Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I find out if my property is in the floodplain? What does it mean if it is?

The Planning Office has copies of the FEMA floodplain insurance rate maps which generally indicate whether property is located in the 100-year regulatory floodplain. If the property is located in this area, new development must be constructed to the standards set out in the Zoning Ordinance.

Generally, residential construction must be elevated two feet above the regulatory flood elevation and non-residential construction (commercial and industrial) must be elevated one foot above the regulatory elevation. Prior to issuance of a building permit, a local (and perhaps state) floodplain development permit must be issued.

How do I find out where my front property line is?

Property corners should be pinned. If an owner cannot locate the pins, you may need to hire a surveyor to locate the property corners. A subdivision plat will provide the lot boundaries; however, the City does not have a survey crew that can go out and locate the corners. The front property line is not the same as the street curb. There is an area beyond the constructed street which is still public right-of-way where utilities and sidewalks may be located.

Where can I get a copy of my subdivision plat?

The official plat is recorded at the Register of Deeds Office located on the third floor of the County Courthouse at 11th and Massachusetts Street. Reduced copies are also on file in the City Public Works Department located on the ground floor of City Hall at 6th and Massachusetts Street. You may also access the plat images with the Interactive Mapping feature. Here is a short video on how to search subdivision's.

Can I operate a business in my home?

The city does not require a license for a home occupation; however, the city does require registration of certain types of home occupations. Section 20-537 of the Land Development Code outlines regulations for Type A and Type B home occupations. A Type A home occupation is one where residents use their home as a place of work, with no employees or customers/clients coming to the site. Examples include artists, crafts people, writers, and consultants. A Type B home occupation is one where an employee and/or customers/clients come to the site. Examples are counseling, tutoring, and hair cutting/styling. A Type B home occupation requires registration with the Planning Office. The Planning Office can be contacted at (785) 832-3150.

Several college students have moved into the house next door. Is this legal in a single-family district?

For RS Districts, the Zoning Ordinance defines a family as "a person living alone, or two or more persons related by blood, marriage, or legal adoption, or a group of not more than three (3) persons not related by blood or marriage, living together as a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit..." Therefore, a group of three unrelated individuals may occupy a single-family residence.

What is the deadline for submission of a site plan? What is typical timeframe for review?

Site plans submitted prior to noon each Tuesday are typically reviewed within 4 – 6 weeks. Two paper copies and an electronic copy of a site plan are submitted to the Planning Office. These are electronically distributed to various in-house departments and public utility agencies for review and comment. The assigned planner coordinates the review and prepares a report to the Planning Director with recommendations for action. A building permit may not be issued [by the Development Services Division] for a new development until a site plan has been approved and all conditions of approval have been met.

What are conditional uses?

The City Land Development Code and County Zoning Regulations recognize that there are uses with unique characteristics or unusual site development features which may require special review in order to locate within the community without significant impact to surrounding land uses or the community at- large. The City Code calls these Special Uses and the County Code identifies them as Conditional Uses. Such uses include child care centers, recreational uses, major utility improvements and communication towers. The process for review of such uses includes a public hearing before the Planning Commission and approval by the City or County Commission prior to issuance of a building permit or start of operation.

How long does it take to secure a building permit?

Permits are issued after all required information is received and reviewed for code compliance. Initial reviews for residential permit application are generally completed within 5 business days. Initial reviews for commercial permit applications are generally completed within 15 business days. An initial review is a comprehensive first review of an application and plans for a building project, and may include review work performed by staff from Planning and Development Services, Fire and Medical, Utilities, and Public Works Departments as well as other relevant review agencies depending on the nature and scope of the project.

Do I need a permit to install a fence?

You do not need a permit to put up a fence however, you will need to follow the City's Fence Requirements.

Do I need a permit to add a deck?

If your deck is 30 inches above grade, a building permit is required and all deck construction will follow the adopted building codes. If your deck is not 30 inches above grade and does not compromise any property line set-backs, no building permit is required.

Do I need a permit to hang a temporary banner outside my business?

Yes. One temporary sign permit is allowed per year with a $25 permit fee. Sign Permit Application

How do I make a property maintenance complaint?

To file an exterior yard condition or weed complaint, please contact either Julie Wyatt, Code Enforcement Officer, at 832-3112, or Dan Johnson, Code Enforcement Officer, at 832-3115. For Rental/Housing complaints please contact either Brian Jimenez, Code Enforcement Manager, at 832-3111 or Treni Westcott, Code Enforcement Officer, at 832-3107. You may make an anonymous complaint by completing our online Code Violation Form.

Where can I place a garage sale sign?

The only allowable placement of a garage sale sign is on the property which is having the sale. The sign must be no larger than 9 sq. ft. (3'x3') and must not be placed within the street right-of-way. The sign may be posted for the duration of the garage sale. Illegal signs will be confiscated.

Do I need a permit to build a swimming pool, and does it need to be enclosed by a fence?

Yes, a permit is required to build a swimming pool. Swimming pools are required to be enclosed by a privacy fence that is 6 feet in height. Additional information about swimming pool requirements in the City can be found at the Lawrence Douglas County Health Department website at http://ldchealth.org/our-services/regulatory-services/pool-regulations/. Also keep in mind the swimming pool contractors, and electrical and plumbing contractors that work on swimming pool installations, are required to be licensed by the City. Contact the Building Safety Division at (785) 832-7700 for additional information or questions.

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