Sheriff's CarUniform rural addressing makes it possible for law enforcement, fire fighters, and medical first responders to find rural property quickly and efficiently in the event of an emergency.

The uniform markers bring predictability to the system so responders know exactly where they are at in the county and what address they are looking for when responding to a call for assistance.

Rural addressing applies the same address principles that have been in use for decades in cities to the unincorporated areas of the county.

History of Rural Addressing in Cerro Gordo County

The Board of Supervisors enacted Ordinance No. 13, the “Uniform Rural Address System Ordinance of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa” on May 9, 1989. The Ordinance was amended on January 18, 1999. Click here to view Ordinance No. 13

New addresses are assigned by the Planning and Zoning Department. Intersection signs and rural address markers are placed by the Secondary Roads Department.

How the System Works


The roads in Cerro Gordo County are identified by numbered streets on the east-west roads and by names of trees, birds, and flowers for the avenues running north-south.

The avenues are named alphabetically from west to east beginning with Apple Avenue on the Hancock County line and ending with Zinnia on the Floyd/Mitchell County line (there is no avenue beginning with “X”). Each mile begins a new letter of the alphabet. If there are multiple north-south roads within a mile, then names beginning with the same letter follow the same west to east alphabetical pattern. For example, Partridge Avenue is the north-south road on the mile. The next road on the mile is Quail Avenue. Road segments between Partridge and Quail Avenues are named Pheasant and Poplar Avenues.

The streets are numbered from south to north beginning with 100th Street on the Franklin County line and ending with 340th Street on the Worth County line. East-west roads on the half-mile end with a “5”, such as 225th Street.

There are some exceptions to this scheme. These include rural subdivisions, such as on the south side of Clear Lake as well as in the unincorporated communities of Portland, Burchinal, and Cartersville.

Also excluded from this scheme are drives, such as Fallspark Drive, Claybanks Drive, and Wheelerwood Drive, which are long, often winding, and usually along rivers. Ways are short connectors of adjoining roads. 275th Way in the Oak Ridge Subdivision is an example. Finally, courts are short dead-end roads. 300th Court north of Mason City and Southshore Court in the Long Beach area west of Clear Lake State Park are examples of courts.

Address Numbers

17262 LarkAddresses are assigned in thousand blocks. Each mile is numbered 1 to 24 from south to north and 1 to 24 from west to east.

The address marker below is for the Cerro Gordo County Law Enforcement Center at 17262 Lark Avenue.

The “17” at the beginning of the number indicates that the facility is located in the 17 thousand block, or in the 17th mile north of the Franklin County line. The last three digits correspond to where the driveway is on the mile. In this case “262” would be a little over ¼ of a mile from the start of the mile, or almost 3 tenths of a mile when you are driving using the last number on your odometer. Since the address is on Lark Avenue, then the address is on a north-south road.

3748 220th

The system works similarly on the east-west roads. The address marker to the right is for County Conservation’s Blue Wing Marsh south of Clear Lake at 3748 – 220th Street.

The “3” at the beginning of the number indicates that this driveway is in the 3 thousand block, or in the 3rd mile east of the Hancock County line. In this case “748” would be ¾ of a mile from the west end of the mile, or between 7 and 8 tenths of a mile when you are driving using the last number on your odometer.

Since the address is on 220th Street, then it indicates that the address is on an east-west road.

Addresses ending in an even number are on the north or west side of the road. Addresses ending in an odd number are on the south or east side of the road.

Property Owners Responsibility to Maintain Marker

Original markers are placed by the county, usually at no cost to the property owner unless an address change has been made at the owner’s request.

The markers are placed on the right side of the driveway on the right-of-way line as you face the property from the road.

After the marker is placed, the property owner is responsible for its maintenance. If the marker is missing, damaged, or the blade becomes unreadable, the property owner is responsible for contacting the Planning & Zoning Department to ensure it is repaired.
A missing or damaged marker may unnecessarily delay emergency responders when trying to locate a particular property.

The refusal or failure to maintain the marker is a county infraction and is subject to fine. Likewise, removing, damaging, defacing, altering, or destroying a rural address marker is a county infraction.

Fees for replacement of an address marker vary based on the work that needs to be completed. If the entire structure, including post and blade needs to be replaced, then a $60 fee applies. If the post is intact, but the blade needs to be replaced because the numbers are illegible, then a $45 fee applies.

If your address marker has been damaged, please contact:

Cerro Gordo County Planning & Zoning
220 N. Washington Avenue
Mason City, IA 50401
(641) 421-3021