Zoning Board of Adjustments

24.01    CREATION AND MEMBERSHIP.  A Board of Adjustment is hereby established which shall consist of five members.  As used in this chapter, the word “Board” shall be construed to mean the Board of Adjustment.  The terms of office of the members of the Board of Adjustment and the manner of their appointment shall be pursuant to the provisions of Section 414.8 of the Code of Iowa.

24.02    PROCEDURE.  The Board may adopt additional rules for its own government in accordance with this chapter, providing such rules are not inconsistent with this chapter.  The meetings of the Board shall be held at the call of the Chairperson and at such other times as the Board may determine.  Such Chairperson or, in the absence of the Chairperson, the acting Chairperson may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses.  All meetings of the Board shall be open to the public.  The Board shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member on each question, or if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, and shall keep records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall be immediately filed in the office of the Board and shall be a public record.

24.03    QUORUM.  At any meeting of the Board the presence of three or more members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

24.04    VOTE REQUIRED.  The concurring vote of a majority of the members of the Board that are present shall be necessary to reverse any order, requirement, decision or determination of the Building Inspector or any other administrative official, or to decide in favor of any applicant on any matter on which it is required to pass under this chapter, or to effect any variations in the Zoning Ordinance.  The grounds for every such determination shall be stated.

24.05    ASSISTANCE; OTHER DEPARTMENTS.  The Board may call upon the several City departments for assistance in the performance of its duties, and it is the duty of such departments to render such assistance to the Board as may reasonably be required.

24.06    APPEALS, HEARINGS AND STAYS OF PROCEEDINGS.  Appeals, hearings and stays of proceedings may be accomplished in the following manner:

  1. Appeals.  An appeal to the Board may be taken by any person aggrieved or by any officer, department, board or bureau of the City affected by any decision of the Zoning Officer.  Such appeal shall be taken within ten days of the receipt of the written decision of the Zoning Officer, by filing with the Zoning Officer from whom the appeal is taken and with the Board a notice of appeal specifying the grounds thereof.  The Zoning Officer shall forthwith transmit to the Board all papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken.
  2. Hearings.  The Board shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing on the appeal and give public notice thereof by publication at least fifteen days prior to the date set for hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the City.
  3. Appeal from Decision of the Board.  Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Board or any taxpayer or any officer, department, board or bureau of the City may present to the District Court a petition, duly verified, setting forth that such decision is erroneous, in whole or in part, specifying the grounds of the error.  Such petition shall be presented to the court within ten days after the filing of the decision in the office of the Board.
  4. Decisions of the Board.  The Board shall decide all applications and appeals within 30 days after the final hearing thereon.  A certified copy of the Board’s decision shall be transmitted to the applicant or appellant, and to the Zoning Officer.  Such decision shall be binding upon the Zoning Officer and observed by the Zoning Officer, who shall incorporate the terms and conditions of the same in the permit to the applicant or appellant, whenever a permit is authorized by the Board.  A decision of the Board shall not become final until the expiration of ten days after the date such decision is made, unless the Board finds that waiver of said ten-day period is necessary for the preservation of the property or personal rights and so certifies on the record.
  5. Stay of Proceedings.  An appeal stays all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from, unless the Zoning Officer certifies to the Board, after notice of appeal is filed with the Zoning Officer, that by reason of the facts stated in the certificate, a stay would, in the opinion of the Zoning Officer, cause imminent peril to life or property.  In such case, proceedings shall not be stayed otherwise than by a restraining order which may be granted by the Board or by the District Court on application, on notice to the Zoning Officer from whom the appeal is taken, and on due cause shown.

