Planning & Zoning - Diamondhead

shootceaselessUrban and Civil

Nov 16, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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Municipal Government 101


Planning and Zoning

In 1890 Mel Scott wrote “
Planning

is

a

way

to

link

what

is desired

with

what

actually

m
ay

occur.

If a

m
unicipality

plans adequately

f
or

its

develop
m
ent,

not

only

will

it

be

prepared

f
or

change,

but

it

can

acco
m
plish

desired change

and

can

prevent

or

lessen

the

effects

of

undesired

change.

Planning

enhances

the

ability

of a
m
unicipality to deter
m
ine its
f
uture.
” Mr. Scott’
s words could
just as easily

been written in 2012 and still be completely on the mark.

THE COMPREHENSIVE

OR MASTER

PLAN

So
m
e
time
s

referre
d

t
o

a
s

th
e

“c
o
mm
unity
m
aster plan” or “general develop
m
ent plan,” the
co
m
prehensive

plan

is

one

of

the

m
ost

i
m
portant

tools

a

m
unicipality

can

develop

to

enhance

quality
of l
i
fe and advance i
m
portant
econo
m
ic and develop
m
ental goals. In short, a co
m
prehensive plan
is the general fra
m
ework by which develop
m
ent controls (zoning, subd
i
vision codes, historic
pre
s
er
va
tion

plans,

design

review,

etc.)

are

created

and

related

to

existing

co
mm
unity

conditions

and
co
mm
unity goals.


To pass legal
m
uster all planning progra
m
s
m
ust be based on protection and
advance
m
ent of the general health, safety, welfare of the co
mm
unity
.

Usually,

a

co
m
prehensive

plan

is

a

docu
m
ent,

or

series

of

docu
m
ents,

acco
m
panied

by

m
aps,

setting
forth
t
h
e

type of co
mm
unity which exists today and what the goals and policies are for future
develop
m
ent

or

redevelop
m
ent

of

a

co
mm
unity.

A

co
m
prehensive plan is long
-
range, with a ti
m
e
horizon of at least twenty years, but based on present infor
m
ation and assu
m
ptions.

Uses of the Co
m
prehensive Plan

A

solid

plan

has

a

nu
m
ber

of

significant

roles

to

play

in

a

co
mm
unity.

The

absence

of

a

sound

plan
and planning process will place a co
mm
unity at a significant disadvantage in these areas.

The

Legal

Role

-

Becaus
e

th
e

p
l
a
n

i
s

a

dec
l
aratio
n

o
f
m
unicipal

policy

and

purpose,

in

zoning
litigation, courts h
a
ve

often looked at the existence of a plan as evidence that a
m
unicipality has
considered

all

relevant

issues

in

the

zoning

of

a

particular

parcel.


Sound

planning

for
m
s

the

rational basis for the ad
m
i
nistration of land use and develop
m
ent controls within a co
mm
unity.

Role

in

Community

Education

-

Through

an

inventory

of

its

resources,

the

process

of

developing
a

plan

can

be

a

way

f
or

a

m
unicipality

to

deter
m
ine

its

strengths

and

weaknesses.


The

inventory

is usually

undertaken

early

in

a

planning

project.


If the

p
l
anning

process

is

open,

the

views

of

all seg
m
ents of the co
mm
unity can be articulated and consensus can be reached.

Role in Guiding
Development

-

Private

d
e
velopers

m
ay

use

the

plan

as

a

gauge

to

m
easure

the
reaction of a co
mm
unity to a specific proposal pri
o
r to the sub
m
ission of develop
m
ent plans.

The planning

co
mm
i
ssion

can

use

the

docu
m
ent

as

a

guide

to

specific

project

approvals

or

disapprovals.


Because it prov
i
des a broad view of the
m
unicipality, the plan
m
ay help separate
and distill the issues in a dispute over a specific parcel of property.

The

Coordination

Role

-

The

existence

of

a

plan

helps

coordinate

the

activities

of

various

m
unicipal
depart
m
ents,

public

utilities,

and

other

jurisdiction
s
.


Roads,

water,

sewers,

schools,

parks,

and

the like can all benefit from

coordinated direction.

The Role in Planning

-

The plan can be used as a fra
m
ework for additional planning by a
m
unicipality, for exa
m
ple, a closer study of a s
m
all redevelop
m
ent area.

