In this section:


       Meeting Place for Commission and LD&T                                                           

       Code available in CD format                                                                                  

         Neighborhood Notification Program Expansion                                                  

         Bicycle and Pedestrian Program                                                                           

         Environmental Trust                                                                                                 

         LOJIC Web Site                                                                                                       

         Planning and Development Services Web Site                                                   

         For Additional Information                                                                                       

Guide to Rezoning                                                                                                         

         Zoning Districts                                                                                                        

         For a copy of the Development Code                                                                   

         The Re-zoning Process                                                                                           


         Docket Information                                                                                                 

Zoning Enforcement                                                                                                   

         Zoning Violations and Environmental Nuisance                                                 

         Binding Elements                                                                                                   

         Reporting Violations                                                                                              

         Binding Element Ordinance                                                                                  

         Binding Element Enforcement Process                                                              

         Zoning Enforcement Officer                                                                                  

Board of Zoning Adjustment                                                                                     

         What does BOZA do?                                                                                           

         Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 100                                                            


         Conditional Use Permits                                                                                       

         Appeals or Administration Reviews                                                                    

         Non-Conforming Uses                                                                                           

         How BOZA operates                                                                                             




         Variances without Public Hearings                                                                      

         Board Members                                                                                                     

         Hearing Procedures                                                                                              


Guide to Standard Major Subdivisions                                                                  

         Standard Subdivision Process                                                                            

An Introduction to Cornerstone 2020                                                                     

         The Impetus for a New Comprehensive Plan                                                     

         The Development of the Cornerstone 2020 Comprehensive Plan                  

         Cornerstone 2020 Statutory Requirements                                                        

         Plan Elements                                                                                                        

         The Comprehensive Plan                                                                                     

         Who Developed Cornerstone 2020                                                                     

         How does Cornerstone 2020 differ from the 1979 Plan?                                 

         What is the “Two-Tiered Approach” in Cornerstone 2020?                              

         What is the basic idea behind Form Districts in Cornerstone 2020?              

         How will the Zoning District Tier and the Form District Tier be used

           in the development decisions?                                                                                

Guide to Small Area Plans                                                                                         

         Small Area Plan Process and the Role of Neighborhood Groups                   




Jefferson County Planning and Development Services (PDS) is a County agency. The division acts as staff for the Louisville and Jefferson County Planning Commission, the Louisville Board of Zoning Adjustment, and the Jefferson County Board of Zoning Adjustment. The Planning Commission is charged by statute with administering zoning and subdivision regulations and preparing a comprehensive plan to serve as a guide for development of public and private property. The Boards of Zoning Adjustment (BOZA) are authorized by Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 100 to hear and decide on applications for conditional use permits (which allow the integration of certain uses into the community), variances from the zoning regulations, and appeals of official action, order, or decision by zoning enforcement officers.


PDS is divided into five sections with varying responsibilities. The Development Services Section is responsible for rezonings, major and minor subdivisions, street/alley closures, record plats, community facility reviews, landscape and tree preservation, the customer service counter, parking waivers and detail development plans. Planning Services focuses on the comprehensive plan (Cornerstone 2020), the land development code, small area studies, and the bicycle and pedestrian plan. Compliance Services is responsible for conditional use permits, variances and appeals, cell towers, zoning enforcement and inspections, and tree preservation and landscape inspections. There is also an E-911 Section that maintains emergency response data and an Information Support Section that handles addressing issues, mapping support and LOJIC maintenance.


PDS staff accept applications for various development proposals, provide research and site inspections, perform technical reviews, provide analysis of proposal conformance with the comprehensive plan, advertise zoning changes, and compile staff reports for all zoning, subdivision, and BOZA cases. The Planning Commission holds public hearings, makes recommendations on zoning matters, and approves subdivisions. The Boards of Zoning Adjustment hold public hearings and make decisions regarding conditional use permits and variances to the zoning regulations. Conditional uses and variances associated with subdivisions and rezonings may be heard and decided by the Planning Commission.


Requests for zoning changes are researched and reviewed by PDS staff. The Commission holds a hearing and votes to recommend approval or denial to the proper legislative body. Authority for final approval or denial rests with the proper legislative body: with the Louisville Board of Aldermen on property within the Louisville city limits; with Jefferson County Fiscal Court on property inside the county but outside the city of Louisville and the city limits of the county’s twelve second, third, and fourth-class cities; and with the city councils of the following second, third and fourth-class cities on property within their boundaries—Anchorage, Douglass Hills, Graymoor-Devondale, Hurstbourne, Indian Hills, Jeffersontown, Lyndon, Middletown, Prospect, Shively, St. Regis Park, and St. Matthews. Decisions by the legislative bodies may be appealed to the courts.


The Planning Commission has delegated standard major subdivisions (those not requiring a change in zoning and that comply with the subdivision regulations) to staff for approval. An advisory body, the Technical Review Committee, which identifies, negotiates and resolves technical issues and conflicting agency requirements, reviews subdivisions. A public hearing is not required but waivers, appeals, and petitions are reviewed and decided by the Land Development and Transportation Committee of the Planning Commission.


The Planning Commission has 10 members. Six of the members are citizens appointed to staggered three-year terms: three are residents of the county outside the city limits appointed by the Jefferson County Judge/Executive, and three are city residents appointed by the Mayor of the city of Louisville. KRS 100.137 also requires that three of the six citizen appointees have no direct financial interest in the land development and construction industry. The public works director of the City and the County road engineer, as well as the County Judge/Executive and the Mayor (or their designees), are statutory ex-officio voting members of the Commission. The Commission holds two or three public hearings per month.


The Louisville BOZA has five citizen members, appointed by the Mayor. The Jefferson County BOZA has seven citizen members, appointed by the County Judge/Executive. All members are appointed to staggered four-year terms. Each board holds two public hearings per month.


Meeting Place for Commission and LD&T

The meeting location for the Louisville and Jefferson County Planning Commission and the Land Development and Transportation Committee is the Courtroom of the Old Jail Building, 514 W. Liberty Street. The regularly scheduled meeting time is 1 p.m.


Code available in CD format

The Jefferson County Development Code is available in compact disk format. The CD may be purchased from the Customer Service counter of Planning and Development Services for a nominal fee.


Neighborhood Notification Program Expansion

The Neighborhood Notification Program, which has been notifying registered community groups of rezoning and subdivision proposals in their respective areas since 1997, has been expanded. In addition to rezoning and subdivision proposals, notice is now also sent when applications are submitted for conditional use permits and variances. Notices of appeals to the Boards of Zoning Adjustment are also sent to registered neighborhood and community groups. To register your neighborhood or community group, contact Planning and Development Services at (502) 574-8198.


Bicycle and Pedestrian Program

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Program is a federally funded grant program operating in Planning and Development Services. This program is working to improve walking and bicycling in the regional metropolitan area. For information on the program, call (502) 574-8198.

Environmental Trust

The Jefferson County Environmental Trust assists landowners with land conservation options. The Trust is run by a nine member board. For an informational brochure about the Environmental Trust, which is staffed by Planning and Development Services, call (502) 574-8198.


LOJIC Web Site

The Louisville and Jefferson County Information Consortium (LOJIC) web site ( includes zoning information on specific addresses. In order to find the zoning district for a parcel of land on this web site, click on Application and Date Explanations, then Interactive Maps, and then Standard Information Map. Click the “zoom to an address” icon, type in the address of the site, and the site will appear on the screen in a color that matches one of the zoning district color keys. The specific zone can then be found by clicking on the ‘i’ icon.


Planning and Development Services Web Site

Planning and Development Services information can be found on the Jefferson County Web Site ( From the home page, click on Departments, then Planning and Development Services. Information about the division is found at this site, and links provide current dockets for the Planning Commission, Land Development and Transportation Committee, and the Boards of Zoning Adjustment. In addition to dockets, links also provide updates on area plans as well as information on other division activities.


