Skip to contentSkip to navigation

Info 211

How Do I...


Zoning and Codes

photo mosaic

Welcome to Douglas County, KS Zoning and Codes!  The Zoning office is currently a three member team who exclusively serve the unincorporated areas of Douglas County. Our goals are to primarily meet the evolving needs of Douglas County as well as incorporating the goals of the comprehensive and area plans, including the Food Policy Plan.  Zoning is a critical tool used to allow certain land uses in an organized manner, this includes transportation, infrastructure, floodplain, agricultural preservation and promotion, open space as well as other land uses.  We are passionate about educating the public while responding to an unprecedented number of general land use questions regarding land sales and property acquisition.  We work to quickly resolve property complaints, and collaborate with the building codes team as well as our Joint City/County Planning office on a wide range of items.  Zoning is enforced to protect property owners from negative impacts of certain types of land uses.  Properties which are used in a manner inconsistent with the applied zoning code can cause visual blight in the county, affect the floodplain and downstream neighbors, create drainage issues, safety hazards for traffic, and damage the natural environment.

In between the daily work that quickly fills our days we’re working on several big goals countywide:

  • Updating County area plans
  • Updating floodplain maps
  • Agricultural Preservation through a variety of land use options
  • Kicking off an Open Space Plan
  • Conditional Use, Site Plan and Home Business Reviews

All property research requests and general inquiries are handled through email. Please note: Phone calls and voicemail will be added to our queue and responded to in the order received. Our office receives a large amount of these requests and we work had to answer them in a timely manner. If your request requires extensive research, please expect delays. Please see below for the information we require to answer your questions. If you reside within city limits, please contact your local city officials.

  • Many properties in Unincorporated Douglas County are vacant lots. We require a Plate Number or address to locate the lot and begin researching. 
  • Public Property Viewer: use this to identify a vacant lots Plate Number, floodplain, zoning district, political township, and more. 
  • All Zoning inquiries are to be emailed to
  • On Thursday, February 23rd 2023, Douglas County Zoning and Codes staff and the Lawrence Board of REALTORS® hosted a lunch-and-learn event today for real estate professionals about land use in unincorporated Douglas County. Topics included: Plan 2040, temporary business uses, Board of Zoning Appeals, short-term rental regulation development, conditional use permits, rezones, GIS tools and floodplains. Presenters included representatives from Douglas County Zoning and Codes, Douglas County Public Works, Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Office, Rural Water District No. 5 and Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. A PDF copy of the presentation can be found here.

Linked below you’ll find our current list of text amendments in development and moving through the public review process. We recognize that you as a Douglas County resident have unique knowledge about the areas in which you live and work. Feedback from you helps steer the development of projects and future regulations by informing Commissioners, and staff of your interests, what you support, and what concerns you may have. Citizen input is critical and makes a profound difference by leading staff and your elected officials in identifying potential impacts and solutions. Your public comment is truly valued and can go a long way when it comes to land use decisions.

To submit effective comment:

  • Please review the project information and plans
  • Explain your interest in the project
  • Provide additional site or context information that you think is important
  • State your support and or concerns for aspects of the proposal
  • Provide your name, and address

Please note, if you provide comment, your information is not anonymous and may be used as public record.

We encourage the public to check in periodically and submit public comment to :

Douglas County Zoning and Land Use regulations were largely inspired by the Lawrence/Douglas County Comprehensive Plan, various Area Plans, and comment from the general public. Select a plan below to learn more. 

  • Plan 2040 (Comprehensive Plan): The Comprehensive Plan provides a vision and expresses a community’s desires about the future. It provides the foundation and framework for making future physical development and policy decisions. It is used as a policy guide that identifies the community’s goals for directing future land use decisions. The Plan also is used by property owners to identify where and how development should occur; by residents to understand what the city and county anticipates for future land uses within the community; and by the city, county and other public agencies to plan for future improvements to serve the growing population of the community
  • Transportation 2040: is the blueprint for our future transportation system. It is a vision for a healthy, safe, and efficient transportation system, which adequately serves Lawrence, Eudora, Baldwin City, Lecompton, and unincorporated areas of Douglas County.
  • Northeast Sector Plan (PDF): outlines specific land use goals, policies and recommendations for Northeast Lawrence and adjacent parts of unincorporated Douglas County.
  • West of K-10 Sector Plan (PDF): outlines plans for urban density growth in the area west of K-10 in Unincorporated Douglas County.
  • Food System Plan: The Douglas County Food System Plan provides strategic recommendations to help guide the development of the local food system in Douglas County, Kansas. It was adopted by Douglas County Board of Commissioners on June 28, 2017, and the Lawrence City Commission on July 11, 2017. The plan was created as part of the process to update the Lawrence-Douglas County Comprehensive Plan, and sets a framework for the next 10 years to guide policy changes by our local governments, to shape the work of the Douglas County Food Policy Council, and to inspire community actions and partnerships.

In 2020, Douglas County adopted new zoning regulations after decades of amending the original 1966 regulations. These updated regulations were largely inspired by Plan 2040, the Area Sector Plans, and input by members of the public.

