Zoning is a vital piece of information for our clients during the initial site selection process. The zoning of a parcel determines the City’s current acceptable land use for that piece of property. This land use may or may not coincide with our client’s goals for the property, and zoning changes are never a “sure thing,” yet having advocates on your development team that are conversant with the zoning procedures, can speed up the process. The process of rezoning a piece of property is equal parts engineering and politics, so it is important to map out the process before you begin.
The First Step: Find Out Your Current Zoning and Assess Your Needs
Our clients often want to rezone a property in San Antonio when its current determined land use does not allow for their development. The City of San Antonio’s Westside Development Corporation (WDC) is usually our first stop in the process. The WDC will assess your project needs and perform a zoning analysis while simultaneously remaining in dialogue with the City’s Zoning staff. Go to the WDC before going to the City’s Development Services Department. To discover what the current zoning code is for your property, you can review the Cities digital maps here. After determining that a rezoning may be required it is important to consult your entitlements team, including; your engineer, architect, and possibly a land use attorney.
The Rezoning Process
Rezoning isn’t always a forgone conclusion within the city’s Unified Development Code, so it’s important to work with your entitlements team to review the code and possible zoning outcomes. You can find it online here. The administrative portion of rezoning is meticulous but straight forward, City forms and fee information are available here. The biggest administrative issues are typically caused when trying to bring the multiple planning documents from the City; design districts, or river and airport overlays, and neighborhood groups; neighborhood land use plans found here, into alignment. These may require further approvals from separate entities and can add significant time to the process. The City of San Antonio Zoning Commission and the City Council may have to hear the proposed change, as well as a public hearing for the residents and neighbors surrounding the property to have a say in the decision.
Community Engagement Is Key
It is important to engage the community and the City Council member in whose district your zoning change will fall. These items are often overlooked by entitlement teams, but it is a vital piece of the puzzle. Having early discussions with your future neighbors and City Council and Zoning Commission members will allow you to have preliminary agreement throughout the administrative process described above. If done right, this can greatly facilitate the approval process.
The rezoning fees depend on the size of the property, and payment is due at the time the application is submitted. While rezoning can be stressful at times, it’s important to prepare for the administrative and political challenges in advance to avoid pitfalls that will extend your development timelines or prevent your property from being developed. An experienced local civil engineer can help to coordinate your effort and introduce you to the necessary land use attorneys, City Council and Zoning Commission members, and prepare you for the necessary time and administrative effort that is required.
For more questions on rezoning, feel free to contact me directly at (210) 860-9224 or by email at Russell.Yeager@WGInc.com.