For Additional Information

For additional information, you can also contact the Jefferson County Planning and Development Services at this address:

531 Court Place, Suite 900

Louisville, Kentucky 40202


The office telephone is (502) 574-6230. Fax (502) 574-8129.

Guide to Rezoning

All property in Jefferson County is assigned a zoning district. Rezoning is the process of reclassifying a property into a different zoning district in order to allow a different use or density than is allowed under the property’s current zoning. Applications for rezoning, filed by a property owner or developer acting on behalf of the owner, are processed by Planning and Development Services


Zoning Districts

Per the Development Code, Articles 4 through 7, zoning categories are as follows:



Maximum dwelling units*

                R-R, Rural Residential

1.00 dwelling per 5 acres

     R-E, Residential Estate

1.08 dwellings per acre

R-l, Residential Single Family

1.08 dwellings per acre

R-2, Residential Single Family

2.17 dwellings per acre

R-3, Residential Single Family

3.63 dwellings per acre

R-4, Residential Single Family

4.84 dwellings per acre

R-5, Residential Single Family

7.26 dwellings per acre

U-N, Urban Neighborhood

17.42 dwellings per acre

R-5A, Residential Multi-Family

12.01 dwellings per acre

R-5B, Residential Two-Family

2 dwellings per lot

R-6, Residential Multi-Family

17.42 dwellings per acre

R-7, Residential Multi-Family

34.8 dwellings per acre

R-8A, Residential Multi-Family

58.08 dwellings per acre

OR, Office/Residential

12 dwellings per acre

OR-1, Office Residential

34.84 dwellings per acre

OR-2, Office/Residential

58.08 dwellings per acre

OR-3, Office/Residential

435 units per acre

OTF, Office/Tourist Facility

435 units per acre

C-N, Neighborhood Commercial

17.42 dwellings per acre

C-R Commercial Residential

34.8 dwellings per acre

C-I, Commercial

34.84 dwellings per acre

C-2, Commercial

435 units per acre

C-3, Central Business

435 units per acre

C-M, Commercial Manufacturing

5.0 FAR**

EZ-1, Enterprise Zone

5.0 FAR

Maximum dwelling units*


M-l, Industrial

2.0 FAR


M-2, industrial

3.0 FAR


M-3, Industrial

4.0 FAR


PRO, Planned Research/Office

0.5 FAR and no more than 35% of the lot covered by structures


PEC, Planned Employment Center

1.0 FAR and no more than 50% of lot covered by structures


DRO, Development Review Overlay

Not applicable


W-I, Waterfront

435 units per acre


W-2, Waterfront

435 units per acre


W-3, Waterfront



WRO. Waterfront Development Review Overlay

Not applicable


CRO, Corridor Review Overlay (Louisville only)

Not applicable


PVD, Planned Village Development (Unincorporated County Only)

5 dwellings per net acre (plus density bonus)



*The numbers listed for maximum allowable dwellings per acre apply to unincorporated Jefferson County. Incorporated cities (example, Anchorage, Shively, Douglass Hills) may have adopted other standards for minimum lot size or maximum density. Some zoning districts only apply to the city of Louisville. The Development Code contains complete standards for each zoning district.


**Floor Area Ratio – the total floor area of all buildings on a lot, divided by the square footage of the lot. Total floor area includes the sum of the area of all stories of a building but does not include attic and basement space, garages or porches.


The zoning district assigned to most undeveloped land in Jefferson County is R-4. The Development Code goes into great detail about dwelling sizes, permitted uses, conditional uses, lot dimensions, yard requirements, and building heights and should be studied closely in reviewing any rezoning proposals. Other articles address fences, setbacks, parking, signs, and landscaping and buffering. By studying the Development Code, you can determine what standards to expect of a specific proposal and decide if those standards are acceptable to you and your neighbors.


For a copy of the Development Code

A copy of the Development Code is available on Jefferson County’s website at, or can be purchased from Jefferson County Planning and Development Services:
531 Court Place, Suite 900

Louisville, Kentucky  40202-3396


The phone number is (502) 574-6230 and the fax number is (502) 574-8129.

The Rezoning Process

There are 7 steps in the rezoning process:

1)      Meeting with Owner/Developer

2)      Pre-application Plan

3)      Formal filing of rezoning application

4)      Site inspection

5)      Land Development and Transportation Committee (LD&T) review

6)      The Public Hearing

7)      Legislative body (Board of Aldermen, Fiscal Court, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Class Cities) action

1)      Meeting with Owner/Developer - While it is not required, more and more owners/developers are seeing the wisdom of meeting with adjoining property owners, neighborhood groups, and other interested parties to address their concerns and to gauge community support or opposition before filing a rezoning application.  Such meetings are usually scheduled and run by the owner/developer in a local church or meeting room. You may want to notify other interested neighbors and your local neighborhood association when you become aware that a meeting is being held.  It is important that as many people as possible attend the meeting so that everyone gets the same information and can share their questions and concerns.

Before the meeting, do your homework. Ideally, the owner/developer has given you some idea of what zoning category he wants to apply for and what use he has in mind. Review the Development Code so that you know what the standards are for that zoning category. Think about the surrounding properties and current and future developments in the general area. Then consider the following questions:
1.   Does this proposal “fit” the area in terms of density and quality?
2.   Are the proposed uses needed and welcomed by the neighborhood?
3.   Is the developer experienced at these kinds of projects?
4.   Are your roads sufficient to handle the additional traffic?
5.   Is the tract subject to flooding or causing flooding downstream if developed?
6.   Pretend you own the property proposed for development. What feedback from the neighbors would be useful for you?

When you attend the meeting, listen to the owner/developer’s presentation and compare it to your thoughts about the questions above. Remember that this is a very early stage, and the developer should be able to give you general outlines, but may not yet have definitive answers because the proposal will be reviewed by several agencies (e.g., MSD and the Highway Department) who will make their own recommendations and changes. It is wise to circulate a mailing list at the meeting and supply a copy to your neighborhood association and the developer so that all interested parties can stay in touch with each other as needed. It is in your interest to thank the developer for meeting with you and to encourage further meetings after agency reviews and as the proposal firms up.


2)      Pre-application Plan - Whether or not the owner/developer chooses to have an initial meeting with neighbors, the next step will be to file a pre-application plan with Planning and Development Services. The purpose of this pre-application is to allow the developer to discuss his proposal with staff before the formal filing for rezoning. Staff will point out problems in the presented plans. The project proposal circulates to agencies and utilities for initial comment. Current policy is that the pre-application discussions are confidential, and you are not allowed to attend or review meeting notes or documents at this early stage. You can write or fax your comments, however, to the Planning Commission to make them aware of your concerns. Be sure to clearly identify early in the letter what project you are writing about to ensure your comments are included in the correct development file.

3)      Formal filing of rezoning application - Once the pre-application review has occurred and the agencies (Public Works and MSD) have preliminarily approved the proposal, the owner/developer may formally file for rezoning. A docket number will be assigned to the case. You should reference this number in further correspondence with the Planning Commission or staff. Once the application is filed, the matter becomes public record and you may obtain copies of all documents in the file for your further study. From this point, the procedure moves along fairly rapidly, so it is critical to review the file regularly for changes and additions. The file is available at Planning and Development Services, 531 Court Place, Suite 900, during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m., until 4:30 p.m.). Once the rezoning application is filed, Aldermen, County Commissioners and Planning Commissioners are not allowed to discuss the matter with the developer or you; but you can send copies of letters, petitions, and other information to their office where it will become part of the official record. Your neighborhood organization can register with Planning and Development Services to receive notice of all filings in your geographic area of interest.

