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New Zoning Code Evolves as Affordability Concerns Linger

The city of Des Moines is working on a new zoning code intended to ease the process of developing homes. The proposed regulations have triggered warnings from affordable housing advocates as well as local and nation home builders.
August 2, 2019, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Felix Mizioznikov

"Changes to Des Moines' zoning code intended to make it easier for developers to build in Iowa's capital city would instead halt construction of new single-family homes, local developers are warning," reports Kim Norvell.

"They also warn that proposed requirements, including minimum house sizes, single-car garages, full basements and restrictions on vinyl siding, would push the price of construction higher — making new homes out of reach for anyone making less than $100,000 a year," adds Norvell.

The concerns echo similar concerns voiced by affordable housing advocates in June. At the time, the new zoning code was proposed as a way to cut red tape for developers. Des Moines officials are standing by that argument in favor of the changes now.

"Developers that meet certain code requirements would be allowed to start construction right away, instead of going through the current approval process, which can take more than 90 days," according to Norvell.

Since the city released an initial draft of the proposed zoning changes, a steering committee has been working to address concerns from the affordable housing and construction industry lobbies. The steering committee "has since proposed a few changes — including removing the basement requirement. The committee has also proposed changes to the minimum square footage requirement, but that information has not been released to the public," reports Norvell.

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Published on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 in Des Moines Register
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