Posted on Categories Neighborhoods, Policy

Zoning is one of those ‘little’ issues that rarely gets talked about in campaigns. But it is an issue that is very important in a city like Des Moines. Zoning needs to be handled with great sensitivity for existing homes and green space.

Here is just one example. A friend of mine owned this property for many years. Before retiring, he divided the property, keeping the small house on the right to sell and also selling the portion of the property on the left to a developer to build a new home. But before selling the small house, he was assured by the developer that any new house they built would be built in such a way as to be respectful of the existing small house.

But the developer has a standard model of house they want to build so they went ahead and put that up. So now the two houses are less than three feet from one another and the new house looms over the old. The developers were able to do this because city code has no limits for this type of situation.

So now the new owner of the small house is quite upset. And I couldn’t agree more. By being so close, the new house simply overwhelms the older house.

I’m definitely pro-development for Des Moines. We need more good homes for families. But this is the sort of zoning nightmare that happens in Des Moines far too often. Properties are developed according to some fixed plan, ignoring common sense.

There must have been some way the city could’ve worked with the developer to build the new house in such a way as to be more respectful of the owner of the existing smaller house.

I want to find ways to build the new homes and businesses we desperately need, but do so in a way that is in harmony with existing structures and open spaces.