The City of Maquoketa does not enforce a building code, but does have zoning regulations which property owners must adhere to.
Below we have listed some frequently asked questions about zoning, for more information please contact Maquoketa City Hall, 201 East Pleasant Street, Maquoketa, IA 52060, 563-652-2484.
Frequently Asked Questions About: Zoning
The following questions are some of the ones that we hear most often on the topic of "Zoning:"
- When do I need a building permit?
- Do I need a building permit even when I put up a small shed or what I would consider to be a temporary/portable structure?
- How do setbacks work with "accessory buildings?"
- What does your ordinance say about fences?
- Does the City settle lot line disputes between neighbors?
- What are the setbacks for a residential corner lot?
- How do I figure where my front setback starts from?
- What is a "variance," and how is one granted?
- Can a mobile home be set up in outside of an existing trailer park?
- What is a "Home Occupation" and under what conditions can an occupation be conducted out of a residence?
1.) When do I need a building permit?
A building permit is almost always required for any type of activity that will change the exterior dimensions of existing structures or when a new structure is being placed on a property. A building permit is also required for any sign that is painted or placed on a structure. More specifically, the City ordinance states:
"5-1Q-2 It shall be unlawful to commence or to proceed with the erection, construction, reconstruction, conversion, alteration, enlargement, extension, raising or moving of any building or structure, fences or parking lots, or any portion thereof, without first having applied in writing to the Building Official for a building permit to do so and a building permit has been granted therefore."
"5-1O-2-1 A permanent sign shall not be painted or placed on a structure prior to the issuance of a building permit for the sign."
2.) Do I need a building permit even when I put up a small shed or what I would consider to be a temporary/portable structure?
Yes. Although past City Councils and past city administrations may not have enforced or required building permits for portable structures or small structures, the language of the ordinance requires a building permit for projects that involve these types of projects. Further, the current City Council has determined that this aspect of the zoning ordinance will be enforced.
The construction of a deck and/or pool also requires a building permit.
3.) How do setbacks work with "accessory buildings?"
An accessory building is a structure such as a detached garage, a storage shed, a satellite dish, etc. The ordinance defines an accessory building as follows: "A subordinate building which is incidental to and customary in connection with the principal building or use and which is located on the same lot with such principal building or use."
The rules for accessory building setbacks are as follows:
"5-1K-4 ACCESSORY BUILDINGS, AREA AND LOCATION.
- Location. Accessory buildings may be built in a required rear yard, but such accessory buildings shall not occupy more than fifty percent (50%) of the required rear yard area and shall not be nearer than two feet (2') to any side or rear lot lines and shall be located ten feet (10') or more in back of or behind the main building. The two foot side yard setback shall be measured from the overhang or eve of the building.
- Distance from the Main Building. If the accessory building is located closer than ten feet (10') to the main building, then the accessory building shall be regarded as part of the main building for purposes of determining side and rear yard areas.
- Entrance from Alley. If the accessory building is a garage which is entered from an alley and is not located closer than ten feet (10') to the main building, then there shall be a rear yard of not less than ten feet (10').
- Height Restriction. No accessory building in a residential district shall be erected, converted, enlarged, reconstructed, or structurally altered to exceed fifteen (15') in height at the highest point from the ground level."
4.) What does your ordinance say about fences?
Most fences do not require a building permit unless they are for a commercial purpose or unless the fence is for residential use but is intended to be over 6' tall, or if it is within the front yard setback of a residential lot, or if it is within the front and/or setback. More specifically, the City's ordinance states:
"5-1N-1 SIZE AND VISIBILITY. No fence or hedge more than 3 feet high, 4 feet if it is a woven wire fence, may be located in the front yard setback. Fences or hedges of up to six feet high may be erected on those parts of a lot that are further back from a street than the front yard setback. A corner lot has a double front yard setback. Any fence built in an easement is subject to removal at the owner's expense.
5-1N-3 PERMITS Permits are required for all residential fences proposed for construction in front yard set back areas. Permits are required for all public, commercial, and industrial use fences."
5.) Does the City settle lot line disputes between neighbors?
No. Lot line disputes must be treated as a civil matter where disputing neighbors may ultimately pursue the services of their family attorneys and take the case before a judge. A judge might order a survey to be conducted. The City does not conduct surveys is disputes between neighbors.
However, until a lot line dispute is settled, the City may withhold the issuance of a building permit for a structure that might, arguably, be constructed on another person's property.
6.) What are the setbacks for a residential corner lot?
