Population: 2,862,447
Counties: 99
Governor Thomas Vilsack

Click here for the amount of protected land in Iowa, and click here to review Iowa's federal transportation spending.
Source:  Pew Center on the States & Changing Direction:  Federal Transportation Spending in the 1990s. Surface Transportation Policy Project

For a summary of Iowa's planning and zoning statutes, see the report provided by the American Planning Association.

During the 1997 legislative session the Legislative Council enacted House Concurrent Resolution 21 which called for the creation of the Commission on Urban Planning, Growth Management of Cities, and Protection of Farmland.1 The Commission was composed of 21 voting members with expertise in planning, development, design, zoning, annexation, agriculture, historic preservation, transportation, and conservation.2  The task of the Commission was to collect information on current land use patterns and policies in Iowa.3 The Commission issued its final report January 1999.4

Seven subcommissions were appointed to consider specific issues: Finance, Annexation Private Property Rights, Land Use Planning and Policy/Urban Revitalization, Public Park and Recreation/Natural and Historic Areas, Farmland Inventories/Farmland Preservation, and Infrastructure Costs and Subsidies/Tax Implications of Development.5  The subcommission submitted reports to the Commission in May 1998,6 and the Commission held 10 public hearings.7 The Final Report contains a number of proposals including: development if a statewide land use inventory; assistance for local governments to maintain their inventories; continuation of the Commission; development of a council composed of representatives of state agencies to establish, maintain and revise a state strategic development plan; requiring cities and counties to prepare plans and in some cases joint plans; providing that developments within counties that do not comply with the plans would not eligible for government incentives; and increasing the rights of persons over their property.8

The impetus behind the creation of the Commission comes from Representative Ed Fallon in response to local concerns about maintaining agricultural lands and the existing quality of life.9

The above material is excerpted with permission from "Smart Growth at Century's End: The State of the States" by Patricia E. Salkin, published in The Urban Lawyer, Sumr 1999 v 31 n 3, p. 601.  For a complete copy of the article,
please contact The Urban Lawyer.

Humstone, Elizabeth, and Thomas Muller, What Happened to
Downtown When Superstores Located on the Outskirts of Town: A Report on three Iowa Communities with a Statistical Analysis of Seven Iowa Counties (Washington, D.C.: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1997). 

1000 Friends of Iowa
The mission of 1000 Friends of Iowa is to educate the citizens of our state about the long-term benefits of halting urban sprawl, conserving and protecting our agricultural
and natural resources, and revitalizing our cities and towns.


1 Progress Report (Commission on Urban Planning, Growth Management of Cities, and Protection of Farmland, Iowa), January 1998.
2 The Commission consists of 17 citizen members and 4 legislators.
3 The purpose of the study is to: review county land use inventories; survey the status of Iowa farmland and natural areas; determine the extent to which areas have been converted to residential, commercial, or industrial use; report on the agricultural quality of farmland converted to residential, commercial, or industrial use; survey rpoblems facing the state's cities; evaluate the effectiveness of current state, regional, and local planning and zoning laws and assess their impact on the farmland, natural areas, and cities of the state; review model legislation and studies on farmland protection and urban planning; collect information on state that have undertaken reform efforts and have effective programs; propose innovative and cooperative planning and land use approaches that will protect farmland; accommodate and guide growth and development, ensure the planning and construction of adequate supporting services and infrastructure including utilities, storm water management systems, and transportation; provide opportunities for or eliminate barriers to affordable housing; protect the environment; and minimize exposure to natural hazards.
4 The Final Report of the Commission on Urban Planning, Growth Management of Cities, and Protection of Farmland is available on the General Assembly's web page at
5 Id at 6.
6 Id.
7 Id.
8 Final Report of the Commission on Urban Planning, Growth Mangement of Cities, and Protection of Farmland (January 1999).
9 Telephone Interview with Stewart Huntington, Iowa State University (January 22, 1998).