4)      Site inspection - Planning and Development Services staff, along with some members of the Planning Commission, conducts a site inspection to assess the impact of the proposed development on the surrounding area. They evaluate the proposal in terms of its effect on roads and traffic patterns, whether it is compatible with the neighborhood, and its impact on natural and historical features in the area. The plan is also reviewed to determine if it is in compliance with the guidelines of the comprehensive plan, Cornerstone 2020.

5)      Land Development & Transportation (LD&T) review - The Land Development & Transportation Committee (LD&T) is a sub-committee of the Planning Commission whose function is to review filed plans for conformance with regulations, schedule public hearing dates, and make recommendations to the applicant about compliance with the comprehensive plan. If you generally accept the proposed rezoning but have not been able to reach agreement with the developer on details (landscaping, traffic patterns, number or placement of buildings), LD&T is the first place to make your case. The venue is informal and all interested parties simply go up to the committee table when the docket number is called.  The developer and Commission staff will discuss the proposal and you will then be given an opportunity to speak. It is strongly recommended that one or two people be selected to present your side of the situation. If you have no designated spokesperson, either everyone will try to speak at once, or everyone will wait for someone else to state the case. If the unresolved problem is serious enough, you may want to consider hiring a land-use attorney to speak for you at LD&T. Be sure the attorney knows what your budget is and exactly what you want to accomplish. LD&T has wide latitude and can schedule the public hearing, ask the developer to revise and resubmit the plan, require further studies, or recommend restrictions.

Any restrictions or modifications should be in the form of binding elements, which as the name implies, “bind” the developer to follow through.  Binding elements often deal with such issues as lighting, landscaping, hours of operation, etc. These binding elements can be deleted, changed, or added at any time in the process, so be sure they are a part of the case presented at the public hearing.

If you are totally opposed to the rezoning, you may want to make your case at LD&T but be aware that LD&T cannot recommend for or against a rezoning and will simply schedule the case for a public hearing before the full Planning Commission, where a recommendation will be made. You can petition for more than the standard allotted 10 minutes speaking time for opponents, or for an evening public hearing, at the LD&T review. The requirements are:


1.      Extended Presentation – A one (1) hour opposition presentation requires 25 signatures from property owners living within the affected Jefferson County district. Petitions for extension of hearing time limits must be submitted within seven (7) days of the LD&T meeting at which the public hearing date is set or confirmed. (PC Policy 7.09.02)

2.      5:30 p.m. Public Hearing – To have a public hearing held in the evening (5:30 p.m.), requires 200 signatures from Jefferson County property owners. Petitions must be received within 15 days of the scheduled hearing. (KRS 100.214)

3.      7 p.m. Public Hearing in Your District – To have a public hearing held in the evening in your neighborhood requires 500 signatures from property owners living within the affected Jefferson County district. Petitions must be submitted within 15 days of the scheduled hearing date. (Jefferson County Code of Ordinances, Title 15, Section 153.03).


LD&T generally meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month, in the Courtroom of the Old Jail Building, 514 W. Liberty Street, at 1 p.m. Though cases are docketed in a particular order, there is no way to predict when your docket number may come up during the meeting. Your spokesperson should stay in the room and be prepared to stay until the meeting concludes.

6)      The Public Hearing - If you and your group wish to oppose the rezoning application, the public hearing is the place to make your case. LD&T schedules a public hearing before the full Planning Commission, who then issues a recommendation. Notification of the public hearing is made in several ways:  hearing notices are sent to adjoining property owners 30 days prior to the hearing; signs are posted on the property 30 days prior to the hearing; and legal ads are placed in the newspaper not less than 7 days nor more than 21 days prior to the hearing. In addition, neighborhood groups that have registered with Planning & Development Services are notified 7 days prior to the LD&T meeting. Public hearings are normally held on the first and third Thursday of each month at the Old Jail Building, 514 W. Liberty, 1:00 p.m. Routinely the staff person assigned to the case has 5 minutes to outline the plan, the developer and supporters have 10 minutes to argue for it, and opponents have 10 minutes to argue against it. You will want to publicize the date and time of the public hearing throughout your neighborhood so that all interested parties can attend.


It often is helpful to hold a meeting in the neighborhood prior to the hearing to decide who is going to be spokesperson, what consultants will speak, what their order will be, what subjects must be covered, and to request letters be sent to the Commission. If you have decided to hire a land-use attorney, he or she should attend this meeting. You should also summarize your presentation to the Commission into written form and present it, along with any consultant reports and copies of petitions and letters, to each of the Commissioners at the hearing.


Before the hearing, all who wish to speak must register with the staff person usually seated outside the entrance to the hearing room. You will need the docket number for your case and can obtain a complete docket for the day from the staff person. This will give you some idea of when your case may be called. Be sure to advise the Commission staff, in advance, if you want to use slides or VCR tapes for your presentation. The public hearing is a more formal format than the LD&T review, but similarly staff will present the plan, the developer and/or attorney will argue for the plan, and the opposition and/or attorney will argue against. It is critical that your comments be factual and well organized, and based on Cornerstone 2020. You should have alternatives in mind and be prepared to respond quickly to questions or suggestions from the Planning Commission members. All information pertaining to this case that will be the basis for decision by the Planning Commission and legislative bodies, must come from the public hearing or be submitted prior to the public hearing, so be certain that all your points are submitted in writing at the hearing as they cannot be added later. The developer is allowed a rebuttal to your presentation at the hearing, but you do not have an additional opportunity to respond to his rebuttal.


After all testimony is heard, the Planning Commission will go into business session and vote to recommend approval or denial to the appropriate legislative body, continue the hearing to a later date, or defer action. When a hearing is continued to a later date, the Planning Commission will accept additional testimony. When action has been deferred, the case is placed on a subsequent docket under “business session” for deliberation, and no additional testimony is allowed.

7)      Legislative Body Action - Following the Planning Commission’s recommendation, the elected legislative body makes the decision to approve or deny the proposal. Legislative bodies with zoning authority in Jefferson County include Fiscal Court, the Board of Aldermen, and the following 2nd, 3rd, and 4th class cities: Anchorage, Douglass Hills, Graymoor-Devondale, Hurstbourne, Indian Hills, Jeffersontown, Lyndon, Middletown, Prospect, Shively, St. Regis Park, and St. Matthews. Again, you cannot discuss the issue with your elected representative. They are legally obligated to base their decision on the public hearing transcript and Planning Commission file.



The key points for citizens involved in the rezoning process are:


1)      Organize your neighborhood early and well

2)      Know the steps in the process, prepare for the next step

3)      Try to convince the developer to honor your neighborhood’s needs and desires

4)      Make a succinct, concise, organized case at LD&T and the public hearing

Docket Information

The Jefferson County web site includes dockets for the Planning Commission and Land Development & Transportation Committee meetings. The County web site is The dockets can be found at this site by accessing Departments, then Planning and Development Services, then Planning Commission. Click on the docket date, located under the heading Planning Dockets (in PDF format). These are usually posted the Friday before the following week’s meeting.


Zoning Enforcement

All property in Jefferson County is assigned a zoning district (such as R-4 Residential Single Family District) and is subject to regulations governing development and use of the land. Each zoning district has development regulations associated with it, which specify minimum lot and yard size, maximum building height, and other requirements for building use and location. Each zoning district also has a list of uses that are permitted in the district, such as homes and garages, apartments, churches, and parks. The Boards of Zoning Adjustment may also allow certain “conditional uses,” such as day care centers, hospitals and cemeteries, through the granting of conditional use permits. Specific regulations and uses for each zoning district are detailed in the Land Development Code.


