The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

IC City Council adopts lower height limit for residential buildings in northside

This lower limit is a result of the Northside Neighborhood Association wanting smaller buildings to be consistent with the neighborhood as well as potentially more affordable.
The+Iowa+City+City+Council+sits+at+a+panel+during+a+meeting+at+City+Hall+on+Tuesday%2C+April+18%2C+2023.+
Darren Chen
The Iowa City City Council sits at a panel during a meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

The height limit for new single-family and duplex buildings in Iowa City’s northside will now be 27 feet as opposed to 35 feet after a 5-1 city council vote approving the change Tuesday night.

These residential buildings in the northside area were previously allowed to be 35 feet tall, which is about three stories. Members of the Northside Neighborhood Association approached city officials in August with a desire to lower this height limit to 27 feet. 

The association’s reasoning behind this amendment is to keep new developments in the neighborhood — home to many historic buildings — consistent with its surrounding characteristics. 

Proponents of lowering the height limit also said it may help encourage affordable housing to be built because a smaller building would mean less room for occupants and potentially lower rent. This change could deter developers from coming in to build large complexes.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended keeping the current 35-foot standard to the city council. In subsequent meetings discussing this amendment, city staff have said they do not see the current code as an incentive for building large, unsightly buildings as most current buildings in the area are around 27 feet.

Height limits can vary widely from city to city. For example, the City of Coralville’s zoning code states that a single-family residential building can be as tall as 40 feet.

Mayor Bruce Teague voted against the amendment on Tuesday, and councilor Josh Moe recused himself from the vote.

In past meetings, most city councilors have voted to reduce the height limit. An ordinance must be considered and voted upon by the council three times before passage, and the past two votes on this ordinance have seen Teague as the lone dissenting vote.

At the Dec. 12 city council meeting, Teague said this amendment wouldn’t lend to encouraging diverse housing types within neighborhoods, which is a priority the city has outlined in its strategic plan.

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About the Contributors
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
(she/her)
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.