24.07    POWERS OF THE BOARD.  The Board has the following powers:

  1. Special Exceptions and Interpretation of Zoning Ordinance and Map.  The Board has the power to hear and decide, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, applications filed with the City Clerk for special exceptions or for interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance or maps, or for decision upon other special questions upon which the Board is authorized to pass by this chapter.  In considering an application for a special exception or interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance or maps, the Board shall give due regard to the nature and condition of all adjacent uses and structures; and in authorizing a conditional use or special exception, the Board may impose such requirements and conditions with respect to location, construction, maintenance and operation – in addition to those expressly stipulated in the Zoning Ordinance for the particular special exception – as the Board may deem necessary for the protection of adjacent properties and the public interest, health, safety and general welfare.  The jurisdiction of the Board to hear and determine such applications for special exceptions or for interpretation of the Zoning  Ordinance or maps shall be original and no application to or appeal from the decision of the Zoning Officer shall be a prerequisite to such jurisdiction.
  2. Other Special Exceptions.  In addition to permitting the special exceptions herein specified, the Board has the power to permit the following special exceptions:
  3. Nonconforming Uses; Substitutions.  The substitution of a nonconforming use existing at the time of enactment of this chapter for another nonconforming use, if no structural alterations, except those required by law or resolution, are made; provided, however, in a Residence District, no change shall be authorized by the Board to any use which is not a principal permitted use in any Residence District, and in a Business District, no change shall be authorized to any use which is not a permitted principal use in any Business District.
  4. Temporary Structures and Uses.  The Board may authorize the temporary use of a structure or premises in any district for a purpose or use that does not conform to the regulations prescribed elsewhere in the Zoning Ordinance for the district in which it is located, provided that such use is of a temporary nature and does not involve the erection of a substantial structure.  A zoning clearance permit for such use shall be granted in the form of a temporary and revocable permit, for not more than a twelve-month period, subject to such conditions as will safeguard the public health, safety, convenience and general welfare.
  5. Interpretation of Zoning Map.  Where the street or lot layout actually on the ground or as recorded differs from the street and lot lines as shown on the zoning maps, the Board, after notice to the owners of the property and after public hearing, shall interpret the map in such a way as to carry out the intent and purposes of the Zoning Ordinance.  In case of any question as to the location of any boundary line between zoning districts, a request for interpretation of the zoning maps may be made to the Board and a determination shall be made by said Board.
  6. Interpretation of Zoning Ordinance.  If there is uncertainty as to the meaning and intent of a textual provision of the Zoning Ordinance, the City Clerk, the Zoning Officer or the Chairperson of the Planning and Zoning Commission may request the Board to interpret the same, and the Board shall make a determination within 30 days.
  7. Administrative Review and Variances.  The Board has the power to hear and decide appeals, filed as herein provided, where it is alleged that there is an error in any order, requirement, decision, determination, grant or refusal made by the Zoning Officer or other administrative official in the enforcement and interpretation of the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance.
  8. Variances Where Literal Enforcement Would Create Undue Hardship.  The Board has the power to authorize upon appeal specific variances from the terms, provisions or requirements of the Zoning Ordinance as will not be contrary to the public interest; provided, however, such variances shall be granted only in such cases where owning to special and unusual conditions pertaining to a specific piece of property, the literal enforcement of the provisions or requirements of the Zoning Ordinance will result in practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship, so that the spirit of the Zoning Ordinance shall be upheld, public safety and welfare secured and substantial justice done.
  9. Variances; Conditions Prevailing.  Where, by reason of the exceptional narrowness, shallowness or unusual shape of a specific piece of property, or where by reason of exceptional topographical conditions or other extraordinary or exceptional situation or condition, or of the use or development of property immediately adjoining the piece of property in question, the literal enforcement of the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance would involve practical difficulty or would cause unnecessary hardship – unnecessary to carry out the spirit and purpose of the Zoning Ordinance – the Board has the power to authorize a variance from the terms of said Zoning Ordinance, so as to relieve such hardship.  In authorizing a variance, the Board may attach thereto such conditions regarding the location, character and other features of the proposed structure or use as it may deem necessary in the interest of the furtherance of the public interest.  In authorizing a variance with attached conditions, the Board shall require such evidence and guarantee or bond as it may deem to be necessary, to enforce compliance with the conditions attached.
  10. Variances; Finding of the Board.  No variance of the provisions or requirements of the Zoning Ordinance shall be authorized by the Board unless the Board finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that all of the following facts and conditions exist:
  11. Exceptional Circumstances.  There are exceptional or extraordinary circumstances or conditions applying to the property in question, or to the intended use of the property, that do not apply generally to other properties or classes of uses in the same zoning district.
  12. Preservation of Property Rights.  Such variance is necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of substantial property rights possessed by other properties in the same zoning district and in the same vicinity.
  13. Absence of Detriment.  The authorizing of such variance will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property and will not materially impair the purposes of the Zoning Ordinance or the public interest.
  14. Not of General Nature.  The conditions or situation of the specific piece of property or the intended use of said property for which a variance is sought is not of so general or recurrent a nature as to make reasonably practicable the formulation of a general regulation for such conditions or situation.
  15. Variances; Board May Reverse Orders.  In exercising its power, the Board, in conformity with the provisions of statutes and of this chapter, may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the order, requirement, decision or determination appealed from, and may make such order, requirement, decision or determination as ought to be made, and to that end shall have all powers of the officer from whom the appeal is taken.
24.08    COUNCIL REVIEW OF VARIANCES.  The Council may provide for its review of variances by the Board of Adjustment before their effective date.  The Council may remand a decision to grant a variance to the Board of Adjustment for further study.  The effective date of the variance is, in such case, delayed for 30 days from the date of remand.
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