values. The Ordinance establishes minimum lot widths and areas, maximum density for residential and maximum lot coverage for nonresidential, minimum setbacks and maximum heights for buildings and other structures, performance standards, minimum requirements for parking, loading facilities, landscaping, buffer yards, and so forth.
Zoning regulations must be applied uniformly to all properties within a given zoning district. Urbandale is divided into a number of different zoning districts, as would almost always be the case in any city or county. Zoning Ordinances are very unique to the locale: the principles of zoning controls are the same from one jurisdiction to another, but specific regulations often differ greatly because they reflect local consensus and/or political considerations about the character and development of a community that are generated through the Comprehensive Planning and public hearing processes. The Zoning Ordinance must conform to the Comprehensive Plan.
The Urbandale Zoning Ordinance can be downloaded or picked up at the Department of Community Development, 3600 86th Street. Paper copies cost $12.00, electronic copies are free. The Official Zoning Map can be viewed on line or downloaded for free. There is a charge for paper copies.
“Self-serve users” are cautioned however, that zoning regulations are very complex. Copies of the Zoning Ordinance should only be used for initial planning and reference. Everyone is strongly encouraged to contact staff at the Department of Community Development, 3600 86th Street, to discuss requirements before making firm plans or decisions. Department hours are 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Assistance is available over the counter, by calling (515) 278-3935, or by email. It may be appropriate to set up an appointment for a pre-application conference to discuss large or complex projects.
Staff assistance is encouraged because terminology and phrasing and their application under the Ordinance must be understood, regulations may overlap or supersede others depending on specific situations (such as “grandfathering”), and there may be Conditions of Rezoning, easements, covenants, or other ordinances that must be considered. Investment decisions that are based on a misunderstanding may not be easily resolved and accordingly can be very expensive.
If the zoning does not allow a use or proposed development, plans will need to be altered or a change of zoning (rezoning) perhaps can be requested. In some cases a zoning variance might be possible.