Archive for Sunday, December 11, 2005

Guidelines for developing land

December 11, 2005

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Before a vacant piece of ground can be developed, there are several approval processes developers face:

Annexation: If the property is outside city limits and is to be brought in, landowners must apply to have the ground annexed into city limits. An annexation request for property more than 10 acres must be heard by both the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and the Lawrence City Commission. For properties less than 10 acres it can be heard only by the City Commission.

Zoning: Most vacant pieces of ground in the county are zoned only for agriculture use. If developers want to build anything on the property, they must have it rezoned. All zoning requests must be heard by both the planning and city commissions.

Platting: Developers must present specific drawings - called plats - that show how the property will be divided into building lots, where streets and sidewalks will be located, where easements for utilities and drainage will be located and the details of several other technical issues. Plats generally need to be reviewed by many city departments to ensure the property can be provided city services. Plats require approval from both the planning and city commissions.

Site plans: Most commercial building projects require a site plan that shows the specific size and location of every building planned for a development. It also must show details of parking spaces, landscaping and many other details, such as placement and materials for fences. Site plans go through a review process with the planning department's staff but must receive final approval from city commissioners.

Building permits: Construction work can't begin on a new house or building without a valid building permit. Builders must apply for a permit in the city's Neighborhood Resources Department. Building inspectors ensure that the building is being constructed according to the details of the site plan and that construction methods and materials meet code requirements.

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