About the Comprehensive Plan Update

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What is a Comprehensive Plan?


The Comprehensive Plan is our “Big Picture”

  • It is our 20 year vision for the future.
  • It is our blueprint for managing the growth of population and jobs we expect over the life of the plan.
  • It presents the long-range goals and policy guidance for all city activities such as housing, transportation, utilities, economic development, schools, parks and public services.
  • It provides a rational basis for all land use decisions.
  • It provides the guidance for shaping the physical appearance of the community.
  • It creates the city the residents’ desire.

Planning helps individuals and communities prepare

What is a Comprehensive Plan?


The Comprehensive Plan is our “Big Picture”

  • It is our 20 year vision for the future.
  • It is our blueprint for managing the growth of population and jobs we expect over the life of the plan.
  • It presents the long-range goals and policy guidance for all city activities such as housing, transportation, utilities, economic development, schools, parks and public services.
  • It provides a rational basis for all land use decisions.
  • It provides the guidance for shaping the physical appearance of the community.
  • It creates the city the residents’ desire.

Planning helps individuals and communities prepare for the future. Planning also helps communities adjust to new needs—such as changing technology. Comprehensive plans are important because they guide the long-term future of a city. The City of West Des Moines' Comprehensive Plan will be based on extensive community engagement. Over the next couple months we will be actively listening and learning from our residents to better understand what they want for the future of our City. The findings of this outreach will inform the final plan!

The Final Comprehensive Plan for West Des Moines will include an overarching vision for the City (where it is today and what it aims to be in the future) along with goals and actions to be taken to achieve such. It will address steps to be taken and partnerships to be created and strengthened to improve quality of life. From connectivity of streets, trails, and bikeways - to diversifying the local economy and job opportunities – to ensuring equal access to housing and education - to furthering community character, health and fostering social vibrancy. Ultimately, the Comprehensive Plan will provide the framework for making City decisions. We invite you to please be a part of the answer!

What is your vision for our City's future? What do you want to see?

No idea is too small or too big. The plan will address both near-term and long-term actions. Topics will include quality of life and neighborhood vitality, parks and trails, infrastructure and mobility, housing and community development, health and safety, sustainability and resiliency, cultural vibrancy and things to do for all ages. A more detailed description of what a comprehensive plan entails is noted below... but in short, we want to hear it all! The future of West Des Moines is in the making -- we invite you to be an active participant. Connect today to create, register today to have your say!


So you want to get involved and don’t know where to start?

Participate in the planning process. Being part of the planning process is a great way to learn more about your community and contribute your ideas. There are many different ways to get involved in helping to make a plan for the future:

  • Register today to have your say.
  • Participate in our surveys and discussion boards to add your thoughts. Show us what you like and don’t like, what we need more of and what you see as our opportunities by using the tools on our website or other social media sites.
  • Attend an event or meeting. They are a chance to learn more about your community, get information about the potential elements of the proposed plan and provide your own ideas and feedback. Keep an eye on our calendar for opportunities to engage face to face.

Please post your questions here and our staff will get back with you as soon as possible.  

Post your questions about the plan!

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    How does the city propose to fund these new projects while maintaining existing properties? Granting new abatement on new while raising taxes on the base is not the answer. Property taxes are already outrageously high!

    Jim Asked over 1 year ago

    Great question! When you look at the numbers, property taxes in West Des Moines are among the lowest in the metro. Even though we’ve lowered the City’s portion of your property tax rate in the last few years, you may be paying more because your total tax rate includes the taxes you pay for the school district, your county, Broadlawns, DART and DMACC. In West Des Moines, the City’s tax rate is less than 33 percent of the total property tax rate.

    Property taxes are also affected by the valuation or assessment of your property by the County Assessor. If the price of your home and land goes up, you’ll pay more taxes.

    The good news for taxpayers is that West Des Moines has the second lowest tax rate among Iowa’s ten largest cities. Even better news is that our Citizen Surveys show residents are very satisfied with City services. These two factors help demonstrate that we’re managing our resources effectively and providing the level of services you expect from us.

    We’ve always believed that maintaining both existing and new residential and commercial areas is critical for a healthy community. For example, we have two incentive programs for Historic Valley Junction that have been responsible for some great improvements in that area. West Des Moines is different from our neighboring communities because we don’t offer tax abatement. We may offer incentives or tax rebates to companies, but these incentives are not paid for by taxpayers or the general fund.Only projects or developments that significantly increase the tax base or provide a substantial number of jobs are considered for incentives.

    Other projects, such as the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex, are being paid for with a combination of public/private partnerships, grants, utility funds and hotel motel tax revenue. Quality of life initiatives help attract and keep employers and residents in West Des Moines.


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    I read in the Register a couple years ago that Fareway was going to build a new grocery store near the intersection of Mills Civic Pkwy & S 81st St. Is this still planned? With all of the growth west of this area we are badly in need of a full-sized grocery store here!

    Linda Asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your great question.  Fareway does have the corner of Mills Civic Pkwy & S 81st Street identified as the location of a future store.  Recently another entity indicated that they are interested in that site, however a final decision has not be made.  Should Fareway decide to sell the site, the City will work with them to identify an alternate location in the area.

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    why doesn't the city provide an area to dump clean compost from trees, trimmings, etc such as Clive maintains?

    chrnm Asked almost 2 years ago

    Great question! Different cities offer varying programs. Clive used to offer free curbside collection and turned to this as an alternative. They had the land space and their elected body decided to go with this program. The City of West Des Moines relying on the MWA Compost-It program for composting and encourages residents to utilize is an alternative. West Des Moines has not considered or are considering getting into this type of program. The Clive program is highly unusual in a metro area. 

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    In the Root River area of MN there is a condition placed on new roads. New roads need to include bicycle lanes (this might be a consideration for Amish buggies). Who is responsible for this kind of planning; city, county, or state? Designating bike routes? Planning protected bike lanes in high traffic areas? How does coordination between city, county & state work to provide safe access to or transition between bicycle trails by bicycle?

    Merritt Asked almost 2 years ago

    Great question! The City has developed a Bicycle Master Plan that designates a bike route network throughout West Des Moines consisting of off-street and on-street bike facilities.  This master plan is consulted as streets are planned and constructed.  The appropriate type of bicycle facility – side-path trail, bike lane, shared lane markings, etc. – is dependent on many characteristics such as volume, speed, and available street width.

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    How do I get a copy of the current Comprehensive Plan?

    DaveBall Asked almost 2 years ago

    That is a great question!  Here is the link to the current Comprehensive Plan as adopted by the City Council on September 20th, 2010:  http://www.wdm.iowa.gov/government/development-services/comprehensive-planning/comprehensive-plan