Manchester Extraterritorial Zoning Study

College of Law students in the Community Empowerment Law Project assisted the City of Manchester with a study to understand extraterritorial zoning powers, the process of adoption, and recommendations for next steps.

Manchester is a growing city, but it has approximately six subdivisions just outside the city borders that limit growth. The city itself has some zoning ordinances, but the county does not. Under Iowa Code, Manchester could zone up to two miles beyond its city limits and it wanted to use this authority to ensure that economic and geographic growth is intentional, well-planned, and community-driven.

There had been some legal ambiguity as to how Manchester could wield this authority and what conditions must be in place before it does. Further complicating the zoning situation was the presence of a small airport and an airport overlay zone, which is subject to different regulations imposed by the State of Iowa and the Department of Transportation. The representation of Manchester also involved one of Iowa’s most pressing issues: the regulation of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), also known as industrial animal factories. Currently, there are two CAFOs within the two-mile zone, which are exempt from regulation under the Iowa Code. However, if new CAFOs are interested in establishing within the zone, Manchester does not know whether they can prevent them from being built so close to the city.

Law students developed a roadmap for how to move forward with extraterritorial zoning. The started with some basic questions – Is public input necessary? Do there need to be changes to local ordinances or state legislation? What can and can’t the city do?

Because so many other small cities in Iowa are facing the same issues and questions, Manchester hopes the final deliverable from this project can help other municipalities in Iowa.