Planning Department

General Information

The Planning Department assists people regarding building or property development within Spencer. When a property owner desires to proceed with a project, we will assist the applicant in filling out the necessary forms and will issue a permit for the improvement if the proposed project is in compliance with city code. The City issues permits for buildings, fences, signs, demolition of structures, moving, antennas and flood plain development.

Not all questions received deal with proposed projects. The City has a wealth of information available for anyone doing property research. For example, the City has entered all permit applications since the adoption of the first zoning ordinance in 1945, into a computer database for ease of access. If you would like to investigate when a structure or dwelling was built, or by whom, you may contact us for that information. The City has a number of building plans for structures built through the years in a plan tube file located at City Hall. Access to plans for reference purposes is allowed during regular business hours.

The Planning Department establishes building numbers for all new buildings as part of the application process. You may contact us if you need to know the correct address of an existing dwelling or commercial building.

Several areas of Spencer have been identified as being in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). A special flood hazard area is defined as being an area that would be inundated by a 100-year flood or having a one percent chance of being flooded each year. The Planning Department is the Map Repository for the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) with corrections regarding Letter of Map Amendments (LOMAs) and Letter of Map Revisions (LOMRs). We will make a map determination as to whether a portion of land or a building is in a flood hazard area. Requests for map determinations usually occur when a person is contemplating the purchase or improvement of an existing structure or, the purchase of an unimproved piece of property for development.

Zoning or land use issues are an important part of the entire development process in the City. People purchasing or leasing property need to be aware that land use regulations vary greatly between districts and every effort should be made by a prospective renter or owner as to which zoning district the property currently resides, and the allowed uses within that particular district, prior to any occupancy or purchase.

Building Codes

Codes adopted by the City of Spencer with local amendments:
     Electrical Code - 2014 NEC
     Plumbing Code - 2012 UPC

Codes adopted by the State of Iowa, applicable to projects in the City of Spencer:
     Building Code - 2009 IBC
     Mechanical Code - 2012 IMC
     Fuel Gas Code - 2009 IFGC
     Fire Code - 2009 IFC
     Energy Code - 2012 IECC

Boards and Commissions

The Planning Department works closely with several Boards and Commission of the City.  To view the duties and responsibilities of each Board or Commission, click on the appropriate Board or Commission listed below. 

     Electrical Examiner's Board
     Historic Preservation Commission
     Planning and Zoning Commission
     Plumber's Examining Board
     Zoning Board of Adjustment

Flood Plain

Portions of the City of Spencer are designated a Flood Plain.  Properties located within the designated Flood Plain have special restrictions.  For more information on the City's Floodplain Management plan refer to Title 9, Chapter 16 of the City's Zoning Code. 

Nuisance Enforcement

The Planning Department is responsible for enforcing the City's Nuisance Ordinances.  This includes tall grass.  Junk Vehicles are the responsibility of the Spencer Police Department.  The definition of what constitutes a Nuisance is spelled out in Title 4, Chapter 1 of the Spencer City Code. This chapter also outlines the process taken by the City to abate nuisances that may exist on private property.  

Grass regulations and abatement procedures may be found in Title 4, Chapter 2 of the Spencer City Code. 

Zoning Regulations

The City of Spencer has adopted Land Use Zoning Regulations which described restrictions on parcels of land within the City and also prescribed the permitted and conditional uses of land within certain zoning classifications.  The Zoning Regulations can be found in Title 9 of the Spencer City Code