Director of Building Services/Zoning Administrator
(269) 637-0097 fax
Zoning is local regulation of the use of land and of construction of structures. The City is divided into districts, and specific uses are permitted in certain districts. The intent is to avoid uses which have a negative effect or nuisance effect on the neighboring property owner's right to enjoy and use his property.
The Zoning Ordinance regulates setbacks from property lines to construction, lot coverage, height, as well as the creation of subdivisions, splitting of lots, and other development details.
How to Read the Zoning Ordinance
When City staff reviews a development proposal, there is a standard procedure to determine whether a project meets the standards of the ordinance.
1. Find out which zoning district the property is located in. See the Zoning Map link at left.
2. Determine if the use is permitted in that district, by going to the section of the Zoning Ordinance which covers that district. There will be a list of permitted uses for the district. Many uses are permitted by right. Some uses may require a Special Use Permit or a Planned Unit Development, which are special procedures used for larger projects or uses that have regulation that specifically addresses that use.
Planned Unit Developments are typically larger development projects with several or many buildings on one lot. See Article 13 (XIII) for details.
3. If the use is permitted in the district, check the Special Use Permit section to see if the use also requires a Special Use Permit. The Table of Contents is the best place to check the uses requiring a Special Use Permit. Look under Chaper 15 in the Table of Contents. If a Special Use Permit is required, follow the procedure outlined in Chapter 15.
4. In the district chapter that applies to the property in question, there will be an Area Regulation section and a Height Regulation section. Review your development proposal to see if it meets the yard setbacks, maximum lot area coverage, and building height standards. If you have questions about what these items mean, look in Section 200, the Definition section of the ordinance. Please note that the Lot Area and Width requirements apply to newly created lots only, not to existing lots.
5. The next step is to go to the General Provisions Article, Article 17 (XVII). There are sections in this article covering lot splits, accessory buildings (garages, sheds), landscaping requirements for larger projects, clear vision corners, fences, access requirements (new driveways), drainage, demolition and moving of buildings, waterfront lots, and many other details.
6. If the project is commercial, industrial or multiple-family residential, there will be a description of the parking space requirements in Article 18 (XVIII). This section also describes the minimum standards for design of parking areas.
7. The standards for signs are listed in Article 20 (XX).
This step-by-step method is used by staff to review development proposals.