In almost all cases, the setbacks for a residential corner lot are 30' in front and 30' on the side that abuts the intersecting street. No construction should take place on any type of lot without first checking with City Hall.
7.) How do I figure where my front setback starts from?
The front setback starts at the point where the property that abuts the public right-of-way begins.
You can best tell where the right of way begins by way of a property survey.
Short of having a survey performed, there are two unofficial, "rule of thumb" methods that can be used to determine where a property generally begins:
- Call City Hall to learn how wide the street right-of-way for a given street is listed on our plat map. It will be a figure such as 60', 50', etc. Divide the number by 2. From the center of the street, walk that distance toward the property in question. Your lot line should be generally in the area you have measured-off. Please be aware that this method assumes that the middle of the street is in the exact middle of the right-of-way, and that is not always the case.
- If there is a sidewalk present, the sidewalk is assumed to sit in the right-of-way. From the property-side edge of the sidewalk, count off at least 1'-2' from the edge of the sidewalk. Please be aware that not all sidewalks are set back from the street by the same distance; therefore, this isn't always a useful method on all streets.
8.) What is a "variance," and how is one granted?
The City Council appoints a 5-member "Zoning Board of Adjustment" or ZBA. Whenever a person cannot be granted a building permit under the current guidelines, he/she may apply for the ability to vary from the rules. A person can apply for a variance at City Hall. As a part of the application, the person must pay a fee and submit the names and addresses of property owners within 200 feet of his/her property. Those names and addresses can be obtained at the Jackson County Courthouse. A public hearing then must be set up before the ZBA and the neighboring property owners must be notified of the hearing by City Hall. The neighboring property owners may speak either for or against the proposed project.
In this process, it is the role of the ZBA:
"To hear requests for variances from the literal provisions of the zoning regulations in instances where strict enforcement of the zoning regulations would cause undue hardship due to circumstances unique to the individual property under consideration, and grant such variances only when it is demonstrated that such action will be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the provisions of the zoning regulations. The Board of Adjustment shall not permit, as a variance, any use in a district that is not permitted under the regulations. The Board of Adjustment may impose conditions in the granting of a variance to insure compliance and to protect adjacent property."
9.) Can a mobile home be set up in outside of an existing trailer park?
Yes, but without a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, a trailer or mobile home can exist outside of an established trailer park under these conditions:
"3-12-2 From the 1st day of July, 1996, a home defined in 3-12-1 shall not be located outside of a manufactured home park except upon the following conditions:
- The home shall be located in a R-1 or R-2 district of the City of Maquoketa.
- The home shall comply in all respects with the zoning regulations applicable to the R-1 zone.
- The home shall have a permanent foundation system, in all respects the same as the foundation required of a site-built home.
- The home shall meet minimum square footage requirement of a site built home which is nine hundred and sixty square feet. The home shall be assessed and taxed as a site-built dwelling on the lot."
10.) What is a "Home Occupation" and under what conditions can an occupation be conducted out of a residence?
Although this isn't the entire ordinance governing home occupations, these are the main points:
"5-1D-8 (1) Definition: "Home Occupations" means any business, profession, occupation or trade conducted for gain or support within a residential building or an accessory structure thereto, which is incidental and secondary to the use of such a building for dwelling purposes and which does not change the essential residential character of such building.
5-1D-8 (3) Exceptions. Notwithstanding the definition of home occupations set forth above, certain occupations that are pursued partially or entirely in a district zoned R-1, R-2, R-3 and A-1 may be excluded from the requirements and regulations of this Ordinance by determination of the Home Occupations Inspector. Those occupations that may be excluded from the operation of this Ordinance are:
- McNess dealers
- Amway dealers
- Avon dealers
- Mary Kay products dealers
- Home Interior salespersons
- Insurance salespersons
- Sewing and alterations
- Seed corn or agricultural products
- Catering from the home and home baking
- Any other home occupation which the Home Occupations Inspector has determined has such an insignificant impact on the neighborhood that it may be exempt from the requirement to apply for and obtain a Home Occupations Permit.
5-1D-8 (4) Permit Required.
a. It shall be unlawful for any person to carry on a business, profession, occupation or trade at a residence in an area of the City zoned R-1 or R-2 or
R-3 or A-1, unless the person has applied for and received a permit to do so or has obtained an exemption under 5-1D-8-(3) from the Home Occupations Inspector. Each day that this Ordinance is violated shall be a separate violation of this Ordinance.
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