Municipal Zoning

The practices of city/town planning are found in ancient civilization, though our more recent ancestral origins have guided the development of the majority of the cities in the United States.  Many of our colonial cities, twentieth century industrial towns, and large urban centers began with a design of right-of-way, block, and lot plan.  Patterns of development began and as municipal economies expanded during the Industrial Revolution, industry and primarily labor occupied the housing as it developed along the railroads & rivers.  People lived near or where they worked and traveled by horse and buggy.  The rural countryside was primarily agricultural based.

The early decades of the 1900's saw the advent of the automobile, electricity distribution and communication advancements, which permanently changed the American landscape.  With each small city (2,500 - 10,000 population), medium city (10,000 - 50,000 populations), and large city (50,000 + population) becoming a semi-autonomous economy of scale with moderate growth, city blocks began to fill with various types of residential and commercial development.  Land disputes and nuisances became more frequent and the courts were hearing an increasing number of cases with similar land development characteristics.  Zoning became a city planning concept to provide minimum site development standards, to separate incompatible land uses and to provide an administrative process prior to a judicial appeal process.  Obviously large cities enacted the initial zoning ordinances because of the volume of land use cases and the staff capability to enforce the ordinance.  The steady economic and population growth of most of the twentieth century has created vibrant metropolitan areas, which are having a significant impact on the rural landscape adjoining these cities.  Much of this rural growth can be attributed to an opportunity for some relief from high inner city and suburban population densities and traffic congestion.

Zoning is a planning tool for classifying land uses, requiring specific site development standards by land use type and separating incompatible land uses.  Zoning is local governmental control over the ultimate use of land.  The ordinance or law and map are approved by the legislative body upon a recommendation by the planning commission.  Amendments to the ordinance or map follow the same process.  The statutes require the establishment of a board of adjustments or appeals board by the legislative body to hear cases for conditional uses (versus permitted uses), dimensional variances (from required buildling setback distances) and administratiave review (challenge of a decision of the adminstrative official). 

The planning commission and board of adjustments consist of citizen members (Kentucky Court of Appeals excluded elected officials).  Each district contains a list of permitted uses, conditional uses requiring a public hearing before a board of adjustments, lot area requirements, building setback, height and structural density requirements and other requirements depending upon the type of use.  Building permits are requried for most development activity.


Link to Ordinances

Click here for Form 9 Request for Zoning Change

Kentucky Planning and Zoning Statutes (KRS Chapter 100)

The link above is the official web site for Kentucky Planning and Zoning Statues.


Other Zoning Questions and Answers

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