Preparation and Adoption of the Plan

By

statute

the

plan

m
ust

address

land

use,

transportation,

housing,

and

co
mm
unity
f
acilities.
However,

optional

ele
m
ents

m
ay

be

included

addressing

historic

preservation,

co
mm
unity

design,
r
e
d
e
velop
m
ent, neighborhood plans, and other
m
ore specific develop
m
ent concerns.

Enabling
authority

f
or

planning

in

Mississippi

is

set

ou
t

i
n

Chapte
r

1

of

Title

17

of

the

Mississippi
Code

of 1972
.

The responsibility
f
or creating a co
m
prehensive plan
m
ay be granted to a
m
unicipal
planning co
mm
i
ssion created by the
m
unicipal governing authority.

At this very moment seven
of your fellow Diamondhead residents are involved in developing our Master Plan and two
others are assisting by keeping the documentation of actions up to date. In addition the
municipal planning firm of Bridge and Watson under

the leadership of Chris Watson is guiding
our Planning and Zoning Commission through their work.

Once a plan is drafted, usually with considerable

public

input

a
nd

t
h
e

a
i
d

of

qualified

planning
consultants,

the

plann
i
ng

co
mm
i
ssion

will

conduct

public

hearings

as

required

by

statute
.

The
rules

and

procedures

of

the

co
mm
i
ssion

should

provide

for

such

hearings.


The

plan

is

presented

to the

public,

and

questions

are

answered.


The

planning

co
mm
i
ssion

then

considers

the

co
mm
ents

and questions, and the
docu
m
ent
m
ay be

a
m
ended several ti
m
es before being reco
mm
ended to
the elected

officials.


The

level

of

acceptance

of

a plan

will

be

e
nhanced

by

the

level

of

the

public participation throughout the process.

Municipal

authorities

m
ay

conduct

a

public

hearing

or

hearings

to

consider

adoption

of

the

plan

or
any

revision

or

a
m
end
m
ent

to

an

existing

plan.


The

elected

body

m
ay

hold

the

hearing

or

hearings or

delegate

the

task

to

the

planning

co
mm
i
ssion.


Notice

of

the

public

hearing

m
ust

be

published

not less

than

15

days

prior

to

the

hearing

in

a

newspaper

of

general

circulation

in

the

county

or

counties where

the

m
unicipality

is

located.


The

hearing

m
ay

be

in
f
or
m
al,

but

all

interested

parties

m
ust

be given an opportunity to be heard, and should be allowed to

sub
m
it
their co
mm
ents in writing
.

I
m
ple
m
entation of the Plan

Once

the

official

co
m
prehensive

plan

is

adopted

and

filed

with

the

m
unicipal

clerk,

efforts

should
then

be

directed

towards

i
m
ple
m
entation

of

the

plan. I
m
ple
m
entation in its
m
ost co
mm
on form

is
provided

through

the

ad
m
i
nistration

of

zoning

and

subdivision

regulations.

Other

desirable

tools

-

include capital i
m
prove
m
ents plans, design guidelines, hi
s
t
o
ri
c

preservation ordinances, and
econo
m
ic

d
e
v
e
lop
m
ent incentives. Such i
m
ple
m
entation ordinances
should be based upon and
consistent with the reco
mm
endations of the co
m
prehensive plan.

It is the planning co
mm
i
ssion
*
s responsibility to
m
on
it
o
r

d
e
velop
m
ent trends and proble
m
s with
i
m
ple
m
entation of the plan, to
m
ake reco
mm
endations regarding zoning changes, to review and
m
ake

r
eco
mm
e
ndations on subdivision proposals, and to participate in the annual budget
m
aking
process

for

the

m
unicipality.


If

there

is

m
unicipal

planning

staff,

it

is

the

co
mm
i
ssio
n
*
s

responsibil
ity

to

provide

policy

direction

for

t
ha
t

s
t
a
ff.

All

these

activities

should

be

guided

by

and

relate directly and consistently to the official co
m
prehensive plan.

Depending

upon

the

pace

of

change

in

the

co
mm
unity

and

its

environs,

the

plan

should

be

reviewed
on

an

regular

basis

so

that

it

re
m
ains

responsive

to

the

needs

and

issues

of

the

people

it

affects.


