Development Process

Development Process

Community Preservation & Development (CP&D) manages the various development processes and land use applications. All those considering development projects should contact the department to arrange a consultation meeting. Here staff—building, environmental, engineering, and zoning personnel—can advise on potential pitfalls or regulatory issues with the proposed project. Such meetings have eliminated miscommunications and smoothed the successful processing and completion of many projects.
Site Plan ReviewAll developments requiring a building permit, with the exception of single- and two-family home projects, require a site plan review by the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z). Depending on the scope of the project, this site plan review may be done administratively as part of building permit review or it may need to be conducted at a public meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission (although it a public hearing and thus does not require the attendant notice and procedural measures).
Special UseSometimes development projects require “special use” approval.  This process involves a discretionary review by the Planning & Zoning Commission where the details of a proposal are reviewed for adherence to certain criteria, e.g. how the project might alter the character of the area.  The Planning & Zoning Commission conducts the review as a public hearing (where the public may comment), and then forwards a recommendation to the City Council.  The City Council is the final approval authority, and approval is granted by an ordinance.
VarianceIf a project cannot reasonably comply with the rules of the City’s zoning ordinance, a “zoning variance” is required for permit review approval. Depending on its scope and nature, a variance can be granted by the zoning administrator, the Zoning Board of Appeals, or the City Council.

Finally, some proposals, because of their complex nature or other unusual circumstances or features, are best processed as “planned [unit] developments” (PD). These PDs are a type of special use, and carry their own standards for review and approval through the Planning and Zoning Commission. 

You may contact CP&D staff with questions regarding your project and the specific options for the processing of development proposals.