The State of Iowa has given counties the authority to adopt building codes for their unincorporated areas. However, the State has declared that farms should be able to operate relatively free from local restrictions. This "right to farm" is contained in the following section from the Code of Iowa:
331.304.3.b Farms exempt. A county building code shall not apply to farm houses or other farm buildings which are primarily adapted for use for agricultural purposes, while so used or under construction for that use.
Even though the State exempts farms from building regulations, it has provided few guidelines as to what should be considered a farm. In order to qualify under the agricultural exemption, it must be clearly demonstrated that the principal use of the land and the proposed building(s) is farm-related. This includes proposed dwellings, and that the occupants of the dwelling are primarily engaged in agriculture.
We strongly encourage anyone wishing to claim the exemption - especially for a new house - to contact us prior to the start of construction to determine if the exemption is appropriate. The farm exemption applies only to Linn County zoning and building regulations. Other permits (such as floodplain development, well, septic, E911 address or driveway access) may be required. Please contact the appropriate county department for information.
To submit a request or if you have further questions, please email or call 319-892-5130.