Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Community and Regional Planning


Community and Regional Planning


Community and Regional Planning; Sustainable Agriculture

First Advisor

Gary D. Taylor


Administrators find themselves in a policy space when they have to balance their professional knowledge of an ambiguous policy with political influence and local implementation history. The Iowa Agricultural Exemption to County Zoning provides an example of administrators making decisions in such a space. This policy exempts from county zoning regulation “land, farm houses, farm barns, farm outbuildings, or other buildings or structures which are primarily adapted by reason of nature and area, for use for agricultural purposes, while so used” (Iowa Code, Chapter 335). Limited guidance from state courts and state legislature leave county zoning administrators in a position of having to muddle through a policy space. In addition to their knowledge of the exemption, this policy space also provides county zoning board of supervisors, citizens and other actors the opportunity to either implicitly or explicitly influence how decisions regarding the exemption are made. This study evaluated where administrators are in this policy space by sending a survey to county zoning administrators across the state to learn what factors influence their administration of this policy. Descriptive and inferential statistics, as well as qualitative analysis were used to analyze the data. Results show that administrators are generally knowledgeable about the policy and because of their role as experts, many administrators do not perceive high levels of political influence. However, administrators in urban counties were found to have a higher level of understanding of how to apply the exemption, but also are subject to higher levels of political influence. These findings are important because the knowledge of, and political influence on the interpretation of the agricultural exemption can potentially act as a barrier to local food systems in Iowa.


Copyright Owner

Hannah C. Dankbar



File Format


File Size

99 pages