An increased

nu
m
ber

of

rezoning

requests

or

public

i
m
prove
m
ent

projects

that

are

not

consistent

with the plan any indicate a need to update the plan.

ZONING

Zoning

is

the

delineation

of

a

city

into

areas,

or

z
ones,

and

the

establish
m
ent

of

rules

to

govern

land
use

and

the

location,

bulk,

height,

shape,

use

and

c
overage

of

structures

within

each

zone.


Zoning is the pri
m
ary i
m
ple
m
entation tool of the co
m
prehensive plan. The plan establishes

general areas for each use
e
xp
ec
t
e
d

over the long ter
m
.

Zoning delineates specific areas that are
considered suitable

for

develop
m
ent

of

each

use

in

the

short

term

and

protects

developed

areas

from

intrusion by inco
m
patible uses.

Traditional Zoning Ordinances

A

traditional

zoning

ordinance

consists

of

two

pri
m
ary

ele
m
ents

the

zoning

text,

which

defines

each zone

and

the

conditions

of

use

which

are

allowed

in

it,

and

the

zoning

m
ap,

which

locates

each

zone
i
n

th
e

m
unicipality
.


A
s

lon
g

a
s

a

zoning

ordinance

confor
m
s

to

adopted

planning

purposes,

including protection

of public

health,

sa
f
ety

and

welfare,

it

is

considered

a

legiti
m
ate

exercise

of
the

basic police power of local govern
m
ent.


Zoning

typically

divides

a

co
mm
unity

into

residential,

co
mm
ercial,

and

industrial

zones.


The

zones can

be

f
urther

re
f
i
ned

into

m
ore

detailed

areas

such

as

single

f
a
m
ily,

m
ulti
f
a
m
ily,

retail,

o
ff
i
ce,

light industrial,
m
anufacturing, institutional, open space, and the like.

Each
district should
contain a state
m
ent of intent, indicating the

d
i
s
tri
c
t

s pri
m
e function, the characteristics

which

distinguish

it

from

other

distr
i
cts,

and

the

reasons

for

establishing

it.


The

intent
m
ust have a
substantial relation to the general
purposes of zoning.

The nu
m
ber of residences allowed per lot is spec
i
fi
e
d,

a
s

a
r
e

the

types

of

businesses

allowed

in
co
mm
ercial zones.

Uses in each zone are generally of two types

uses allowed by right or under
special

conditions.


Special

or

conditional

uses

m
ust

be

reviewed

on

a

case

by

case

basis,

while

uses per
m
itted

by

right

require

no

such

case

review.


Proposals

for

such

uses

are

only

allowed

if

they

m
eet certain

speci
f
i
c

require
m
ents

designed

to

ensure

t
h
ey

will

be

co
m
patible

with

the

uses

allowed

by right in the zone.

Flexible

Zoning Controls

Frequently

used

departures

from

this

traditional

form

of

zoning

include

planned

unit

develop
m
ents,
floating zon
es
,

overlay zones, perfor
m
ance zoning, central business districts,
m
i
xed use zones,
traditional
neighborhood develop
m
ent and new urbanist provisions.

If the

parcel

is

relatively

large,

a

planned

unit

develop
m
ent

can

allow

a

m
i
xture

of

uses

within

a
parcel.


The

overall

site

plan,

including

streets,

utilities,

open

space

and

public

facilities,

is

sub
m
itted and

approved

before

zoning

is

changed.


Overall

density

and

intensity

of

uses

are

consistent

with

the ordinance, but regulations do not apply on a lot
-
by
-
lot basis.

A

floating

zone

is

not

shown

on

the

m
ap,

hence

the

term

“floating,”

but

allows

the

legislative

body
the choice of designating any of seve
r
a
l logical locations for a use only when a property owner is
ready to proceed with develop
m
ent of the use on a specific site.

The

overlay

zone

is

used

to

m
eet

specific

phys
i
cal.

cultural,

or

econo
m
ic

c
onditions

not

generally
found

in

the

m
unicipality,

such

as

older

downtown

d
i
stricts,

historic

areas,

slopes,

and

floodplains.

A

co
mm
ercial

distr
i
c
t

w
it
h

a

downtown

district

overlay
m
ay allow all the sa
m
e uses as other
co
mm
ercial

districts

but

have

no

side

yard

or

setback

require
m
ents.

