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FAQ – Zoning

General Information


What is zoning?

Zoning establishes the types of land uses permitted on a specific tract of land. Zoning also regulates the size, intensity, and height of development, as well as signage, screening, and parking related to development.

Arlington has 28 zoning districts, which are broadly grouped into residential, non-residential and mixed-use, and overlay districts. Specific information regarding each district can be obtained in the City of Arlington’s Unified Development Code.

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How does Zoning change?

The zoning on a specific piece of property can change only through a public hearing process. This process allows public participation from the applicant, interested citizens, and decision makers. The process requires public notification, public hearings, and final approval by the City Council.

An applicant may seek a change to establish a use not permitted in the current zoning district. The applicant may use the zoning process to request rezoning to a district that will permit the use outright, with conditions, or by a Specific Use Permit.

Conditional use means the land use is permitted if certain conditions are met. Conditions typically involve screening, buffering, and/or size requirements.

Specific Use Permits are permitted exclusively by specific permit approval by the Council. Applicants interested in obtaining a Specific Use Permit should file an application for zoning change noting the “SUP” option on the form. Fees and processing of an SUP are similar to a zoning case.

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Who may apply for a Zoning change?

Anyone may apply for a zoning change; however, permission of the property owner is required. A place is provided on the zoning application for the owner’s signature, whether a single owner or a corporation. In all cases, the owner’s notarized signature must be on the application.

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Where do I get a Zoning change application?

Zoning application packets include a disclosure of interest form, a fee schedule, and an application, may be obtained from the One Start Deskfrom our online forms page.

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What is the fee to request a zoning change?

The zoning fee schedule can be found here.

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How long will the Zoning process take?

The zoning process will take approximately twelve (12) weeks to complete.

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What is the notification process?

The applicant and all owners of real property within 200 feet of the proposed change are notified by mail of both the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council public hearings, at least 10 days before the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing.

Publication of the “Notice of Public Hearing” for both the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council public hearings also appears at least 15 days before the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing in The Fort Worth Star Telegram. Signs are posted on the property approximately two weeks before the public hearing. Also, pertinent information about upcoming zoning cases is placed on the City’s Video Bulletin Board on Telecable Channel 5 approximately 25 to 30 days before the first public hearing. This service includes the applicant’s name and phone number.

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How can citizens participate in the zoning process? How can you support or oppose a request?

One of the principal functions of municipal government is to encourage citizen participation within the framework of local government operations and decision making. During the public hearings, the applicant and people in favor of or opposed to the request may present their views.

In addition to speaking at the public hearing, you may also send letters to the Commission and Council either directly or through the Department of Community Development and Planning, or you may discuss the case with the Planning and Zoning Commissioners or Council Members.

A petition is a more formal process of registering your support for or opposition to a request. A petition becomes a permanent part of the case and must be filed with the City Secretary. Petitions can be found on the Zoning Forms page.

Regardless of the type of petition, there is no legal effect on the Planning and Zoning Commission’s vote. A simple majority vote recommending approval or denial of a zoning request is all that is required of the Commission. However, the Commission’s decision may be influenced by petitions of support or opposition.

Petitions of support may influence final Council action, but they have no legal effect. Petitions of opposition (individual form, group form) submitted to the City Secretary, that are properly notarized and meet state and local criteria will invoke a required three-fourths vote of approval to permit a change. In order to invoke the mandatory three-fourths approval, the petition must be signed by the owners of at least 20 percent of either:

  • the total area of the land (whether platted or otherwise) included within the boundaries of the proposed change; or,
  • the total area of the land (whether platted or otherwise) outside of the boundaries of the proposed change and within 200 feet of any point of the land proposed to be changed.

Only one vote per lot in support or opposition per owner is permitted. The “owner” is the owner shown on the City’s most recently approved ad valorem tax roles. For example, if John Doe appears as the owner on the tax rolls, then the signature on the petition should be John Doe. If joint ownership appears on the tax rolls, i.e., John and Mary Doe, then John Doe and/or Mary Doe should sign the petition. Additionally, the person who collected the petitioners’ signatures should sign a sworn notarized statement that he/she witnessed the petition being signed by the petitioners.

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How does the Planning and Zoning Commission review zoning cases?

The Planning and Zoning Commission is an appointed advisory body to the City Council. The Commission meets on scheduled Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at the Council Chamber/City Hall, 101 West Abram Street.

