Zoning

Zoning and Codes

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Contact: Zoning and Codes

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Zoning

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.

Our Goals

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

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.

Zoning and Subdivision Regulations

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.

  • Chapter 12: 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

Proposed Text Amendments

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 : planning@douglascountyks.org

Zoning Permits and Fees

Procedures for Granting: Applicant pays $100.00, non refundable application fee to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). Legal Publication of Meeting in the Lawrence Journal-World and property owners within 1,000 feet are notified.  Applicant should contact the Zoning Department for information on how to apply for a variance.  The BZA members meet once a month. For information regarding upcoming meeting dates, please contact County Planner and BZA Staff Liason Karl Bauer at kbauer@douglascountyks.org or at 785-331-1347.

Procedures for Granting: Applicant pays $100.00, non refundable application fee to go before the Board of Building Code Appeals. Legal Publication of Meeting in the Lawrence Journal-World and property owners within 1,000 feet are notified.

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 (Ph:  785-831-3150).  For questions and application submittal call (785)-832-7700 or email Planner of the Day.   The application form can be found here.

Downloads: A complete list of Building Permit downloads can be found on the Building Codes page.

Procedures for Granting: Applicant submits completed application, two sets of house plans, site plan, copy of recorded deed, health department approval, and entrance approval.

Download: Fireworks Permit Requirements (Vendors) (PDF format)

Procedures for Granting: Applicant applies for Firework Permit. Applicant must submit site plan and copy of tax identification and pay $100 Permit Fee.

Download: Floodplain Development Permit (PDF format)

Procedures for Granting: Applicant applies for permit which states the required elevation and has a land surveyor or licensed engineer document that the lowest floor, including basement, is elevated one (1) foot above regulatory flood elevation.

Procedures for Granting: All Home Business Owners will register their business annually. Site inspection will be made on Type II locations. Renewals will be made annually, according to location in various Townships. Fees are according to type of business and number of employees. Upon completion of inspection, Home Occupation Registration certificate will be issued. Click this link for the Home Business Application Form.

Douglas County Sign Code 12-314, includes detailed information regarding permitting requirements, inspections, sign regulations per zoning district, prohibited signs, temporary signs, setback standards and more. 

Click this link for the Douglas County Sign Code.

In order to apply for a sign please follow the link below, fill out the form and gather all related documents and email them to zoning@douglascountyks.org   You can also drop them off or mail them to 3755 E 25th St, Lawrence, KS 66046

Click this link for sign permit procedures and a fillable sign application form

Download: Special Events Permit (S.E.P.) (PDF format)

Procedures for Granting: Applicant applies for a special use permit for conducting short-term events on private property within the unincorporated area of Douglas County. There is a fee of $100.00.

Download: Temporary Business Use Permits (T.B.U.) (PDF format)

Procedures for Granting: Application filled out and $100.00 application fee to go before County Commissioners for approval of Temporary Business Use.

Property Search Requests

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 zoning@douglascountyks.org