PlanningDev-Plans

FAQ

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  • The public right-of-way refers to the land area dedicated to public use, typically for pedestrian and vehicular movement. The public right-of-way is controlled and generally maintained by a public agency, such as the City, County, State, or Federal government. Public rights-of-way can include streets, alleys, sidewalks, paths, landscaping, drainage facilities, lighting, and other utilities and infrastructure.
  • The parkway is the portion of the public right-of-way between the curb or edge of street pavement and the property boundary of the adjacent private property. This area often includes landscaped areas, sidewalks, paths, street trees, and sometimes other public infrastructure such as water and sewer lines and utility lines, such as electric, telephone, and cable. Landowners are required to maintain the parkway, including sidewalks and landscaping, located adjacent to their property.
  • Generally, easements establish a portion of private property where someone other than the landowner has legal property rights. Utility easements provide space for utilities such as water, sewer, electricity, and cable. Drainage easements allow water to flow to an area designated for detention. Access easements allow the public access across or to a particular area. No structures are allowed to be built over an easement, including swimming pools. For easement locations on a particular property, contact the Planning Department at (325) 676-6237.
  • If there is not enough space in front of the house to build a carport and comply with current setback regulations (see SETBACK below) the homeowner can request a Special Exception from the Board of Adjustment. Special Exceptions are granted based primarily on compatibility with surrounding land uses. See Special Exceptions under the Board of Adjustment Application for more information and to apply.
  • Please review the following document:
    Fences, Walls, and Hedges in Residential Areas
  • Please call (325) 676-6237 for more information.
  • Please review the following document:
    Home Occupations
  • Setbacks vary depending on zoning, street classification, and the surrounding zoning districts. Information on individual properties must be obtained from the Planning Department. Please call (325) 676-6237.
  • If all options have been explored and there are no feasible alternatives within the regulations of the ordinance, a property owner can request a variance from the Board of Adjustment. They must demonstrate that the request has no negative effective on public health, safety, or welfare, and that there is some unique characteristic of the property that does not allow compliance with the current regulations. The property owner must also demonstrate a non-financial hardship if they were not granted a variance to the regulations. See Variance Requests under the Board of Adjustment Application for more information or to apply.
  • Building permits are required for any structures that will have electricity. If there is no electricity, a permit is only required if the building will be over 200 square feet. Building permits are not required for fences 7’ or less in height or decks lower than 30” in height. Building permits can be obtained from the Development Service Center on the first floor of City Hall. Contact Building Inspection for specific details. Also, see Fences, Walls, and Hedges in Residential Areas for details on fencing requirements.
  • Site plans are required for all new structures except detached single-family dwellings and duplexes. Additions to do not require site plan review if they are attached and less than 50 percent of the value and square footage of the existing structure.

    Site Plan Application and Checklist
  • ACCESSORY USE: An activity or structure incidental or secondary to the principal use on the site.

    BUILDING LINE: A building limit fixed at a specific distance from the front or side boundaries of a lot beyond which a structure cannot be constructed. See also SETBACK

    CARPORT or PATIO COVER: A roofed structure that must be open on at least 2 ¾ sides if it is attached and 3 sides if it is detached from the primary structure.
    Carport Information

    COMPREHENSIVE PLAN: The City of Abilene’s long-range plan intended to guide the growth and development of the community and including analysis and recommendations concerning the community’s population, economy, housing, transportation, community facilities, and land use.
    Comprehensive Plan

    CONDITIONAL USE: A use that may locate in certain zoning districts provided it meets specific conditions established within the Zoning Ordinance.

    DEDICATION: A turning over of private land for public use by an owner or developer, and its acceptance for such use by the governmental agency in charge of the public function for which it will be used. This is generally done for roads, parks, schools, and other public uses.

    EASEMENT: A portion of private property where someone other than the landowner has legal property rights. Structures or other obstructions cannot be built over them. Different types of easements serve different purposes, i.e. utilities, streetlights, drainage, etc. Access to the property is usually required for maintenance and monitoring purposes. Easements can be released to the property owner only with the approval of all parties who use the easement. Easement Release Application

    HOME OCCUPATION: An activity undertaken for gain by a resident and conducted as an accessory use in the resident’s dwelling.
    Home Occupation Requirements 

    LEGAL DESCRIPTION: The description of a piece of property using the lot and block numbers within a platted subdivision. Metes and bounds descriptions are also considered legal descriptions.

    METES AND BOUNDS: A system of describing and identifying land by measures (metes) and directions (bounds) from an identifiable point of reference. This system can be used for a legal description in place of lot and block designation within a platted subdivision.

    NONCONFORMING USE: A structure or use that is not permitted in its present district’s zoning regulations. If it was established after the enactment of the ordinance, it is illegal and may be abated. If it existed prior to the enactment of the current regulations it may continue, although it cannot be expanded or replaced with another nonconforming use. If the use ceases to exist for a 6-month period it will lose its legal status and will not be allowed to remain.
    See the Permitted Use Charts (refer to page 81) for specific use locations.

    OPAQUE (with regards to screening and fencing): Constructed so that you cannot see through to the other side.
    Fencing Information

    OVERLAY ZONE: A set of zoning requirements applicable within a specifically delineated area imposed over an existing (base) zoning district. Development within the overlay zone shall conform to all requirements of base zoning district except where overlay zone requirements specify otherwise. Overlay Zoning Districts (refer to page 42)

    PLAT: An official map or chart representing a tract of land showing the division of that tract into one or more separate parcels. Plats indicate the placement and length of property lines and easements within a particular subdivision and must be prepared by a licensed land surveyor in the state of Texas. Plats are filed for permanent record with the County Clerk in the courthouse and with the Planning Department.

    PARKWAY: The portion of the public right-of-way between the curb or edge of street pavement and the property boundary of the adjacent private property.

    REPLAT: An official map or chart representing changes to a previously-platted tract of land. It must be prepared by a licensed land surveyor in the state of Texas. Replats, just like other plats, must be filed for permanent record with the County Clerk in the courthouse and with the Planning Department.

    RIGHT-OF-WAY: A street and the areas on either side leading up to private property.

    SCREENING: Fencing, walls, planted berms, or densely planted vegetation that acts as a buffer between incompatible land uses.

    SETBACK: The area designated around the outer edges of all lots where structures are prohibited. Setback requirements vary based on zoning, type of structure, adjacent street classification, and other factors.

    SITE PLAN: A scaled drawing of proposed construction that is reviewed by city staff and utility company representatives. Site plans are required for all new structures except detached single-family dwellings and duplexes. Additions to do not require site plan review if they are attached and less than 50 percent of the value and square footage of the existing structure.
    Site Plan Application and Checklist

    SPECIAL EXCEPTION: Some uses require approval from the Board of Adjustment before they are permitted in certain zoning districts. A public hearing must be held and the request must be compatible with the surrounding area to be approved. 
    Board of Adjustment Application 

    VARIANCE: These allow for adjustments to specific ordinance requirements, owing to special and unique conditions, where the literal enforcement of the ordinance provision results in an unnecessary hardship. They can only be approved by the Board of Adjustment through a public hearing process. 
    Board of Adjustment Application

    ZONING: Zoning regulations establish the permitted uses; placement, height, bulk, and coverage of structures; and many other development requirements such as landscaping, screening, and sign regulations. All land within the City of Abilene has a designated zoning district.

    ZONING DISTRICT: A classification within which the regulations specified are uniform and which is assigned to a particular area of the City as indicated on the Zoning District Map. Abilene has 20 different zoning districts.
    Zoning Districts (refer to page 16)