Linn County, Iowa Comprehensive Plan - A Smarter Course: Building on the Past and Embracing the Future of Rural Linn County

The 2013 Linn County Comprehensive Plan, effective July 19, 2013, broadens the scope of previous comprehensive plans beyond land use planning to include a broad range of goals such as economic development, sustainability, hazard planning, and renewable energy. While climate adaptation is only briefly mentioned, the plan does describe the expected risk from climate change to the county (including increased floods, heat waves, and other severe weather events).  Additionally, the plan encourages the use of green infrastructure to achieve sustainability and hazard mitigation goals.

The 2013 Comprehensive Plan builds on the ten “smart planning principles” outlined in the 2010 Iowa Smart Planning Act, which stresses sustainability, energy efficiency, community character, natural resource protection, and housing and transportation diversity.  Iowa adopted these new guidelines in response to natural disasters in 2008 that caused Iowa $8 to $10 billion in losses.  Linn County was one of the many Iowa counties impacted by the 2008 disasters and attributes this as a factor that gave Linn the opportunity to reevaluate its landuse plan.

The "Elements," or sectors, addressed in this plan include: alternative and renewable energy, economic development and employment opportunities, hazard planning, livable communities, resource protection, sustainable development, and transportation.  For each element, the plan outlines over-arching goals, and objectives and specific strategies to meet those goals. Key components considered in the sustainable development goals and strategies include: 

  • Stormwater management, green infrastructure, and low-impact development (LID)
  • Response to climate change through prevention and adaptation measures
  • Construction and site development practices
  • Energy efficiency
  • Waste reduction

Of note, the plan lays out several objectives and strategies to incorporate green infrastructure into local codes, including:

  1. Incorporating low-impact development (LID) into building codes and land use regulations;
  2. Incorporating green infrastructure infiltration techniques and LID best management practices (BMPs) such as rain gardens, bio-swales, permeable pavement, green roofs, tree plantings, and rainwater harvesting;
  3. Encouraging street designs that reduce pavement width, provide natural infiltration, and promote street trees;  and
  4. Minimizing impervious surfaces including parking. 



Publication Date: July 19, 2013

Related Organizations:

  • Linn County, Iowa

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  • Plans (other)

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