Special Use Permits

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The uses permitted in a zoning district are classified in three ways: permitted uses, provisional uses, and special uses. Permitted uses, which are specified in the Zoning Ordinance, do not require special permission. They simply require a building permit and in some cases, a site plan. Provisional uses are also specified in the Zoning Ordinance and are generally compatible to other uses in a zoning district, as long as they comply with certain restrictions regarding location, operation, or screening. Special uses are potentially appropriate in and compatible with other uses in a zoning district, but due to the scale and nature of the use, has the potential to have a major negative impact on other uses in the district. These uses require close examination, site plan review, individual regulation, and notification of surrounding property owners. The proposed special use must serve a special need or be required at the specific location for the public convenience.

A Special Use Permit allows for certain land uses in a given zoning district that generally require a more in-depth study and additional site design or use restrictions than uses permitted “by-right”.

Special Use Permits are generally subject to certain conditions to insure that the use is appropriate to the area. In order to receive a special use permit, the applicant must satisfy all the following criteria:

  • The proposed use is designed, located, and proposed to be operated so that it will not be unreasonably injurious or unreasonably detrimental to the district in which it may be located or otherwise injurious to the public welfare.
  • The proposed use conforms to all the applicable regulations and standards of the district in which it shall be located that are reasonably possible.
  • The proposed use preserves the essential character of the district in which it shall be located.
  • Adequate measures have been or will be taken to minimize potential increases in traffic congestion or possible situations that would create poor traffic circulation, including access issues.
  • The proposed use prevents blighting influences by redeveloping a parcel or improves the compatibility of the use with the surrounding neighborhood.

A pre-application conference with a member of the City’s Current Planning Staff is recommended to discuss the proposal before filing an application.

  • The Planning Department has an application form which must be completed.
  • Once the Zoning Administrator has determined the application is complete and all accompanying material has been submitted, the item will be scheduled for review by the Plan Commission at a public hearing.
  • A report will be prepared by Planning and Development Department staff, including comments from the City Engineer, Fire Department, and other relevant City officials regarding the applicability of City Codes to the proposed development.
  • Public notice will be given prior to a public hearing before the Plan Commission. The Plan Commission will conduct the hearing and make a recommendation to City Council on the application for a special use which will include findings and recommend conditions for the special use.
  • The City Council will make the final determination to grant or deny the special use application.
  • The review fee for a Special Use Permit is $65 and is submitted at the time of application. An additional fee for public notice will be billed to you by The News-Gazette.

The Plan Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the proposed special use. The additional conditions may be recommended as appropriate or necessary for the public health, safety, and welfare, and to satisfy the findings required for granting a special use. Such conditions may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Regulating the location, extent, business hours, and intensity of such uses.
  • Requiring additional landscaping or screening of such uses by means of fences, walls, and vegetation.
  • Stipulating required minimum lot sizes, minimum yards, and maximum height of buildings and structures.
  • Regulating vehicular access and traffic volume, and the design and location of parking and loading areas and structures.
  • Placing a time limit on the use to allow for review and re-approval.
  • Regulating signs, architectural features, and outdoor lighting to be more compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Requiring that certain covenants or dedications for public streets be designed and recorded in accordance with regulations in the Subdivision Ordinance.
  • Any other conditions deemed necessary to effect the purposes of the Zoning Ordinance.

A special use will be developed in compliance with the special use permit. The applicant will need to apply for the minor amendment on forms provided by the Planning and Development Department. The Zoning Administrator will review the application which will be approved by the Planning Director. In no case will a minor amendment be approved that permits changes beyond the minimum or maximum requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. Minor Amendments include the following:

  • Changes that have been allowed through an amendment to the special use permit which are not listed as a major amendment.
  • Minor changes in location, siting, and height of a building that are not a major amendment. Such change may only be authorized if engineering or other physical limitations of the site, not foreseen at the time the special use permit was approved, warrant such a change.
  • The findings, determination, and notification will be made within 20 calendar days after the date a complete application is received. If there is no notification within 20 days, the applicant can consider the application denied and appeal that decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Major amendments to an approved special use permit can only be requested with the application of a new special use permit, unless additional flexibility is provided for in the original special use permit. Otherwise, the following constitute major amendments:

  • An increase in overall lot coverage of the structure by more than 10%.
  • An increase in height that results in an additional story on any building.
  • A reduction in overall amount of usable open space or a reduction of any area designated as common open space (the area for usable open space may be reconfigured as long as the total area of usable open space remains the same).
  • A reduction in off-street loading and parking spaces by 10%.
  • The change in location of any structure by more than 10 feet in any direction.
  • An overall reduction in the area designated for landscaping treatment in any one phase.
  • A change in the circulation pattern that would reduce or increase points of access, change access to another street, or increase projected traffic volumes.
  • A combination of three or more changes classified as minor amendments, which have not been specifically allowed by the special use permit.

A major amendment to the special use permit cannot be requested in order to obtain a variation from the minimum requirements of the applicable development standards. The Zoning Administrator reserves the right to determine that an application for a major amendment is requesting a variation from the applicable development standards.

Once a special use is established under the terms of a special use permit, the special use may continue as approved under the following limitations:

  • The special use permit may be suspended if work authorized by the permit is not commenced within six months of the date of approval.
  • In any case where a permit has been approved and the use has been established, a change in the use shall cause the permit to expire.
  • When a special use is discontinued for 12 consecutive months, the permit shall expire.
  • The removal or destruction of a structure containing a special use will cause the permit to expire (destruction is defined as damage of more than 50% of its fair market value immediately prior to the time of destruction).
  • The construction of a special use in variation with the approved site plan, elevation, or conditions of the special use permit, will be considered a violation and will be subject to enforcement mechanisms as specified in Article XIV. Administration and Enforcement of the Zoning Ordinance.