Zoning Violations and Environmental Nuisance

Zoning Enforcement Officers (ZEO) are responsible for investigating alleged violations of these specific regulations and uses, as well as certain ordinances. Zoning violations typically involve uses that are not allowed in the particular zone (example, operating a business in an R-4 residential zone). For sites in unincorporated Jefferson County, complaints are normally called in to Planning and Development Services by a neighbor or elected official, or identified by a ZEO while performing field investigations. Complainant’s names are considered confidential and are only released under court order. If a violation is found, the property owner is notified of the problem and ordered to correct it. Some violations may be corrected immediately and result in no further action. Normally an order is issued, with 30 days to either correct the violation or appeal the order. If the violation is not corrected or appealed, then court action is initiated.


Environmental nuisance complaints (Jefferson County Code of Ordinances, Chapter 96) typically involve the accumulation of debris and rubbish or inoperable vehicles. If a violation is found, the property owner is notified of the problem and ordered to correct it. Orders allow a property owner 10 days to either correct the violation or appeal the order. If the violation is not corrected or appealed, then court action is initiated.

Binding Elements

Zoning Enforcement Officers also investigate suspected violations of binding elements.  Binding elements (or Conditions of Approval) are specific design details and restrictions that property owners agree to follow if their plan is approved. Binding elements are attached to rezonings and development plans, while Conditions of Approval are attached to major subdivisions and conditional use permits (CUP). These provisions run with the land; change in ownership of the property does not affect them. They are legally binding and enforceable parts of the approved plan. Building permits are issued only when the plan conforms to the binding elements. Typical binding elements include the following:

·        Woodland protection (permanent protection areas)

·        Landscaping

·        Tree preservation (temporary protection areas)

·        Sign size and location

·        Buffering or screening

·        Parking

·        Road improvements

·        Sidewalks

·        Size and height of structure

·        Site usage limitations

·        Outdoor lighting requirements



Reporting Violations

Neighbors report most violations of zoning regulations and binding elements. You are most familiar with your neighborhood and recognize when something seems inappropriate. In order to stay aware of proposals in your neighborhood, read your local newspapers for zoning notifications and actions. Be alert to construction or clearing and grading activities in your neighborhood. You should stay informed about projects in your neighborhood and what binding elements or conditions have been attached to them. You may obtain zoning information from Planning and Development Services (502-574-6230), located at 900 Fiscal Court Building.


If you observe what you believe are violations, please contact one of the following:


City of Louisville                                     Jefferson County (outside the city limits)

Zoning Enforcement Officer                     Zoning Enforcement Officer

Inspections, Permits & Licenses              Planning & Development Services

609 W. Jefferson Street                            900 Fiscal Court Building

(502) 574-3333                                         (502) 574-6230


Complainant’s names are considered confidential and are only released under court order.

Binding Element Ordinance

In 1998, Jefferson County adopted an ordinance to strengthen the enforcement of binding elements. Under this ordinance, binding element violations may be classified as a civil offense and the Planning Commission may issue remedial orders and impose civil fines.  An escalating system of notices, citations, and a hearing by the Planning Commission provides the means for correction. Originally, the ordinance only provided jurisdiction over unincorporated Jefferson County, but most of the other 14 legislative bodies with zoning powers have since adopted the ordinance (example, the City of Louisville, St. Matthews, Lyndon, et al). The ordinance has proven to be an effective tool in the enforcement process.


Binding Element Enforcement Process


1)      A warning notice is issued which allows 10 workdays for permanent correction of the violation or submission of an acceptable correction plan.

2)      If the violation is not corrected, a citation is issued. The citation allows 14 calendar days for the violator to respond by either paying a fine and correcting the violation, or requesting a hearing before the Planning Commission to contest the citation.

Failure to respond to the citation waives the violator’s right to a hearing, at which time the Planning Commission issues a final order upholding the citation and imposing the fine. Repeat violations of the same binding element will result in initial issuance of a citation instead of a notice.

3)      Hearings are held before the Planning Commission, which determines if a violation has been committed. The Commission issues a final order either dismissing the citation, or upholding the citation and ordering the violator to pay a fine (if applicable) and remedy the violation.

Remediation or correction of the violation is an important component of the ordinance. Failure to correct a violation can result in civil penalties up to $4,000 per day.


Zoning Enforcement Officer

The primary function of the Zoning Enforcement Officer is to maintain compliance of the Development Code established for Jefferson County, including the Code of Ordinances, Articles, Regulations, and Binding Elements of each zoning district. The enforcement of the Development Code is legislated by Chapter 100 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes. All zoning districts have mandated regulations. There may be changes made to some zoning districts by variances, conditional use permits, and/or requirements of additional restrictions (such as binding elements or special considerations). In any case, whether zoning changes or adjustments to a particular zone, all issues are governed by the Development Code to protect and preserve the quality of living intended.

The Zoning Officer may become involved in a case when there has been a violation of any Zoning District established Articles of Regulations or Agreements of Binding Elements.  Violations may include, but are not limited to, parking off street reference to the required yard; the number of vehicles allowed per the Zoning District Regulation; also, intrusive lighting by additional lighting by neighbor or adjoining commercial property. Untimely noises at various hours due to trash pickup of dumpsters or trucks running at all hours (violating established time periods) also are violations.

Duties include enforcing any or all of the following: the screening of properties to maintain continuity of established zoning district regulations, maintaining existing tree lines and buffers, installation of new trees, plants, berms, and fencing. Setbacks are monitored, as are property lines, for establishment of required front, rear, and side yards. Fences are monitored for type, location, and height; signs are regulated by type, size, and location. Examples of violations may all have varying circumstances and factors, but any case of an unusual, noticeable, or disturbing situation that may be considered to endanger the health and welfare of a community may be investigated. “Zoning” implies that the property’s zoning is being properly used and is in compliance of the Zoning District Regulations.

In some cases a police matter or another agency in the County that performs enforcement of regulations of health, code, air, etc., may be involved. If the violation under consideration is not a zoning officer’s function, they will direct you to the proper agency.

Development Code Violations are enforceable by fines up to one hundred dollars a day for violation of Articles, and up to four thousand dollars a day for non-compliance of Binding Elements. The Planning Commission or Fiscal Court may render other restrictions for non-compliance.


Board of Zoning Adjustment

Board of Zoning Adjustment (BOZA) was established by state statute (KRS Chapter 100) and is empowered to grant conditional use permits and dimensional variances from the zoning district regulations. Appeals to the Board may be made by any person or entity claiming that an official action or decision of any zoning enforcement official is in error.


What does BOZA do?

In a nutshell, BOZA administers applications for:


Conditional Use Permits for land uses that are exceptional and are permitted only after review and approval by BOZA. The uses may be approved only after certain specific conditions are met. Conditional Use Permits deal with land uses that are unusual, such as landfills, hospitals and airports, and more common uses that are allowed in specified zoning districts if certain conditions are met (day care, mini-warehouses, etc.). Only uses specifically listed as Conditional uses in the regulations may be authorized.


Variances in specific cases when strict enforcement of zoning regulations seems to deprive the citizen of reasonable capacity to use land in the same way as others in the same zone. Variances relate to such things as the placement of structures on a parcel of land where distances from the property lines do not meet the specific dimensional requirements (width of yards or height or structures) of the Regulations. The Board of Adjustment considers applications for variances to offer flexibility to the Regulations. If the variance is granted, the yard distances are allowed to be less than those required by the Zoning regulations.

Appeals (administrative review) made by persons who feel they have been harmed by an action, a decision or an alleged error in the enforcement of the Regulations by officials, for instance, a stop use order issued by a zoning inspector.


Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 100

Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 100 affects the board’s work in specific ways. It provides basic legislation for establishment of “planning units” (the Planning Commission in Louisville and Jefferson Count), and Board of Zoning Adjustment. It also deals with comprehensive planning, review of public facilities, zoning and other related land use issues and procedures. The following will tell how Chapter 100 is involved in administration of variances, appeals, and conditional use permits.



Each of the zoning districts has dimensional requirements that specify minimum front, side and rear yard distances and building heights.


Because these requirements are sometimes considered restrictive by property owners, the Board of Zoning Adjustment is assigned by Statute (100.241) to consider and grant dimensional variances, when appropriate, to offer the needed flexibility.


“100.241. Variances. The board shall have the power to hear and decide on applications for variances. The Board may impose any reasonable conditions or restrictions on any variance it decides to grant.”


In order to grant variances, the Board must make all of the following findings:


1)      The requested variances arises from special circumstances which do not generally apply to land in the general vicinity or in the same zone.


2)      The strict application of the provisions of the regulation would deprive the applicant of the reasonable use of the land or would create an unnecessary hardship on the applicant.


3)      Such special circumstances are not the result of actions of the applicant taken subsequent to the adoption of the zoning regulations.


4)      Reasons that the granting of the variance will not adversely affect the public health, safety or welfare, will not alter the essential character of general vicinity, will not cause a hazard or nuisance to the public, and will not allow an unreasonable circumvention of the requirements of the zoning regulations.


In addition, the Board must deny any request for a variance arising from circumstances that are the result of willful violations of the zoning regulations.

It should be noted that variances are dimensional variances. A variance may not be granted for uses that are not permitted by the zoning regulations for the zone in question, nor can it vary density (number of dwelling units per acre) requirements of a zone in question, nor can it vary any area requirement.


The variance granted applies to the property and improvements and not to the owner (it cannot be applied to another parcel of land). If the property is sold, the variance is still valid.


Conditional Use Permits

Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 100.111 Definitions states:


“(6) ‘Conditional use’ means a use which is essential to or would promote the public health, safety, or welfare in one or more zones, but which would impair the integrity and character of the zone in which it is located, or in adjoining zones, unless restrictions on location, size, extent, and character of performance are imposed in addition to those imposed in the zoning regulations.”


“(7) ‘Conditional use permits’ means legal authorization to undertake a conditional use, issued by the administrative official pursuant to authorization by the board of adjustment, consisting of two parties: a) A statement of factual determination by the board of adjustment which justifies the issuance of the permits and b) a statement of specific conditions which must be met in order for the use to be permitted.”

Uses that require conditional use permits include:

Airports and heliports

Aviaries and zoos

Camping areas, public and private

Cemeteries, mausoleums and crematories

Commercial lakes

Extraction and development of oil, gas and other hydrocarbon substances

Hospitals, institutions, nursing homes and homes for the infirmed and aged


Marinas and boat rental

Sewage disposal plants

Off-street parking (unless in a district that allows off-street parking)

The above uses are permitted in any zone when the Conditional Use Permit has been issued. Other uses require certain zones plus the permit. Complete lists and requirements are in Article 15 of the Zoning District Regulations.

Appeals or Administration Reviews

Administrative reviews are also called “appeals.” State law (Kentucky Revised Statute 100.257) gives the Board of Zoning Adjustment the “power to hear and decide cases where it is alleged by an applicant that there is error in any order, requirement, decision, grant or refusal made by an administrative official in enforcement of the zoning regulation. Such appeal shall be taken within thirty (30) days.”
Administrative officials who are charged with responsibility of enforcement of zoning regulations are inspectors employed by the Department of Inspections, Permits and Licenses in the City of Louisville and the Planning and Development Services Division of Jefferson County.


There are several kinds of actions that may lead to the filing of an appeal:


Cease and Desist or Stop Use Order
Zoning enforcement official upon inspection of a property determines that a land use activity is not in conformance with regulations and issues order to stop use. Owners may appeal the order.


Failure to issue Cease and Desist or Stop Use Order
Zoning enforcement finds no land use activity in violation. Complainants may appeal the official’s decision to withhold issuance of Stop Use.


Refusal to issue a building permit or Certificate of Occupancy
Officials determine that a proposed use is not in conformance with regulations. Owner may appeal.


Issuance of Building Permit or Certificate of Occupancy
Neighbors or others may oppose issuance of permits for land use activity perceived as a violation of Regulations and may appeal official’s action.


Non-Conforming Uses

Appeals are frequently based on nonconforming rights, commonly known as “grandfather” situations.


A nonconforming use refers to a land use activity that lawfully existed before adoption or amendment of the zoning regulations even though it does not conform to all the present regulations for the zone in which it is located. A nonconforming structure refers to a building, a sign or other structure that fails to conform to regulations but existed prior to adoption of the applicable regulations.


Kentucky Revised Statute 100.253 states that following:


“100.253 Existing nonconforming use, continuance; change”

”1) The lawful use of a building or premises, existing at the time of the adoption of any zoning Regulations affecting it may be continued, although such use does not conform to the provisions of such regulations, except as otherwise provided herein.

2) The board of adjustment shall not allow the enlargement or extension of a nonconforming use beyond the scope and area of its operation at the time of the regulation which makes its use nonconforming was adopted. Nor shall the board permit a change from one nonconforming use to another unless the new nonconforming use is in the same or a more restrictive classification…”


In addition, the Zoning District Regulations for Louisville and Jefferson County includes the following:


“…there shall be no increase in the floor area or in the land area devoted to a nonconforming activity.”


See Zoning District Regulations, Article 8, Section 8.3 for complete text of local regulations relating to nonconforming uses.


How BOZA operates

There are currently three boards in Jefferson County: one for the City of Graymoor-Devondale, one for the City of Louisville, and one for the balance of Jefferson County.

All business with the Graymoor-Devondale Board is conducted through that City. The other two Boards are served by the staff of the Jefferson County Planning and Development Services Division.



The boards for Louisville and for Jefferson County each meet twice a month, the first and third Mondays. Decisions are made in open business sessions following the public hearing. Other business of the Board is conducted at that time.



Dockets for public hearings are generally limited to six cases for each meeting. Cases are scheduled on a first-come first-serve basis. The time from application to decision may be as little as three weeks. If the Board defers action or a deadline has passed, there may be some delay.



Ten days prior to the appeal, legal ads are placed in the paper. At least 3 days, and generally 17 days prior to the hearing, signs are posted on the property.


Variances without Public Hearings

The Board of Zoning Adjustment passed a resolution in February 1982 allowing certain variances on single-family residential property to be considered without public hearings provided written consent is obtained from appropriate adjoining property owners filed with application. (Complete information is available at the Planning Development Services Division office.)


Board Members

Board members for these two boards are appointed for three-year staggered terms. There are seven members on the County Board, four are appointed by the County Judge and Fiscal Court and one each pointed by Mayors and Councils of Jeffersontown, Shively and St. Matthews. The Louisville Board of Zoning Adjustment has five members, all appointed by the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen. Members elect their own Chairman and Vice Chairman.

Hearing Procedures

Hearing procedures are designed to give the Board members needed information for making decisions. All hearings are recorded so that a legal record for each case may be kept, if needed.



The staff of the Division of Planning Development Services serves the Jefferson County and the City of Louisville Boards of Zoning Adjustment. Funding for operation of the Board’s activities come from the Division’s budget.


Guide to Standard Major Subdivisions

Major Subdivisions involve the process of dividing a parcel of land into lots, transportation facilities, and sometimes, open space—either for residential or commercial purposes.  The Metropolitan Subdivision Regulations, part of the Development Code, contain the complete information and requirements that must be followed.  Major subdivisions that also include a rezoning request must comply with all applicable regulations from both the Metropolitan Subdivision Regulations and the Development Code, but will follow the process for rezoning rather than the one stated here.


