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As a result of the approval of the Unified Development Code (UDC) and the completion of the parish-wide Comprehensive Rezoning of all properties in St. Tammany Parish, many of the procedures that were commonly used in the past have been revised. Tammany Together has received numerous questions from citizens confused by changes in the zoning process. We have produced this brief guide to help citizens better understand the current processes. Below is a brief summary of the changes to zoning practices and regulations, followed by more details about the changes and current processes.
DISCLAIMER: This guide has been assembled by Tammany Together, Inc. based on our best efforts to understand the revised zoning process. It is only a summary, and the information it contains is subject to change. It is not an official publication of the Parish, and it should not be relied on as legal advice. For the latest information and specific questions, please contact the Parish Administration, review the ordinances and codes online at www.stpgov.org, and/or seek legal counsel.
For a printable copy of this document, click here.
New Zoning Codes ("Unified Development Code" or UDC)
The Suburban Agriculture (SA) and Rural (R) zoning categories have been eliminated; highway commercial zones have been expanded, as have neighborhood commercial zones; four Medical District Zones; two Public Facility zones (includes the former Institutional (ID) zoning) and a Community Based Facilities District; Education, Industrial, Planned Business Campuses, Animal Training, Traditional Neighborhood Developments and numerous residential zones. There is even a classification for Riverboat Gaming even though Riverboat Gaming is not presently allowed in St. Tammany Parish.
Note: The new UDC continues to evolve, with new classifications being added and the requirements for existing classifications modified. This process is handled through Zoning Commission and Parish Council public meetings.
Here is the link to the complete Unified Development Code: www.stpgov.org/departments_planning_unified.php.
New Zoning Codes Assigned to All Property
The Comprehensive Rezoning process assigned the new zoning codes to all property in the parish. While many residential properties retained their former designations, the rules for those codes have changed. All other properties have been assigned one of the new codes.
Here is the link to the Comprehensive Rezoning Maps: www.stpgov.org/pdf/1216910271.pdf. Simply click on one of the Wards and the zoning map for that area will be shown. You can zoom in to see more detail.
Rezoning Process Unchanged
Even though all property in St. Tammany has been assigned new zoning codes, property owners still have the right to request a change to a different zoning classification.
Since every parcel in the parish was just recently rezoned, one might think that there would be few new zoning cases. In fact, as of this writing the Zoning Commission is still cleaning up inconsistencies and errors on some of the rezoned properties, and property owners and developers continue to seek rezoning at a brisk pace.
The Zoning Commission meets to hear these cases on the first Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. Yellow signs are still posted at least ten days in advance at the site where a rezoning has been requested. The cases are advertised in the St. Tammany Farmer and the agenda is posted online at the Parish website.
Here is the link to the Zoning Commission Agendas: www.stpgov.org/online_planning.php?cat=6. The agenda is typically posted online approximately seven to ten days before the meeting. NOTE: You can easily get to this and other agendas referenced below by clicking on the tab for "Online Services" on the Parish Website, www.stpgov.org.
Appeals of Zoning Change Decisions
Either the applicant or the public may appeal decisions made by the Zoning Commission to the Parish Council. The appeal forms must be submitted within ten days of the date of the decision. Appeal forms are located at the front of the Parish Council Chambers and at the Planning Department office at Koop Drive. You may fill out the form after the Zoning Commission decision and hand it to one of the planners at the oval-shaped table in front of the dais or return it later to the Planning Department.
The Parish Council meets on the first Thursday of the month at 6:00 p.m. Appeals from the prior month’s Zoning and Planning meetings are heard at this meeting. Anyone not agreeing with a decision made by the Parish Council has the right to file a lawsuit with the 22nd Judicial District Court.
Here is a link to the Parish Council Agendas: www.stpgov.org/leadership_agendas.php. The agenda is typically posted online approximately seven to nine days before the meeting.
