Property lines are the boundary of your lot identified on a plat map. Generally, these are marked by a survey marker (a pipe or metal bar) buried slightly below the ground at the corners of your property. Often the front corners are located a foot or so behind the sidewalk (toward the house).
If construction is being done on your property, it is your responsibility to show the inspector where the property boundary is located.
Restrictive or Protective Covenants
The Pleasant Hill Municipal Zoning Code is the "City law" regarding the use of property. In addition to this law, the developer or previous land owners could have recorded covenants, which are additional requirements or restrictions affecting your property. These requirements would have been filed with the Polk County Recorder’s office at the time your property was platted and can be found in your abstract documents. Covenants are not enforced by the City of Pleasant Hill; however they are enforced by your neighbors and surrounding property owners that are also subject to the covenants.
The property between the sidewalk and the street is "public right-of-way." Depending on where streets are located, it could be located at the front, side and/or rear of your property. As a property owner, you are responsible to maintain the "public right-of-way" near your property.
Keep in mind the public right-of-way may contain storm sewers, water mains, sanitary sewers, electric, cable, or telephone lines. If these items need to be replaced or fixed, you should expect the right-of-way to be torn up for the purpose of replacement or maintenance of those utilities.
During the winter months, this area is often used for snow storage. When Public Works crews are clearing the streets, sand and salt may be pushed into this area. We encourage property owners not to plant landscaping features in this area - think of it as the utility room for your property.
An easement is a legal right to use someone's land for a particular purpose. In Pleasant Hill, many properties have an easement located upon them. The most common is for public utilities and drainage, which is generally located along one or more of the edges of your property. The public utility easement allows companies like CenturyLink, MidAmerican Energy, Mediacom and others to install and maintain utility lines serving your neighborhood (or the community). Most of these lines were, or are, installed prior to, or during, the construction of homes in the neighborhood, but these companies have a right to perform maintenance on those lines whenever necessary.
The drainage easement allows for the creation of a drainageway to carry or hold surface water before it flows downstream to an outlet. Generally, drainageways exist or are established at the time a subdivision is developed; however, grade changes on a home site may block the water's course. This easement requires the homeowner to maintain an appropriate drainageway.
Other types of easements may include storm sewer, sanitary sewer and water main. To find out about easements on your property check your abstract on the property.
The City occasionally receives calls from property owners regarding ditches, drainageways, swales, and cunettes (the concrete strip in the bottom of a drainage swale). Property owners should not significantly impact the capacity or conveyance of water to neighboring properties.
As water flows through creeks and ditches, it is common for the channel to move overtime. Property owners living along a creek or ditch should allow room for the water to do what it does naturally, rather than restrain the forces of nature.
Permits are required prior to the installation of a fence. When planning to install a fence or a retaining wall, call the City of Pleasant Hill building clerk at 515-309-9461 to apply for a permit and Iowa OneCall for utility locates.
Within a residential neighborhood, fences should not exceed 6' in height on the side and rear of your yards. Fences are permitted in the front yard with a maximum height of 48". All fences and retaining walls within a front yard should be a minimum of 2' from any property line abutting frontage to a public street. All fences located between the front property line and the front yard should be designed with a minimum of 30% open space.
Any yard abutting a public street is considered a front yard. Corner lots are considered to have front yards the full width and length of the street sides of the lot. Any fence extending into either front yard should be a maximum of 48" in height. Remember; if you have a double frontage lot (a lot with a street at the front and rear) you are responsible for maintenance of the "parkway" behind the fence.
When installing the fence, it is a good idea to communicate with your neighbors to achieve the best outcome for the neighborhood. This includes placement, long term maintenance and potential cost sharing opportunities.
If your fence crosses a drainage easement or swale, elevate it a minimum of 3" to allow water to flow.
Industrial and Commercial
In industrial districts, fences and walls should not exceed 8' in height within the limits of the side and rear yard. Fences within a commercial district, within the front yard of an industrial district, or exceeding 8' in height in industrial districts, may be permitted a special exception by the Board of Adjustment.
An accessory structure is a building or other structure located on the same lot as a principal structure, which serves a purpose incidental and subordinate to the principal use, and meets the zoning regulations for accessory structures.
Accessory structures include detached garages, decks, porches, sheds, gazebos, swimming pools and spas, etc. There are specific code requirements for most of these. These relate to attachments to the house, setbacks from property lines, type and size of material used and accessibility. Please call the Building Clerk for additional information regarding accessory structures at 515-309-9461.