A

slope

overlay

m
ay

require

that each

lot

be

large

enough

or

shaped

to

provide

a

building

site

on

relatively

level

ground.

An

airport overlay
m
ay be used to rest
ri
c
t

t
h
e

height of b
u
ildings near the
f
light path or to
increase
the soundproofing

require
m
ents

of

construction.


Historic

districts

serve

a

public

purpose

by

preserving historic

sites

or

buildings.


Floodplain

zones

can

be

used to protect all develop
m
ent
from

flooding in areas subject to flooding.

Per
f
or
m
ance

zoning

allows

controlled

integration

of

uses

based

on

the

co
m
patibility

and

individual characteristics

of

each

use.


There

are

fewer

use

specifications,

but

the

acceptability

of

each

use

is deter
m
ined

by

how

well

it

m
eets

general

criteria

rel
a
ting

to

such

factors

as

noise,

vibration,

s
m
oke, odor, dust, glare, heat, hazards, parking, wastes, traffic, electro
m
agnet
i
c

fields,
and radioactive e
m
issions.


The

intent

is

to

control

the

characteristics

of

uses

so

that

the

character

and

the

quality

of the district is preserved.

Such zoning is particularly co
mm
on for industrial
uses.

Other Require
m
ents of Zoning

Traditional

zoning

ordinances

specify

the

m
i
ni
m
um

s
i
ze

of

lots,

how

far

buil
d
ings

m
ust

be

set

back from property

lines,

the

height

or

nu
m
ber

of

sto
r
i
e
s

of

t
h
e

buildings,

how

m
uch

parking

m
ust

be provided,

the

width

of

the

streets,

and

other

design

require
m
ents.

The

setback,

or

yard,

require
m
ents
m
ay

be

an

absolute

nu
m
ber,

e.g.,

twenty
-
five

(25)

feet

from

the

roadway,

or

a

percentage

of

the

lot

width

for

side

yards

or

depth for front and back yards.

Setbacks for
property lines abutting streets
m
ay

be

expressed

as

a

m
easure
m
ent

from

either

the

edge

or

the

m
i
ddle

of

the

stree
t
*
s

right
-
of
-
way.

The

nu
m
ber

of

parking

spaces

required

varies

with the

type

of

u
se
.


Wh
i
l
e

there

are

recognized standards

for

p
a
r
k
i
n
g,

the

require
m
ents

m
ay

be

m
odified to
m
eet local conditions, such as the availability

of

public

transportation

or

the

avera
g
e

nu
m
ber

of

cars

per

resident.

Most

building

height require
m
ents

are

expressed

as

a

co
m
bination

of

the

height

from

the

ground

level

to

so
m
e

point

on the roof and the nu
m
ber of stories. Street wid
t
hs are
generally spec
i
f
i
ed in accordance with the require
m
ents of the agencies controlling the
m
.

The building size and setback
require
m
ents can be replaced by a
m
ore flexible lot coverage ratio
which

li
m
its

the

m
axi
m
um

ratio

between

lot

and

floor

space

in

the

building.


These

ratios

are

called floor/area ratios or FAR’s.

Parking

m
ay

be

shared,

if

the

users

sharing

the

parking

have

need

for

the

spaces

at

different

ti
m
es
or

if

an

adjoining

lot

has

m
ore

spaces

than

it

nee
d
s.


For

exa
m
ple,

a

day
-
ti
m
e

use

such

as

an

office
m
ay

share

parking

with

a

night
-
ti
m
e

use

such

as

a

theater.

The

sa
m
e

office

m
ay

share

parking

with a

church,

which

would

only

need

the

spaces

when

the

offices

were

closed.

These

arrange
m
ents

m
ay be

for
m
alized

in

a

covenant

which

is

m
ade

bet
w
een

the

property

owners

and

which

is

recorded

with the lots.

Nonconfor
m
i
ng Uses or Grandfather Provisions

Even

the

m
ost

flexible

zoning

ordinances

cannot

c
over

all

situations

that

exist

when

the

ordinance
is

adopted.


So
m
e

properties

will

not

c
onform to

the

zone

in

which

they

find

the
m
selves,

e.g.,
businesses are found in residential zones or build
i
ngs are built too close to the lot

lines.

