Restricted Residence Districts

Cities benefit from planned development and property regulation. Typical­ly, this is achieved through a zoning ordinance. However, small cities may not have the resources or the need to adopt this amount of regu­lation, particularly if the city is seeing little new construc­tion activity. An option for smaller cities may be the adoption of a Restricted Residence District (RRD).

As authorized by Code of Iowa 414.24, such an ordi­nance allows the city to “establish reasonable rules for the use and occupancy of buildings of all kinds with­in the district.” It also allows the city council to issue permits for erecting, altering, repairing or occupancy of buildings other than residences, churches and schools within the district. Unlike with zoning, a RRD ordi­nance does not require the creation of a planning and zoning commission or zoning board of adjustment.

The typical RRD ordinance does not need to be lengthy, but generally includes the following provisions:

  • Definitions and terms addressed in the ordinance
  • Description of the district boundaries and map
  • List of permitted uses
  • Regulations relating to lot sizes and buildings
  • How the ordinance may be amended
  • Process for abating violations of the ordinance
  • How non-conforming uses will be handled

Such an ordinance may be established by the city council or shall be established upon petition of 60 per­cent of the owners of the real estate in a district seeking establishment of the district. In both cases, the city is required to hold a public hearing as required by Code Section 414.4. The notice of the public hearing is posted/published as any other city notice, except that the notice must be given at least seven days before the hearing, but in no case before the next regular council meeting.

As with any ordinance, the city will need to con­sult with its city attorney or appropriate legal counsel. Examples of RRD ordinances can be found in the Drake Law School database of city codes. In some cases, the city may find that its local council of government or regional planning association can assist with drafting an ordinance.

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