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Planning FAQ


Q. What is a setback?
A. A setback is the minimum required separation that must be maintained between a property line and a building or structure on a lot. The City’s Land Development Code typically provides standards for front-yard, rear-yard and side-yard setbacks.

Q. What is I.S.R.?
A. Impervious Surface Ratio (I.S.R.) is the impervious surface area divided by the building site area. Impervious surface area is the area of ground covered by any part of a building, street, vehicular use area, or any other structure, improvement or facility or material that prevents or severely restricts natural percolation of moisture, not including residential swimming pools. For example, if the I.S.R. for a 10,000 square foot lot is 0.60, the maximum area of the lot that can be covered by impervious surfaces is 6,000 square feet.

Q. What is F.A.R.?
A. Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R.) is a factor used to measure the intensity of development on a given project. F.A.R. is calculated by dividing gross floor area (of all levels of a multi-story building) by the gross lot area. For example, a 5,000 square foot building on a 10,000 square foot lot has an F.A.R. of 0.50. Parking garages are excluded from the FAR calculation.

Q. What is Density?
A. Density refers to the number of residential dwelling units permitted per acre of land. It is determined by dividing the number of dwelling units by the gross area in acres, of the lot or development site.

Q. What is Intensity?
A. Intensity refers to the bulk or mass of a use on a building site or development site, as expressed by either residential density or nonresidential floor area ratio.

Q. What is the Growth Management Plan?
A. The Growth Management Plan (GMP) is the City’s comprehensive plan. They GMP contains the City’s adopted long-term goals, objectives and policies for guiding development throughout the city. The Future Land Use Map series is part of the adopted GMP. All development decisions by the City must be consistent with the GMP.

Q. What is the Future Land Use Map?
A. The Future Land Use map is a series of officially adopted, color maps depicting the type, intensity and location of various land uses allowed throughout the City.

Q. What is a Duplex?
A. A duplex is a single structure on a single lot containing two attached dwelling units, each of which is totally separated from the other by a common wall un-punctured for any purpose.

Q. What is Tandem Housing?
A. Tandem Housing refers to two houses on one lot, which can be subdivided into two lots and sold fee simple. Lots must be subdivided prior to development of second unit. The location of
new tandem housing is subject to several restrictions contained in the City Code.

Q. What is a Planned Development?
A. A planned development is a zoning district that provides specific guidelines for the design and layout of a development project. It allows for flexibility from the development standards in City Code with the aim of achieving superior urban form.

Q. My property is located on a lake (or near a wetland). Are there any restrictions to building an addition onto my home?
A. The code requires a 50 ft. principal building setback from a natural water body. Also, it requires a 50 ft. setback from a retained wetland, and a 100 ft. setback from a protected wetland. A building permit is required.

Q. I would like to build a shed (or detached garage) in my backyard. Does City code regulate this?
A. For accessory (detached) structures that are 12 feet in height or less, and which are at least 100 square feet in size, the code requires at least a 5 foot setback from the rear property line. Depending on your zoning district, code requires a minimum side yard setback of 5 to 7.5 feet. If the structure is taller than 12 feet, the rear setback must be at least 15 feet; the side setback depends on your zoning district. In both cases, a building permit is required.

Q. Does the City allow Mobile Food Trucks to operate?
A. The City regulates Mobile Food Trucks or Vendors with a very specific set of rules. Only certain locations may host Food Trucks, for limited amounts of time, and it must be with the permission of the property owner.