Planning Information

Process for the Development of Land

There are a number of steps that an owner / developer follows in order to develop a parcel of land governed by the City of Ankeny:

  • Comprehensive Planning
  • Annexations
  • Zoning
  • Preliminary Platting
  • Final Platting
  • Site Planning
  • Construction Permitting

Development activity can generally be initiated in one of two ways. The City may initiate development activity; this is generally in the form of Land Use or Comprehensive Planning and / or Rezoning. In some instances, the City may initiate an annexation action. The second and most common way in which development activity is initiated is by the owner of a parcel of property. This is done by request in the case of Land Use Planning. It is done by petition in the case of Annexation or Rezoning. Preliminary platting, Final platting, Site Planning, and Building Construction are generally done by the owner or applicant submitting the proper drawings and information.

Comprehensive Planning

The Plan and Zoning Commission of the City of Ankeny is charged with the responsibility of preparing the Comprehensive Plan for the City. This plan includes a "snapshot" of where the City is today regarding a variety of measures and a vision for its future. Forecasting is done to estimate the population of the City twenty years from now. Estimates are also made to determine the mix of single-family, townhouse, and apartment units that might be needed to house the estimated population. Estimates are also made regarding the amount of commercial and industrial land that would make up the "future" city. A land use plan drawing is prepared to identify the types and relationships of uses of land that might occur in the future. Once the general locations and relationships of land uses are determined additional components of the plan are developed to identify how other systems like streets, parks, water, sewer, and drainage would need to develop to accommodate the growth.


Annexation is the formal process of incorporating a parcel of land into the city. The Plan and Zoning Commission studies the area to be annexed to determine if it is appropriate to the comprehensive plan and able to be served by the City. They make a recommendation to the City Council. The City Council holds a public hearing and makes a decision as to the annexation. The State of Iowa has an appointed board, the City Development Board, that reviews annexations and has the authority to approve or disapprove the action of the Council. This Board often gets involved if annexations are disputed by landowners or other cities. A parcel of land is required to be within the corporate limits of the city in order to receive city services. There are some exceptions related to water and sewer services and public safety services.


Zoning is one of the strongest tools a city has in "enforcing" its comprehensive plan. Zoning classifications impose a series of requirements on a parcel of land including the uses that can occur and the bulk regulations for development. Bulk regulations are requirements like densities, lot sizes, setbacks, and building heights. When a property is first annexed into the city it has an R-1 zoning classification. This is the most restrictive classification listed in the zoning code. In order for a property owner / developer to develop in any other manner, they must petition the City Council to rezone the property. A rezoning petition must be signed by the owners of at least 60% of the property within 250 feet of the parcel proposed for rezoning. The Plan and Zoning Commission holds a public hearing as a part of its consideration in making a recommendation on the petition to the City Council. Public hearing notices are published in the newspaper designated by the City Council as the "legal" publication for such purposes. Notices are also mailed to property owners within 250 feet of the parcel. The Plan and Zoning Commission compares the rezoning request to the comprehensive plan and, using the input from the hearing process, makes a recommendation to the City Council. The City Council also holds a public hearing on the rezoning matter and decides whether to accept or deny the change. The Council may also amend or condition the request and then approve it if the property owner agrees.

Preliminary Platting

Platting or Subdivision of land is another code-related tool for the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan. Preliminary platting is the development of an overall concept of a large area of land that is controlled by the applicant or owner. It involves the anticipated layout of blocks, lots, streets, parks, public improvements, and utilities. The Plan and Zoning Commission reviews preliminary plats and makes recommendations to the City Council. The City Council receives the Plan and Zoning Commission recommendations and takes action by motion on the preliminary plat.

Final Platting

Final platting is the development of specific plans, usually for a portion of the preliminary platted area. It involves a specific survey for the layout of blocks, easements, lots, and streets. Construction plans for streets and other public improvements and utilities are submitted with the plat drawing. Staff reviews the final plat to ensure that they are compatible with the approved preliminary plat and applicable standard and specifications; and prepares a recommendation for the Plan and Zoning Commission. The Plan and Zoning Commission reviews final plats and makes recommendations to the City Council. The City Council receives the Plan and Zoning Commission recommendations and takes action by Resolution on the final plat and construction plans for public improvements.

Site Planning

Site planning is required for all multi-family, commercial and industrial types of projects. It is the intent of the regulations to maintain or enhance neighborhood character, preserve values, and promote public health, safety, and general welfare. The plans submitted involve the specific layout of buildings, driveways, parking areas, open spaces, landscaping, signage, drainage, etc. on a particular lot in a final plat. The review and approval process enables the City to determine if proposed improvements to the property, within specified zoning districts, maintain a satisfactory function and appearance, as well as comply with all applicable zoning, subdivision, and building regulations. Staff reviews the site plans to ensure that they are in compliance with municipal code regulations and forwards a recommendation to the Plan and Zoning Commission. The Plan and Zoning Commission reviews the site plans and takes action by motion.

Building Construction

Building construction plans are usually submitted as a part of the site planning process. These plans are reviewed to municipal code regulations by staff. Once approved, and once the Plan and Zoning Commission has approved the site plan, building permits for the project can be issued. The owner generally hires a contractor to construct the site and building improvements. The current Planning Division and Code Enforcement Division staffs work together to ensure that the construction meets the approved plans and municipal code requirements. Upon completion of the construction, final inspections are performed and an Occupancy Permit is issued.