Indiana Land Use Planning (1-IN-a)
Land Use Planning Process
1-IN-a.1 – Review Comprehensive Plan
The developer should research the plan and any accompanying maps, studies, or other relevant information in order to determine the goals and planning strategies that apply to the proposed project site. Indiana requires municipalities and counties to adopt comprehensive plans, and prohibits a county or municipality from implementing a zoning ordinance without one. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-501; Ind. Code § 36-7-4-601. A comprehensive plan must include:
- A statement of objectives for the future development of the jurisdiction;
- A statement of policy for the land use development of the jurisdiction; and
- A statement of policy for the development of public ways, public places, public lands, public structures, and public utilities.
Optional elements of a plan include, but are not limited to:
- Surveys and studies of current conditions and probable future growth;
- Maps, plats, charts and descriptive materials of physical site conditions, land use, population densities, public ways, and the like;
- Reports & maps for planned development and redevelopment of areas.
Municipal and county comprehensive plans will provide a context for determining if the proposed development activity is compatible with the community’s overall plans for development.
1-IN-a.2 – Review Municipal and County Zoning Regulations
A developer should check the relevant government website or with the county or city clerk to review the applicable municipal and county zoning regulations to ensure the proposed project will comply with the zoning regulations.
Indiana does not require a county or municipality to implement zoning regulations. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-601. However, counties and municipalities that have passed zoning regulations may create zoning districts that regulate the physical characteristics of buildings and use of the land within the district. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-601.
1-IN-a.3 to 1-IN-a.4 – Does the Project Require a Variation to a Zoning Regulation?
If a proposed project does not comply with zoning regulations, a developer may submit a petition for a variation to the zoning ordinance to the applicable municipality or county board or board of appeals. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-918.5. The petition for variance to a zoning ordinance petition requirements and procedural process varies pending on the jurisdiction. However, the municipal or county zoning board or board of appeal may only grant a variation to a zoning ordinance when the variation will not be injurious to the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the community. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-918.4. Additionally, the variance will not affect the use and value of the area adjacent to the property included in a variance in a substantially adverse manner. The relevant authority must make its determination in writing.
1-IN-a.5 to 1-IN-a.7 – Does the Project Require a Proposal to Amend a Comprehensive Plan?
A developer may propose to amend a municipal or county comprehensive plan. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-501. Adoption and amendments to county and municipal comprehensive plans vary pending on jurisdiction. However, the procedural process for amendments and adoptions of municipal and county plans must follow the general requirements in Ind. Code §§ 36-7-4-500 – 36-7-4-512 outlined below.
1-IN-a.8 to 1-IN-a.9 – Publish Notice of Public Hearing
A county or municipality may not adopt a comprehensive plan or amendment to the comprehensive plan without notice and public hearing. The appropriate municipal authority must publish notice of the public hearing for at least ten days prior to the hearing date. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-507. The notice should include the time and date of the hearing, published in a newspaper of general circulation. Any interested person may submit their comments orally, in writing, or both. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-507.
1-IN-a.10 to 1-IN-a.11 – Does the County or Municipal Authority Approve the Proposal?
After considering the proposed amendment or comprehensive plan and public comments, the appropriate county or municipal planning commission may approve the amended plan and certify the comprehensive plan to the relevant legislative authority. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-508.
After certification of the plan, the legislative body may approve, reject, or amend the plan by adopting a resolution. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-509. If adopted, the clerk of the legislative body must place on file one copy of the plan in the office of the county recorder. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-509.
1-IN-a.12 – Appeal Decision (Optional)
Appeals regarding municipal and county comprehensive plan decision are not classified as zoning decisions subject to judicial review in Indiana Ind. Code § 36-7-4-1016.
However, an interested party must file an appeal regarding a final zoning decision from the Board of Zoning Appeals. The appeal must state the grounds of the appeal and must be filed within the time and in the form specified by the specific board of appeal Ind. Code § 36-7-4-919.
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