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Missouri Land Use Planning (1-MO-a)

Information current as of 2021
Missouri delegates land use planning for development to municipalities, townships, and counties. The developer should contact the appropriate local government to ensure that the proposed project is consistent with planning, zoning, and development regulations.



Land Use Planning Process


1-MO-a.1 – Review City or Comprehensive Plan

A developer should review the municipality’s city plan or the comprehensive plan of the County or Township to ensure compliance with the plan. Under the State’s Zoning Enabling Act, municipal planning commissions must “make and adopt a city plan for the physical development of the municipality.”  Mo. Rev. Stat. § 89.340. 

When creating a city plan, planning commissions can make recommendations regarding the physical development of the municipality, including “the general location and extent of public utilities and terminals.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 89.340. No public utility, whether public or private, may be constructed without approval from the local planning commission, with regard to the “location, extent and character” of the utility. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 89.380.

1-MO-a.2 – Review Municipal or County Zoning Regulations

The Zoning Enabling Act also authorizes local municipalities to create zoning districts within their respective jurisdictions and to enact zoning and land use regulations for each district. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 89.030. The legislative bodies of all cities, towns, and villages have the power to regulate and restrict the size of buildings and other structures, and the location and use of buildings, structures, and land for “trade, industry, residence or other purposes” in order to promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the community. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 89.020. All zoning regulations must be made in accordance with the comprehensive city plan and must be made with reasonable consideration of the “character of the district and its peculiar suitability for particular uses, and with a view to conserving the values of buildings and encouraging the most appropriate use of land.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 89.040.

A developer should review the applicable municipal and county zoning regulations to ensure the proposed project will comply with the zoning regulations.


1-MO-a.3 to 1-MO-a.4 – Does the Project Require a Variance to the Zoning Regulation?

If the project does not conform with the existing zoning regulations, the developer may apply for a variation to the zoning regulations. 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 adjustment may only grant a variation to a zoning ordinance when the variation is necessary for the reasonable use of the land due to the specific geographic conditions of the project site or other exceptional situation that would create an undue hardship. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 64.120; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 65.675; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 89.090. In addition, the variation must not adversely affect the public health or undermine the goals of the comprehensive plan or zoning regulations.


1-MO-a.5 to 1-MO-a.7 – Does the Project Require Rezoning?

If the developer is unable to obtain a variance, the developer may petition for a change in the zoning regulations that will allow for the contemplated use. The requirements for amendments to county, township, and municipal zoning regulations vary pending on jurisdiction, but the amendments may not be considered without public notice and a hearing. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 64.140; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 65.692; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 89.060.


1-MO-a.8 to 1-MO-a.9 – Publish Notice of Public Hearing

The county, township, or municipality must publish notice of the public hearing at least 15 days prior to the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation. At the hearing, parties in interest and the general public may make their concerns heard. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 65.662; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 64.040; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 89.050.


1-MO-a.10 to 1-MO-a.11 – Does the Municipal or County Legislative Body Adopt the Amendment?

The local municipal or county government may adopt or deny the amendment, and each legislative body is free to set its own procedure to do so.


1-MO-a.12 – Appeal Decision (Optional)

The developer may appeal the decision of the local county or municipal legislative body to the local district court within 30 days of the decision of that body. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 65.690; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 64.870; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 89.110.


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