  • Zoning and Land Use regulations (PDF): In 2020, Douglas County adopted new zoning regulations after decades of amending the original 1966 regulations. These updated regulations were largely inspired by Plan 2040, the Area Sector Plans, and input by members of the public.
  • Zoning Regulations Explained (PDF): Coming soon! Sometimes "new" can be scary or confusing, so we made a quick cheat sheet to explain whats inside the adopted regulations. 
  • Subdivision Regulations (PDF): Lawrence and Douglas County share the same Subdivision Regulations to ensure that land development is performed in a way that can more easily meet city standards when annexed.
  • Fireworks: For information regarding the sale, display, and use of fireworks in Douglas County.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (PDF): information regarding additional living quarters for farmhands, caretakers, and family members on the same parcel.
  • Permitted Use Table (PDF): View what uses are specifically allowed

The Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Department processes and presents applications to the Lawrence Planning Commission and the Douglas County Commissioners.  To get started you will need to contact and submit your application to the Planning & Development Services office at 1 Riverfront Plaza, Suite 320. Lawrence, KS  66044.  For questions and application submittal call (785)-832-7700 or email Planner of the Day.

  • Conditional Use Permits (CUPS) (PDF): A conditional use permit provides a public hearing process for the establishment of land uses which may be desired in the community but which, by the nature or scale of the use, have the potential to negatively impact surrounding land uses, the character of the area, the road network, or other features in the area. The conditional use permit process is intended to insure that the proposed uses are appropriate in the unincorporated portion of Douglas County; especially those land uses that are of a sensitive nature due to the intensity of the use or environmental impacts associated with the normal operation of the business or activity.
  • Rezoning :An amendment to the zoning map, rezoning, may be initiated by the Board of County Commissioners or the Planning Commission. An amendment to a specific property may be initiated by an application of the owner of the property affected. Any proposed amendment shall follow the process set forth in the zoning regulations.
  • Site PlanThe purpose of requiring site plan review and approval is to ensure compliance with the standards of these Regulations prior to the commencement of development activity and to ensure the compatible arrangement of buildings, off-street parking, lighting, landscaping, ingress and egress, and drainage in a manner that will promote safety and convenience for the public.

Douglas County is a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) administered by FEMA. Click the link below to view floodplain maps and obtain important information on how to protect your property.

The Board of Zoning Appeals is a quasi-judicial County Board that can approve, approve with conditions, or deny a variance request. All Board members are residents of Douglas County.

Home Businesses have been regulated in Unincorprated Douglas County since 2000 in an effort to minimize the unintended impact these business have on adjacent property owners. 


As an Agricultural County in an Agriculture based state, Douglas County is very supportive of Agritourism operations. Common agritourism uses include U-Pick's or Farm-to-Table operations. Simply having an operation in a rural setting such as a wedding venue is not considered agritourism.

Douglas County is seeking residents’ input about how open spaces could be preserved and used in ways that benefit the community into the future. Their input will be used to help establish a Douglas County Open Space Plan. The plan will be a broad policy guide toward prioritizing a range of ecosystems and land uses such as prairie, floodplain, agriculture, historic sites, trails and more.

The community can provide information by:

  • Completing a survey that can be found online at The questionnaire will take about 10 minutes to complete.
  • Calling a toll-free 24/7 hotline at 785-236-7415. They can leave a message with their open space ideas and hear stories from community residents.
  • Participating in a photo challenge. Residents can submit photos by uploading them through a link at Participants could win a $100 gift card and have their photo featured in the final plan.
  • Attending a meeting. The Open Space project team and advisory committee will host community engagement sessions on June 8 and June 9. They will be:
    • Thursday, June 8, 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. at Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St., Lawrence.
    • Friday, June 9, 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. at Lone Star Lake Community Building, 665 E. 665 Road, Lawrence.

The need for an Open Space Plan was identified in “Plan 2040: A Comprehensive Plan for Unincorporated Douglas County and the City of Lawrence,” which was adopted in 2019. The 2019 Charter in which Douglas County committed to the development of an Open Space plan outlined the following benefits of planning for such spaces:

  • promotes high quality of life and activates healthy lifestyles.
  • controls flooding and sustains stormwater management and resilience.
  • maintains rural character, including agriculture sectors.
  • enhances ecological integrity, preserves native landscapes and wildlife habitat.

For more information, please visit


The Douglas County Building Codes Department consists of 4 individuals that serve all areas of the Unincorporated Douglas County. We do not have any jurisdiction over properties within city limits. The Building Codes team reviews residential and commercial building plans, issues construction permits, and handles construction violations. 

  • For construction and code questions, please email
  • To schedule an inspection, please dial 785-331-1343.
  • GIS Quick Guide (PDF): use this guide to help you navigate the Public Property Viewer
  • Public Property Viewer: Use the property viewer to identify your rural water district, fire district, zoning district, political township, front setback and more!
  • Board of Building Code Appeals: The board makes recommendations concerning the adoptions of building codes and standards and hears appeals regarding administrative interpretations of the Code. Each board member is a licensed professional engineer or architect, building contractor, or a building superintendent of building construction.

Click to download the relevant permit application. If your name does not appear on the propertys' deed, please download and submit the Owner Authorization Form when you submit your application.

Building and Zoning Fee Schedule

  • Fee Schedule (PDF): View the fee schedule for various zoning and building permits. 

Additional Building Regulations and Documents

View the monthly issued building permit reports for 2023.

Department Contacts

Name Job Title Phone Number Email Address
Tonya Voigt Zoning and Codes Director 785-331-1344
Vacant Position Now Hiring Chief Building Official 785-331-1343
Dara Raney Administrative Codes Specialist 785-331-1343
Leo Ruhnke Administrative Zoning Specialist 785-331-1344
Ben Harris Code Enforcement Officer, Certified Floodplain Manager 785-331-1344
Karl Bauer County Planner 785-331-1344
Vacant Position Now Hiring Combination Building Inspector 785-331-1343
Tara Newman Combination Building Inspector 785-331-1343