There
are several

ways

to

handle

these

situations,

including

si
m
ply

identifying

them

and

leaving

them

alone. However

the

m
ost

co
mm
on

is

to

encourage

eventual

redevelop
m
ent

in

a

way

that

is

consistent

with the ordinance.

Nonconfor
m
i
ng

buildings

are

usually

eli
m
inated

by

not

allowing

them to

be

enlarged,

expanded,
or,

if

da
m
aged

over

a

certain

point,

rebuilt

or

r
e
placed.


If

the

nonconfor
m
i
ng

use

is

discontinued

for a

specified

period

of

ti
m
e,

it

usually

m
ay

not

be

resu
m
ed,

If

it

is

a

nonconfor
m
i
ng

business,

the

type

of business is usually not allowed to be chang
e
d unless the new business is
m
ore co
m
patible
with the neighborhood.

An

alternate

strategy

is

to

a
m
ortize

each

nonconfo
r
m
i
ng

use.

The

a
m
ortization

period

for

structures
depends

on

their

current

age

a
nd

e
xp
ec
t
ed

useful life.


Uses

are

nor
m
ally

accorded

the

ti
m
e

any
equip
m
ent used
m
i
ght be expected to be replaced.


When

t
h
e

a
m
ortization

period

is

over,

the
building or use
m
ust be re
m
oved or replaced with a confor
m
i
ng building or use.

Rezoning

The

m
ethod

and

procedures

for

a
m
ending

t
h
e

zoning

ordinance

are

set

by

state

law
.


As

with

the
original

adoption

of

the

zoning

ordinance,

all

rezoning

m
ust

co
m
ply

with

statutory

require
m
ents

A
rezoning

is

actually

an

a
m
end
m
ent

to

the

exist
i
ng

zoning

ordinance

and

requires

the

adoption

of

an
ordinance.

In general, land
m
ay only be rezoned by action of the
m
un
i
c
i
p
a
l

governing authority
after

a

reco
mm
endation

has

been

m
ade

by

the

planning

co
mm
i
ssion

and

after

holding

the

required
public hearing.

Courts

have

generally

held

that

the

burden

is

upon

the

applicant

for

a

rezoning

to

show

that

either
there

was

a

m
i
stake

in

the

original

zoning

in

the

form a

scriven
e
r’
s

e
rror

or

that

a

develop
m
ental
change

has

occurred

in

the

area

of

such

a

m
agni
t
ude

as

justify

the

proposed

rezoning.

The

governing
authority should
m
ake note of these findings, or

lack there of, as part of the record.

Two
-
Thirds Require
m
ent

By

statute,

an

additional

super
-
m
ajority

vote

requ
i
re
m
ent

exists

when

the

rezoning

is

protested

by
the

owners

of

twenty

per

cent

(20%)

or

m
ore

of

e
ither

of

the

area

of

the

lots

included

in

such

a
proposal,

or

of

those

i
mm
ediately

adjacent

to

t
h
e

rear,

and

extending

one

hundred

sixty

(160)

feet,
or

of

those

directly

opposite,

extending

one

hundred

sixty

(160)

feet

from

t
h
e

s
tr
ee
t

f
r
ontage

of
opposi
t
e

lots.


In

the

event

of

a

protest,

the

change

m
ust

be

approved

by

a

favorable

vote

of

two
-

thirds of all of the
m
e
m
bers of the
city council
.

Spot Zoning

Spot

zoning generally describes a situation where property is rezoned for a use prohibited by
t
h
e
original

zoning

ordinance

and

out

of

har
m
ony

therewith.

This

is

a

co
mm
on

objection

raised

by

those
opposed

to

a

rezoning,

and

is

often

argued

that

such

a

“spot

zoning”

is

designed

to

favor

so
m
eone.
The validity of

a spot zoning decision will depend on the circu
m
stances of

the individual use.

Per POA covenants spot zoning is not allowed in Diamondhead. Over the years the Hancock
County Planning and Zoning Commis
sion has not adhered to this legal prohibition and many
spot zonings have been allowed without input from the neighbors.
The Planning and Zoning
Commission will have to recommend a way to intelligently deal with spot zoning while
involving affected neighb
ors in the decision process.