Standard Subdivision Process

There are six steps in the standard subdivision process:

1)      Meeting with owner/developer

2)      Formal filing of application

3)      Distribution

4)      Technical Review Committee (TRC) meeting

5)      Land Development & Transportation (LD&T) or Planning Commission review, if required

6)      Formal decision


1)      Meeting with owner/developer - As with rezonings, although an initial meeting with adjoining property owners and/or neighborhood groups is not required, it is strongly encouraged. Meetings between neighbors and developers prior to formal filing of the plan are beneficial to both parties, and can result in earlier identification of concerns, resolution of conflicts, and determine community support or opposition.


2)      Formal filing of application - Unlike rezonings, pre-application or preliminary approval stamps are not required for standard subdivisions. Developers are encouraged to meet informally with Planning, MSD, and Public Works to discuss their plans and identify potential problems prior to formally filing their applications. Once an application is filed, it becomes public record and all documents associated with the proposal are available for neighbors and community groups to review. When the application is filed and the fees are paid, the proposal is assigned a docket number. This docket number should be referenced in all correspondence concerning the development.

3)      Distribution - The approval process for standard subdivisions is relatively fast (average of 45-60 days); consequently, adjoining property owners are notified early in the process that a major subdivision is being proposed in their neighborhood. Neighborhood groups that have registered with Planning and Development Services are also included in the notification process. Notification occurs within 2 days after a subdivision plan is filed. You receive the plan at the same time as the reviewing agencies (MSD, Public Works, et al). Your notification letter provides information on who to contact concerning different aspects of the development, identifies the date of the Technical Review Committee meeting (and the LD&T meeting, if required), and solicits comments. You also receive a reduced copy of the plan.

It is expected that early neighbor/community involvement will result in earlier identification of concerns and resolving of conflicts prior to the final review of the project. Specific questions regarding drainage, sewers, roads or traffic, and type or style of building should be addressed to the person or agency identified in your notification letter. If you have additional questions or comments concerning a proposal, you may contact the case manager. You are encouraged to voice your support or opposition to the project, identify items of concern, and propose solutions.

4)      Technical Review Committee (TRC) Meeting - The TRC is an advisory body that reviews major subdivision preliminary plans. It identifies, negotiates and resolves technical issues and conflicting agency requirements. It is composed of members from the following agencies: Planning and Development Services, MSD, Public Works (city and county), City Department of Inspections, Permits and Licenses, Environmental Health & Protection, County Fire Protection Districts, Air Pollution Control District, Kentucky Department of Transportation, Historic Preservation, Metro Parks, public utilities, and other agencies as may be necessary.

Prior to the TRC meeting, the case manager is responsible for compiling comments on the plan received from other agencies, adjoining property owners, and neighborhood groups. These comments are reviewed and addressed during the formal TRC meeting.

TRC meetings are held monthly in the Metropolitan Sewer District Board Room, located at 700 West Liberty Street. You are invited to attend the TRC, along with the developer and engineer, to express your concerns or ask questions. Neighbors should organize themselves and be prepared to present common concerns and problems, as well as constructive solutions. Both developers and neighbors are given an opportunity to address the TRC, identify problems, ask questions, and suggest solutions. During the meeting the subdivision plan is formally reviewed, technical problems are resolved, waivers and revisions to the plan are identified, and conditions of approval are attached to the plan.

5)      Additional review - Plans requiring waivers from the regulations (example, not providing sidewalks) are automatically submitted to LD&T, and/or the Planning Commission, as appropriate. If you disagree with specific items of the plan agreed to by the TRC, you may petition LD&T for review. The developer is also free to petition LD&T for review on specific items. Petitioned items are automatically scheduled for the next LD&T meeting. Petitions must be filed within seven (7) calendar days of the TRC meeting, on forms available from Planning and Development Services. You are notified of the date for review by LD&T (notice is provided at the formal TRC meeting and in the original notice letter) and should attend the meeting to discuss the specific items you disagree with and present alternate solutions.


6)      Formal decision - The TRC reaches decisions by consensus, not majority vote. If matters are successfully negotiated at the TRC, the developer submits a revised plan that includes any changes. If the revised plan is in compliance, staff will approve the preliminary plan. All waivers and petitioned items must be resolved prior to the plan being approved. Approval is valid for one year (an additional one year extension may be requested).

An Introduction to Cornerstone 2020


The Impetus for a New Comprehensive Plan

Cornerstone 2020 represents the vision of Louisville and Jefferson County, brought into focus by hundreds of citizens whose labor over seven years has produced a plan for a more livable, attractive, mobile, efficient and environmentally sensitive community. Although we expect to grow by some 60,000 inhabitants during the next twenty years, our changing demographics and our healthy economy indicate that transformations will occur during the next two decades, which numbers alone will not reflect. Cornerstone 2020 is primarily about how to plan for these transformations with the goal of enhancing the quality of life in our community.


These seven years of dialogue have pointed us toward a new approach to planning for Louisville and Jefferson County. We aim to learn from the mistakes of the past, to think and plan more systemically with more attention to pattern and design.


The Development of the Cornerstone 2020 Comprehensive Plan

Work on the Cornerstone 2020 Comprehensive Plan began in July, 1993, when 200 citizens from diverse backgrounds came together for three days to discuss our strengths and weaknesses and to develop a shared vision of what Louisville and Jefferson County should be in the year 2020. Then in the fall of 1993 approximately 600 persons, working in twenty-five focus groups, sharpened the vision developed during this initial session. Their work led to the formation of four committees with approximately 50 members each, who worked on Mobility, Community Form, Livability, and Marketplace. The numerous and complex opportunities, challenges and problems identified by these Committees as proper subjects for planning, have made Cornerstone 2020 the most ambitious and far-reaching study of our community to date.


To address these identified challenges and opportunities, thirty projects were chosen for study to begin the work toward a new Comprehensive Plan and a series of ancillary plans, which complement the new Comprehensive Plan. Community residents volunteered thousands of hours to produce plans for the Ohio River Corridor, the Jefferson Memorial Forest, the Portland Wharf, parkways, open spaces, recreation, flood control, water quality, bicycle and pedestrian paths, the connections between people, jobs and housing and other specific areas of community life.


The one recurring theme throughout the visioning and committee processes was a focus on the creation of community — how to plan to bring people together in livable communities, each with a distinct sense of place. This abiding concern with community and a sense of place gave rise to the recognition of community forms and to the form district concept as a new paradigm for planning.

Cornerstone 2020 Statutory Requirements

The Cornerstone 2020 project studies, many of which stand on their own as important planning documents, constitute the initial statutorily required supporting documents for the new Comprehensive Plan. Kentucky Revised Statutes, Chapter 100 authorizes local governments to regulate the use and development of land only after the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan that establishes the goals and public policies.


KRS 100 provides for a method of development of the Comprehensive Plan.  This methodology prescribes that the Plan should be based upon research and analysis of the community including:


1)      The general distribution of past and present population and a forecast of the extent and character of future population;

2)      An economic survey and analysis of the major existing public and private business activities, and a forecast of future economic levels, including a forecast of anticipated necessary actions by the community to increase the quality of life of its current and future population through the encouragement of economic development, and;

3)      The nature, extent, adequacy and the needs of the community for the existing land and building use, transportation, and community facilities in terms of their general location, character and extent.


Table 1 of the Cornerstone 2020 Appendix lists supporting documents, prepared as part of the Cornerstone 2020 Plan development process, that satisfy the KRS 100 research and analysis requirements. All supporting documents are available in the office of Planning and Development Services.