Administrative Permits versus Conditional Use Permits
Formerly, many of the uses allowed in a zoning classification required a public hearing by the Zoning Commission before permission was granted. The Commission could add different conditions to be met for the development and grant a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that included these provisions. These hearings were advertised and posted with yellow signs just like zoning cases. This is no longer the case.
As part of the adoption of the UDC, Conditional Uses have been eliminated and the uses allowed "by right" are enumerated for each zoning classification. The Planning Department staff has the authority to grant Administrative Permits when the applicant is requesting a permit for a use that is granted by right in a particular zoning district. For instance, large commercial developments can simply get a permit in certain Highway Commercial zones, smaller retail buildings and offices can get a permit in Neighborhood Commercial zones, and many heavy commercial uses can be granted in Industrial zones.
There is no public notice nor public hearing for nearly all uses as long as the requested use does not require a zoning change. The permits that have been issued are posted to the Parish website.
Here is a link showing Permits that have been issued: www2.stpgov.org/permits/PermitSearch/.
Appeals of Administrative Permit Decisions – Board of Adjustments
If an applicant seeks a waiver or a variance of the requirements for a given zoning designation or has been denied a permit (or been told that a violation would occur if the permit were to be issued), the applicant may file an appeal/variance request with the Board of Adjustments. Likewise, a citizen who objects to an Administrative Permit decision may file an appeal.
Appeals must be submitted "within a reasonable time" to be heard, and must be received 30 days in advance of a meeting to be placed on the agenda. The Secretary of the Board of Adjustments acts as the "gatekeeper" of the agenda and has discretion over whether to "book a case", but recent practice has been to book all but obviously frivolous cases or open-and-shut denials of the appeal.
The board comprises five appointed commission members and two alternates. (Because a ruling passes only if it receives 4 votes, the "alternate seats" are held by persons who can sit in and vote when a regular member is unable to attend a meeting.)
The agenda is advertised in the St. Tammany Farmer and published on the Parish website. No "yellow signs" are posted on the subject property.
The Board of Adjustments presently meets at 3:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. (The time of day was picked so as not to interfere with Zoning Commission meetings which are held in the evening on the same day.) Anyone not agreeing with a decision made by the Board of Adjustments has the right to file a lawsuit with the 22nd Judicial District Court. Decisions by the Board of Adjustment cannot be appealed to the Parish Council.
Here is the link to the Board of Adjustments agendas: www.stpgov.org/online_planning.php?cat=7. The agenda is typically posted online approximately seven to ten days before the meeting.
Information about the Board of Adjustments is in Section 3.0104 of the UDC at www2.stpgov.org/planning/udc/section_3_administration_and_enforcement.pdf.
Even after a property is rezoned, those seeking permits to construct commercial and residential subdivisions, including Traditional Neighborhood Developments and Planned Business Campuses, have several additional procedures that they must follow. The Planning Commission grants Preliminary, Tentative, and Final Subdivision Review approvals. See www.stpgov.org/code/ ("Appendix B Chapter 40 Subdivisions" contains information regarding the various phases of subdivision approvals that are required). The amount of detail required by the developer regarding the project gets more specific as the approval process proceeds.
The Planning Commission comprises the same eleven members as the Zoning Commission. The Planning Commission meets the second Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m.
Here is the link to the Planning Commission Agendas: www.stpgov.org/online_planning.php?cat=5. The agenda is typically posted online approximately ten to fourteen days before the meeting.
Appeals of Planning Commission Decisions
Either the applicant or the public may appeal, within ten days of the decision, decisions made at Preliminary and Tentative Reviews to the Parish Council. Only the Developer may appeal a denial of the Final Subdivision Review to the Parish Council and must do so within ten days of the decision. If a permit is denied by the Planning Commission and no appeal is filed, the request is terminated. Anyone not agreeing with a decision made by the Parish Council has the right to file a lawsuit with the 22nd Judicial District Court.
Revision date: February 1, 2011