Best planning and implementation toolbox

Building Permit Review process for commercial and residential developers to comply with development regulations in Garland, Texas

Development Regulations:

Purpose of Tool:
Development regulations are utilized by local jurisdictions to guide where and what can be built in specific locations, as well as the type, intensity and appearance of developments.  Development regulations can include a variety of regulatory requirements, such as zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, unified development codes, tree ordinances, sign ordinances, environmental requirements, architectural standards and building site plan ordinances.

Benefits of Using Tool:
Potential benefits of development regulations include:
  • Planned and coordinated approach to growth
  • Protection of public health, safety, and general welfare  
  • Protection of public and private investments
  • Integration of aesthetic, environmental, and economic values to promote social and economic vitality
  • Protection of private property values and property rights
  • Protection and conservation of critical environmental, historic and cultural resources
  • Designation of appropriate and adequate land areas to accommodate agricultural, forestry, commercial, industrial, residential, and/or other land uses.

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    Development regulations include a variety of land use controls.  Some jurisdictions prepare unified development codes that contain a range of development regulations and zoning ordinances, while other jurisdictions have separate titles of their codes for zoning, subdivision, and environmental regulations.  Local jurisdictions are responsible for the implementation of the development regulations which should reflect the goals, objectives, and policies contained in the local Comprehensive Plan.  As the Comprehensive Plan is amended or updated, local jurisdictions should review and amend the development regulations to ensure continued compliance with the plan. 

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    Development regulation requirements vary by state, but many require that development regulations contain specific and detailed provisions to implement the adopted Comprehensive Plan.  Most states require that local jurisdictions obtain public input when writing or revising any development regulations or zoning ordinances.  This requirement ensures that community support is built and that the public has the opportunity to comment. 

  • Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    In order to implement the tool, a local jurisdiction needs to have a planning and/or development department to create, maintain and enforce the development regulations.  In addition, an independent board, such as a planning commission, can review regulations and developments and provide recommendations to the governing body, such as the city council or county commission.  If the local government has the resources, it is also helpful to utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map and visually display land use and zoning classifications throughout the community.

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
  • Pierce County, Washington:  Pierce County has implemented several development regulations designed to protect and preserve the County from unwanted types of growth as defined in their Comprehensive Plan.  In particular, they have implemented forest and tree conservation, natural resource conservation, design standards and guidelines and shoreline regulations.
  • Contact:

    Pierce County
    Planning and Land Services
    2401 S. 35th Street
    Tacoma, WA 98409

  • St. Lucie County, Florida:  St. Lucie County received commendation from the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association in 2006 for the quality of their Comprehensive Plan and development regulations.  St. Lucie County uses form-based development regulations to encourage a pattern of development that preserves rural character as dictated by their Comprehensive Plan. 
  • Contact: 

    St. Lucie County Growth Management Department
    2300 Virginia Avenue
    Ft. Pierce, Florida 34982              

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness

    Because development regulations control a myriad of different types of land use and development, there are no standard, quantifiable measures on how development regulations improve quality of life.  

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
  • Development Guide. Garland, Texas.
  • Development Regulations Update Checklist. State of Washington.
  • Land Development Regulations. Pierce County, Washington. 
  • St. Lucie County Towns, Villages, and the Countryside. Development Regulations