The applicant or a representative is expected to attend the Commission hearing and typically make a short presentation supporting the request.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will attempt to reach a decision recommending approval or denial of the zoning change on the night of the hearing. If more time is needed, the Planning and Zoning Commission may either continue the public hearing to a future date or table the case. Since notification of the Commission and City Council Public Hearings is made simultaneously, a case that is continued or tabled requires cancellation of the original City Council public hearing date. The case is rescheduled for the first available City Council meeting following the Commission’s final action and the renotification is made.

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How does the City Council review zoning cases?

If the P&Z Commission recommends approval of a zoning change request, or an amended version of the request, the case is automatically forwarded to City Council for another public hearing. Depending upon Council’s schedule, the public hearing is typically held two weeks after the Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing. If the request is denied by the Commission, the request is automatically considered by City Council the following week to determine whether or not a public hearing will be granted. This consideration is not a public hearing and the applicant does not have an opportunity to speak. However, the applicant should attend the meeting to answer any questions the Council may ask. Due to the limited opportunity to speak, the applicant may wish to write a letter to the Council requesting they grant a public hearing. If Council grants the request, the hearing is typically held the following week, unless the original public hearing date has been cancelled because the Planning and Zoning Commission tabled or continued the public hearing. If the Council does not grant the hearing, the request is denied.

City Council public hearings are held during regular Council meetings. The Council meets on scheduled Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Council Chamber/City Hall, 101 West Abram Street. City Council meeting schedule.

The applicant or a representative is expected to attend the Council public hearing to make a presentation supporting the request. After the public hearing, the Council may vote on the request for First Reading. However, if any opposition is expressed during the public hearing, the request may be tabled at least one week. The Council also has the option of tabling a request regardless of opposition expressed. If approved, the item is placed on the Consent Agenda the following week for a final vote. If the request is denied on First Reading, there will not be another vote.

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What is the effective date of the new zoning?

After the request is approved on Final Reading, an ordinance is prepared and published twice in The Fort Worth Star Telegram, approximately 9 and 16 days following Final Reading by Council. The Ordinance is effective on the second publication date and sent to the City Secretary’s Office for recording with legal description. On the effective date of the ordinance, the new zoning designation is placed on the Official Zoning Map.

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What if a request is denied?

If the request is denied or withdrawn after the Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing publication date, the same or more intensive request cannot be made on that property for one year. A request for a waiver of the time limitation may be submitted in a letter to City Council. The letter should be submitted to the Department of Community Development and Planning and state the reasons why a waiver should be granted. Staff prepares a report to City Council which analyzes the situation and makes a recommendation. Council will typically vote on the request when it first appears on their agenda. The process takes approximately two weeks. Requests for planned development districts and/or development plan approval do not require a waiting period.

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Can a request be postponed or withdrawn?

To request a postponement, the applicant should submit a letter to the Department of Community Development and Planning six working days before the scheduled public hearing. If any newspaper publication or property owner notification has been made by the City regarding the public hearing, a renotification fee of $125 is required.

To withdraw a zoning request prior to the Planning and Zoning Commission action, the applicant should submit a letter to the Department of Community Development and Planning prior to being placed on the City Council’s agenda. After this time, but prior to City Council’s Final Reading, a request can be made to City Council to withdraw the case. However, Council determines whether to withdraw a case already on their agenda.

A full refund of the application fee is attainable if the case is withdrawn before the “notice of public hearing” publication date. A partial refund is attainable if the case is withdrawn prior to the Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing. A withdrawal either after the publication date or before the Commission public hearing is the same as a denial and requires a one-year waiting period before submitting a new request.

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What are Overlay Districts?

There are seven overlay districts designed to meet special area needs. The intent of each district varies. The districts are:

  • “APO” Airport Overlay District
  • “CDO” Conservation District Overlay
  • “DNO” Downtown Neighborhood Overlay District
  • “EDO” Entertainment Overlay District
  • “LCMUO” Lamar Collins Mixed Use Overlay District
  • “LPO” Landmark Preservation Overlay District
  • “PD” Planned Development District

Additional processing requirements, fees, and/or application forms may be required for these districts. A meeting with a planner is strongly encouraged to discuss the additional requirements and regulations in these districts. Specific information regarding these districts is found in the Unified Development Code. For more information and a complete listing of Zoning Districts go to the Zoning District Summary page.

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