Primary Functions

The board is a quasi-judicial board established under the guidelines of the Code of Iowa and the Johnston Zoning Ordinance and has three primary functions:

Power to Grant Variances

Iowa law states that a variance to permit the relaxation of height, bulk, setback, and related building requirements can be granted if the requesting landowner can prove to the board that strict enforcement of the terms of the ordinance (without the variance) will inflict an unnecessary hardship on the land owner.

Persons seeking a variance must meet with City staff and submit an application. There is a review fee of $60 for residential variance requests and $100 for all other variance requests.

Power to Grant Exceptions (and Special Uses)

A special exception allows the property owner to put his/her property to a use expressly permitted by the ordinance. With appropriate conditions, this use will “fit” into the surroundings. The criteria for special exceptions are set out in the Zoning Ordinance for the specific exception or use requested.

Persons seeking a Special Exception or Special Use must meet with City staff and submit an application. There is a review fee of $60 for special exception requests and $150 for special use requests.

Power of Interpretation

The Zoning Administrator is tasked with implementing and interpreting the Zoning Ordinance. These decisions can be appealed to the Board of Adjustment by any aggrieved person. An aggrieved person is a appellant/applicant given an unfavorable decision, or are neighbors and property owners affected by a decision. In exercising this power, the board may affirm, reverse or modify (in whole or in part) the administrative decision appealed.

Persons seeking to appeal a decision of the Zoning Administrator must complete an application, there is a review fee of $60 for appeals.

Pre-Application Meeting

Prior to submitting an application of any type, a pre-application meeting is required. Contact Aaron Wolfe, Senior Planner at 515-727-7766 to arrange a meeting.