Merriam-Webster defines zone as "an area that is different from other areas in a particular way" and "one of the sections in a city or town that is used for a particular purpose." A comprehensive zoning ordinance then is the tool used by cities to divide the city into sections or districts prescribing regulations specific to each zone. Chapter 211 of the Texas Local Government Code states the purpose of zoning is to promote "the public health, safety, morals, or general welfare" and protect and preserve "places and areas of historical, cultural, or architectural importance and significance." Chapter 211 gives cities the ability to regulate:
- The height, number of stories, and size of buildings and other structures;
- The percentage of a lot that may be occupied;
- The size of yards, courts, and other open spaces;
- Population density;
- The location and use of buildings, other structures, and land for business, industrial, residential, or other purposes; and
- The pumping, extraction, and use of groundwater by persons other than retail public utilities, as defined by Section 13.002, Water Code, for the purpose of preventing the use or contact with groundwater that presents an actual or potential threat to human health.
As an advisory board to the White Oak City Council, the White Oak Planning & Zoning Commission is responsible for making recommendations regarding amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, changes of zoning, and shall make recommendations regarding the approval of plats and subdivisions as may be submitted to it for review and other planning related matters.
The current Zoning Ordinance was approved and adopted in 2009. The ordinance classifies uses of land into zones of commercial, residential, and industrial districts. Unless given a specific use provision, all property must adhere to the zoning category in which the property is located. Procedures that govern proposals for changes to zoning standards and rezoning are included in the ordinance. This Zoning Quick Reference Guide provides a table of the requirements for each zoning district, such as allowable uses, minimum lot sizes, and setbacks. The Guide is not intended to be comprehensive; therefore, always refer to the specific Zoning District Regulations. Section 26 of the Zoning Ordinance is the Use Regulation Chart. It is helpful to the user by designating what type of use is allowable or requires a SUP in each zoning district.
Zoning Application Categories
There are three types of zoning applications and each must be signed by the property owner accompanied by the respective filing fee when submitted.
- All multi-family residential districts and uses with proposed developments of two (2) or more dwelling units;
- All manufactured home districts and mobile home parks;
- All non-residential districts and uses having one (1) or more acre of land area, and/or twenty thousand (20,000) square feet of building (i.e., floor) area.
There are special exceptions to the Zoning Ordinance called specific use provisions "SUP" (or permits). Each SUP is considered by the P&Z Board on an individual basis and specially approved by the City Council for situational suitability. When the P&Z Board considers a SUP application, the following items are taken into consideration:
The Board of Adjustments is allowed to:
The Sixth Edition of Black's Law Dictionary defines a zoning variance as an "authorization to a property owner to depart from literal requirements of zoning regulations in utilization of his property in cases in which strict enforcement of the zoning regulations would cause undue hardship."
Conditions Required for Variance
ALL DECISIONS OF THE ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENTS ARE FINAL AND BINDING. The Board may impose such conditions, limitations and safeguards as it deems appropriate upon the granting of any variance. An applicant may only appeal a decision of the Board of Adjustments with a writ of certiorari to state district court, county court, or a county court at law.
To apply for a variance, a Request for Zoning Ordinance Variance must be submitted accompanied by a $150 filing fee and any supporting documentation for your case. When these items are submitted, a specific timeline is initiated. Property owners within 200 feet of the property to receive the variance is notified by U.S. mail at least ten (10) days before the first public hearing, which is held at the Board of Adjustments meeting. The Notice for a Public Hearing must be legally advertised in the White Oak Independent newspaper.