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Thread: Zoning Interpretations

  1. #1
         
    Registered
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    Ada County, ID
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    Zoning Interpretations

    I am looking for any information on the process and requirements of issuing a zoning code interpretation. Who does them? (Director or Hearings Examiner) How are they requested? Do they go to hearing or are they a staff level application? Are they reviewed by an second party? (staff or elected offcial) Are they catalogued? How long are they in effect? Is this process established in code?

    Also I am looking for any information on an application we call a property status report. In short an applicant can request for an analysis in writing detailing what they can do with the parcel in question. Further such an application is used are the results binding to the agency. Basically if you say they can subdivide is it binding until there is a code amendment?

    Please post any responses or e-mail me at dsbairnr@adaweb.net

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    For your first question (the zoning interpretations), it's different in every city. I have worked for organizations that did staff interpretations, cataloged them in a binder at the front counter and used them just like the rest of the code. Other places didn't bother. Other than "similar use provisions" (where a PC or director would need to make a decision about whether a proposed use is similar to allowed uses in a district), there aren't that many municipalities that have a formal interpretation process spelled out in a code. And when they do it's usually pretty basic... as an example, the City of Vancouver (WA) has the following provision:

    "Section 20.93.100 RESPONSIBILITY.
    It shall be the responsibility of the Zoning Administrator to interpret and apply the provisions of this Title."

    I personally like to write down all the interpretations and catalog them. I have started doing this in my current City (but they didn't do this before I got here). I believe it creates consistency between planners, it shows precedent of where we have applied an interpretation before (so you don't appear arbitrary the next time a question comes up), and it's a great way to put together a catalog of items to update for the next Zoning Ordinance/Land Use Bylaw update.

    As for your second question... I don't think an zoning information request triggers vesting. However, every state is different when it comes to vesting, so you should probably check with the attorney that works for/with your organization. In the municipalities I've worked for (California, Washington, and now Alberta) it wouldn't vest a property...

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Ah, one thing we remebered to put into our code. There are 8 other criteria. Also, under at least one state enabling legislation, the Board of Appeals has the right to make interpretations.

    "Administrative Declaratory Rulings
    From time to time the implementation of this Zoning Ordinance will require administrative interpretations. Administrative Declaratory Rulings shall follow the below guidelines, which are not exclusive.
    A. They shall be kept to minimum, as they have the force of law but are not published nor codified for the public.
    ...J. "violations" of declaratory rulings shall not be prosecuted unless and until the ruling is made an official interpretation by the Board of Zoning Appeals."

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Re: Zoning Interpretations

    Originally posted by Nichoel


    Further such an application is used are the results binding to the agency. Basically if you say they can subdivide is it binding until there is a code amendment?

    We issue zoning confirmation letters (which also address land use) and only confirm the existing zoning/land use and potential uses at that time. Of course, that's subject to change if the County changes the land use/zoning administratively, or if the allowable uses in the distict are modified. I can't imagine vesting a property for zoning or subdivision because so many things can change over time. Although, our jurisdiction recently contemplated a change to the Comprehensive Plan and Code that would have permitted subdivison by certain owners who obtained a letter approving their subdivison plans prior to an administrative change in their area (even though they've shown no interest in actually subdividing the property in the last 12 years, since the rules changed). Last I heard, that was being dropped because it was an awful lot to go thru to benefit maybe 30 people.

  5. #5

    Registered
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    Indianola, Iowa
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    Question about who may make application to rezone land

    Who can make application to rezone land? Is it limited to the owner of the land or can neighbors make application if they are affected by the land?

  6. #6
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jessica
    Who can make application to rezone land? Is it limited to the owner of the land or can neighbors make application if they are affected by the land?
    Usually only the owner or an agent of the owner or someone that may have a purchase contract on the property with the owner.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  7. #7

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    How about the county board of supervisors on their own application?

  8. #8
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jessica
    How about the county board of supervisors on their own application?
    Yeah, the legislative body can do it, but that is usually the least desired option. It can be politically suicidal.

    If you a specific question like this regarding a specific locality, you should consult with either the municpality or with a lcoal land use lawyer to be sure.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  9. #9
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jessica
    How about the county board of supervisors on their own application?
    It should be spelled out in your zoning ordinance. In ours it can be the owner or the city.

    Oh, and welcome fellow Iowan!

    Edit: Check out Iowa Code 335.6, to me it looks like the Board of Supervisors make the rules, so I'd say they can make application to the Planning Commission. If they could not, how would you ever be able to adopt a comp. plan? You could never get every owner to make application for each parcel.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  10. #10
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jessica
    Who can make application to rezone land? ...
    Florida Statutes allow the property owner (or authorized agent), or the county (or the municipality), to initiate zone changes.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    [Our Community Development Director makes the determination. His decisions are appealed to the Planning Commission. If the decision is not appealed or the Planning Commission upholds the determination, then the use in question becomes a permitted or conditional use in that zone.

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