In addition to the required research component, KRS 100 requires a Comprehensive Plan to include a Statement of Goals and Objectives and at least three Plan Elements: a Community Facilities Plan Element, a Transportation Element and a Land Use Element. Table 2 of the Appendix lists the KRS 100 requirements for comprehensive plans and these requirements are met by Cornerstone 2020. The statute contemplates that the legislative bodies adopt their Statements of Goals and Objectives first, and that the community, through its Planning Commission, then develop the Plan Elements in light of the Statement of Goals and Objectives. This statutory scheme was followed carefully in the Cornerstone 2020 process. After the completion of the research and analytical work, the Planning Commission, during 1996, drafted and submitted to Jefferson County (and the cities in Jefferson County with zoning authority) a Statement of Goals and Objectives for the new Comprehensive Plan. The thirteen legislative bodies in Jefferson County studied and adopted the Goals and Objectives during 1997. The Planning Commission then adopted the Goals and Objectives on February 19, 1998.


Plan Elements

The final phase of the adoption of a new Comprehensive Plan is the publication and adoption of the Plan Elements. These have been developed and drafted to implement the Goals and Objectives, and are also the product of an extensive public process. After a review of the original staff draft by a fifty member Initial Review Advisory Committee, (appointed by County Judge/Executive David L. Armstrong in August, 1998) a smaller committee (appointed by Planning Commission Chair Jack Dulworth) consisting of representatives of local government, developers, neighborhood interests, environmentalists, and assisted by Planning Commission staff, produced the draft Plan Elements. This document was considered at a Planning Commission public hearing on September 30, 1999. The Commission accepted a revised version of the Plan Elements and forwarded it to the legislative bodies for review and adoption. All thirteen legislative bodies with zoning powers adopted the Plan Elements. The Planning Commission officially adopted the Plan Elements on June 15, 2000. Cornerstone 2020 is in effect as the Comprehensive Plan for all of Jefferson County as of June 16, 2000.


The Cornerstone 2020 Comprehensive Plan contains the three statutorily required Plan Elements: namely Community Form/Land Use (Guidelines 1-5), Mobility/Transportation (Guidelines 7-9) and Community Facilities (Guidelines 14 and 15), as well as two additional Plan Elements, Marketplace (Guideline 6) and Livability/Environment (Guidelines 10-13). The fifteen Guidelines in the Plan Elements are to be used for the assessment of proposed amendments to the Zoning District Map, Land Development Code text and the Community Form Core Graphic. The Guidelines are to be regarded as fundamental planning statements. The Guidelines are intended to be read and applied in an interrelated manner, and in conjunction with the Goals and Objectives to determine whether a proposed land use change is in agreement with the Comprehensive Plan.


The Comprehensive Plan

This is the new Cornerstone 2020 Comprehensive Plan for the Jefferson County, Kentucky planning unit—including the cities of Louisville, Shively, St Matthews, Jeffersontown,
St. Regis Park, Hurstbourne, Lyndon, Prospect, Middletown, Anchorage, Graymoor-Devondale, Douglass Hills, Indian Hills, and the fifth and sixth class cities of Jefferson County, together with the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County who are collectively represented with respect to land issues by the Jefferson County Fiscal Court. For the sake of brevity, the term “Cornerstone 2020” will be used to refer to this plan. It is the officially adopted guide for actions and decisions on the use of land in Jefferson County.

Who developed Cornerstone 2020?

The Louisville and Jefferson County Planning Commission developed Cornerstone 2020, over a period of seven years with extensive research, public participation, study, consultation and debate among the several jurisdictions that are served by the Plan. Kentucky Revised Statutes, Chapter 100 authorizes creation of a planning commission with various responsibilities and authorities, the most fundamental of which is the drafting of a Comprehensive Plan. KRS 100 permits legislative bodies to adopt land use regulations but only if the community has first adopted a Comprehensive Plan, which states the goals and objectives and plan elements in furtherance, of which such regulations are necessary and proper.


How does Cornerstone 2020 differ from the 1979 Plan?

Cornerstone 2020 reflects the evolution that has occurred since the adoption of the 1979 Comprehensive Plan in the way that the community and the Planning Commission consider and review development proposals. Design compatibility in the context of preferred forms and patterns of development and the potential impacts of development on transportation systems and environmental resources have become increasingly important considerations during these past two decades. Cornerstone 2020 discussions among Planning Commissioners, elected officials, the development community and neighborhood and environmental activists during the past seven years have contributed to and hastened the pace of this change in the way this community has come to think about planning and development issues and has come to interpret the 1979 Plan. Some of the planning considerations which receive greater emphasis in Cornerstone 2020 are: (1) assuming appropriate design of proposed building(s) in the context of the pattern of surrounding development; (2) the compatibility of the proposed development with the community’s environmental goals; (3) assuring appropriate multi-modal means of access to the proposed development and proper assessment of the proposal for any adverse impact on the proper functioning of streets; and (4) providing for the re-development of deteriorating and neglected neighborhoods. Important planning principles of the 1979 Comprehensive Plan remain in the Cornerstone 2020 Plan, but in some cases may be applied in a somewhat different manner. For example, Cornerstone 2020, like the 1979 Plan, is concerned with protecting residential neighborhoods from the adverse effects of nearby development. Cornerstone 2020, however, broadens the means by which such protection may be afforded by encouraging greater emphasis on quality design. Functional, attractive and internally consistent patterns of development are considered, in addition to separation and buffering, as potential means to afford protection. Cornerstone 2020 recognizes that planning that is focused exclusively on the separation of uses often discourages creative forms of development. Cornerstone 2020 is more open to developments that offer a creative mix of different uses compatibly designed in compact centers. Cornerstone 2020 envisions a two-tiered approach to making the more sophisticated land development decisions.


What is the “Two Tiered Approach” in Cornerstone 2020?

Cornerstone 2020 presumes that the jurisdictions within the Jefferson County planning unit will continue to use existing zoning district designations, as appropriate. Zoning districts are authorized pursuant to KRS 100.201 and KRS 100.203. Permitted and conditional uses and density/intensity standards will continue to be attached to zoning districts.


Cornerstone 2020 includes the adoption of a second tier of districts, in addition to the zoning “use” districts, which are to be known as form districts. Form districts are used in conjunction with zoning “use” districts, and are also authorized by KRS 100.201 and KRS 100.203. Form districts contain a set of regulations which pertain to such matters as mass, scale, height, compatibility of structure design, orientation and building material, lot size and yard setback requirements, the compatibility of the proposed use or uses, and the pattern and rhythm of development in the context of existing and emerging development in the area.


Because form district regulations address different issues than those addressed by zoning districts, the two sets of regulations will not conflict with one another. Form district boundaries are independent of zoning district boundaries. The complete set of regulations applicable to a specified land parcel will be determined by locating the subject land parcel on a map or maps depicting the form district and zoning district boundaries and by applying the applicable form district and zoning district regulations contained in the Land Development Code.


The process to amend the Form District Map will be the same as that for amending the zoning district map. A proposed amendment of a form district boundary and of a zoning district may be considered at the same hearing.


What is the basic idea behind Form Districts in Cornerstone 2020?

Cornerstone 2020 form districts are tools that deal with compatibility issues. The operating principle is that disparate uses may be compatible if the uses are designed to be compatible with nearby uses and if they are arranged in a pattern that is recognized by the applicable form district. The legislative bodies will use Community Forms as an integral part of the planning process. Community Forms are functional, distinct, internally consistent land development patterns that are specifically characterized and described in Cornerstone 2020. The Plan recognizes and names eleven such Community Forms. Legislative bodies within the Planning Unit use these eleven Community Forms, and any forms that may subsequently be enacted, as planning tools in two ways:


1)      Cornerstone 2020 uses the description and characterization of Community Forms as planning tools to be applied by land use decision makers in the zoning map amendment process in the same manner as the principles and guidelines of the 1979 Comprehensive Plan have been used. The legislative body with zoning authority first determines the Community Form that applies to the proposed development using the Community Form Core Graphic to guide its determination. It will then ask, using the Goals, Objectives and Guidelines of Cornerstone 2020, whether the proposed development is compatible with the Community Form in which it would be located.

