Zoning, Special Exceptions & Variances

What is zoning?

Zoning is a tool that provides compatibility and predictability in land use and development and aims to protect public health, safety, and general welfare. Zoning categorizes a City into districts and establishes permitted land uses within each district. Zoning districts also specify how dense or intense each use may be (e.g, by specifying how big or small lots may be or how many homes are permitted per lot).

Consult the zoning map to determine the zoning of a specific property and the Unified Development Code (UDC) (PDF) to determine which land uses are permitted or prohibited in that type of zoning district.

What is a Variance?

Most Cities regulate the form that land uses may take (e.g., setbacks (how far a building must be from the property line) and maximum or minimum lot sizes and building heights). In certain cases, these standards simply cannot be met or create an undue hardship. For example, a property might have steep slopes or have large sections within the floodplain making it difficult or impossible to meet setback requirements. In these cases, the property owner may choose to apply for a variance from the zoning or subdivision regulations. If the variance is granted, the property owner would not be required to meet the specific regulation in question, but all other regulations would still apply.

Before a request may be heard, City staff must publish a notice in the newspaper, place a sign on the physical property, and send notices to other property owners with 200 (two hundred) feet of the property for which the variance is requested. Variances also require a public hearing (see below) to allow members of the public the opportunity to speak in favor of or against the variance request.

In making its decision, the controlling board (typically the BOA) may consider any and all information presented (by staff, the applicant, and the public) at the public hearing. Please note that the BOA is not permitted to consider financial issues when determining whether there is a hardship.

What is a Special Exception?

Kennedale's zoning code classifies permitted land uses by the following types: permitted by right; permitted with a conditional use permit; and permitted with a special exception. Uses permitted by right are allowed within a particular zoning district without additional permission from the City. For example, single-family homes are permitted by right in single-family zoning districts. Uses permitted by special exception require a review by the Board of Adjustment (BOA).

A special exception is a tool Cities use to consider a proposed land use on a case-by-case basis. For example, on some properties, an auto inspection station or tire repair shop would be compatible with surrounding uses and would not be considered a nuisance. In other cases, however, these uses would be unsuitable. 

Certain criteria must be met to receive a special exception. For example, the person or company applying for the special exception must be able to demonstrate that the proposed use won't endanger public health or impair the ability of a neighboring property owner to have the full use and enjoyment of his or her property.

Applying for a Zoning Change, Variance, or Special Exception

If you are interested in applying for a zoning change, variance, or special exception, email the Permits and Planning Department for more information about the hearing process (see below) and associated fees (PDF)

Public Hearing Process

When a request for a zoning change, variance, or special exception is received by the City, the appropriate board (BOA/BBA/P&Z) schedules a public hearing to consider the request:

  1. Staff outlines the case and typically makes a recommendation to the Board
  2. The applicant (person or company requesting the variance special exception) makes an argument in favor of the requested variance or special exception
  3. The Board opens the public hearing and receives comments from the public (whether in favor of or in opposition to) granting the special exception
  4. The applicant is allowed to respond to comments made during the public hearing
  5. Staff provides a closing summary and may respond to specific questions or comments made during the public hearing

Registering an Opinion Regarding Existing Request

If you would like to register an opinion in favor of or against a request for a zoning change, variance, or special exception, you may do so in two ways:

  1. Attend the public hearing and submit the provided form to the board secretary before the meeting begins; or
  2. Submit written comments prior to the public hearing by email, by mail, or in-person at City Hall (405 Municipal Drive).
  3. Submitted opinions and/or comments must be signed and include the submitter's name and address for the official record (minutes).

Questions About the Process or an Existing Case?

If you have a question about a pending zoning change, variance, or special exception request call 817-985-2130 email the Planning and Development department. To expedite a response, please include the (BOA/BBA/P&Z) case number or the property address in your request.