2)      Form Districts may be geographically mapped by the legislative bodies with distinct boundaries within which one of the development patterns described as a Community Form is evident or is considered to be desirable and practical for the future. Regulations are defined in the Land Development Code, which will guide development in each Form District consistent with the desired character of the Community Form.

How will the Zoning District Tier and the Form District Tier be used in site development decisions?

Form district regulations standards should include community design standards and site design standards. Community design standards pertain to the relationship of the proposed development to the form and pattern of existing development in the wider community context. This includes, for example, the relationship of the proposed use to nearby land uses and to the hierarchy of roads and rights of way in the community and to its impact on traffic and the relationship of the proposed structure to any nearby physical features, such as nearby parks or open spaces, the Ohio River and its tributaries and streams, or to the Jefferson Memorial Forest.


Site design standards pertain to the proposed development’s site and building design in the context of existing nearby development. These include, for example, an examination of the relationship of the use, mass, scale, height, and orientation of proposed buildings to that of existing nearby buildings. In addition, in defined circumstances, design and building materials may be considered. Other examples of site contextual issues include parking, right of way, traffic, lighting, and environmental impacts.


Guide to Small Area Plans

A major highway project is being constructed that will greatly increase accessibility of a rural area. Older homes on a major road are being purchased and rented, with the anticipation that they will be converted to non-residential uses. An older neighborhood is showing signs of disinvestments…


Changes such as these are typical of many places. Our cities and neighborhoods are constantly changing. Land use planning allows local government and citizens groups to be pro-active participants in the change process.


The Comprehensive Plan (or comp plan) is the basic land use-planning tool for Kentucky communities. According to KRS 100, a comprehensive plan serves as a guide to ensure the development of public and private property in the most appropriate relationships. One of the elements of a comp plan is a land use plan that shows proposals for the manner in which the community should use its public and private lands. Comp plans make recommendations for an entire jurisdiction, usually a county, or one or more cities.


But in some situations, it’s appropriate to do planning for less than an entire jurisdiction. As in examples mentioned above, communities often face localized problems and opportunities. A neighborhood plan, a corridor study, and a sub-area plan are examples of plans that can be prepared in response to area-specific issues.

It’s worth noting that small area plans are not a substitute for the comp plan but a supplement to it. As such, remember that recommendations must be based on the comprehensive plan and sound planning principles and are not just a community wish list.  A comprehensive plan is always required if communities wish to enact zoning and subdivision regulations. The purpose of a small area plan is to determine the pattern, type, and intensity of future development.  It may also provide transportation and design guidelines, as well as capital improvement recommendations. Small area plans are expressions of the community’s desires for future conditions. They are a policy statement and it is advisable to have them adopted as part of the comp plan.  As part of the comp plan, their relationship to development review items (example, rezoning and subdivisions) is more clearly defined. `Small area plans are a tool to ensure the community’s vision is the basis for land use decisions.


Small Area Plan Process and the Role of Neighborhood Groups

There are 4 steps in the small area plan process.

1)      Initiation

2)      Preparing the plan

3)      Adoption

4)      Implementation


1)      Initiation - If a small area plan seems like a good option for your community, it’s a good idea to communicate with other communities that have prepared one. Ask about their experience and gather suggestions. Consult with the Planning Commission, elected officials, and the planning staff. This process of communication will help you be clear about what you want to achieve, and what the issues are.

Neighborhood groups initially requested many of the small area plans created for Jefferson County. Government agencies, the Planning Commission or elected officials also may initiate the idea of preparing a plan. Regardless of who initiates the planning process, support from elected officials is needed. They will decide about funding and allocation of staff time; consultants or planning staff usually are needed to prepare the plan. Work with your elected officials so the plan will have support both in preparation and in the adoption process.

Once you’ve decided to do a plan, organize a task force or committee to provide information, attend meetings, and review and comment on drafts of the plan. Most small area plans require six months to a year to complete. This is a significant time commitment for the persons involved in the task force or committee; volunteers should be aware of this when they sign up to work on the project. Continuity of participants will make the process much easier. Make sure your task force is representative of the area—not only geographically, but also by major interests (land owners, business associations, churches and other large institutions).

2)      Preparing the Plan - The process of preparing the plan usually includes the following steps:


·        Identifying area strengths, weaknesses and issues to be resolved

·        Setting goals

·        Identifying alternative ways to meet the goals

·        Selecting recommendations

·        Determining resources available & actions needed to implement recommendations

·        Setting priorities for plan implementation

The main focus of the small area plan may be to provide “guiding principles.” These are primary concepts that would guide land use and transportation decisions and provide more specific guidance for making decisions concerning the area than is contained in the comprehensive plan. The plan should address what areas or uses to preserve, as well as what changes are desirable. An analysis of population, housing, and employment is important to determine and understand future development patterns and the impact of expected growth on public services and facilities.

The consultant or staff persons responsible for preparing the plan will conduct a land use analysis to identify existing, emerging, and future development trends and patterns. This analysis is important in determining the relationship between existing and future development and the availability of public facilities and services.

The following components are usually considered when preparing the plan:


·        Land ownership and development permit approval, size and configuration of parcels under common ownership in an area is a major determinant of development potential and location.

·        Existing zoning.

·        Analysis of the availability and capacity of existing public services (example, sanitary sewer service; potable water; police, fire and emergency services; public schools; stormwater management; parks and recreation; and historic resources.)

·        Analysis of existing and projected traffic volumes.

·        Other topics may be included as well, depending on the issues that led to preparation of the plan. For example, building setback and design, signage design, condition and occupancy of structures may be important components of the small area plan’s analysis and recommendations.

Neighborhood groups should work with the consultant or staff to involve the larger community at key points in the process (example, general public meetings, newsletters, coverage in the newspaper, etc.). Be involved in setting the goals and responding to the draft plan. The consultant and planning staff are the experts, but they are not as familiar with the area as residents. It is critical to the process for neighbors to provide information on their neighborhoods and what direction they envision for the neighborhood in the future.

3)      Adoption - Work with the Planning Commission and elected officials to get the plan adopted. The plan’s credibility depends on the neighbors’ effectiveness in communicating their support for the plan to the Commission and officials. Members of the committee or task force that worked on preparing the plan should help explain the plan to the larger community and seek their support for its adoption. Public meetings or hearings are normally held by the Planning Commission or elected officials as part of the adoption process. It’s important that neighborhood groups are active participants in those meetings. By organizing their presentations, they can use the available time to effectively communicate their suggestions on the plan’s content.

The Comprehensive Plan, as the basis for zoning changes and land use regulations, takes precedence unless small area plans are adopted as part of the comp plan. Work with the Planning Commission and elected officials to determine if the small area plan is best adopted as a freestanding document, or incorporated into the community’s comprehensive plan.

4)      Implementation - Be vigilant in reviewing development proposals in your area. Monitor private development for conformance with your area plan. Evaluate infrastructure plans and their impact on the area (example, transportation improvement plans, water and sewer line extensions). Work with elected officials as budgets are prepared, to ensure that the plan’s recommendations are considered when funding decisions are made.



Here are some final thoughts.

1)       Be clear on issues, expectations, and goals.

2)      Involve the Planning Commission and elected officials in the process.

3)      Keep community involvement at a high level.

4)      Use a collaborative process to identify land use, transportation and environmental issues; identify several alternatives for dealing with these issues.

5)      Stay involved throughout the entire process; drafting the plan is only the first step.

6)      Be alert for development proposals in your neighborhood.