How to Apply for Development Applications
This is a brief tutorial on the processes for applying for zoning and development applications such as annexation, zoning, master development plan, plats and site plans. These processes can seem complicated and daunting but using this guide and it’s helpful tips will simplify the process and set you up for the best experience.
There are three general types of applications, zoning, development, and informational.
Informational applications, such as Zoning Verification Letters and Certificates of determination are very simple and only require that you submit an application (with supporting documents as needed) along with the applicable fee. These informational request applications generally do not have additional forms or exhibits that need to be submitted.
Zoning applications, such as specific use permits, rezoning, comprehensive land use plan amendments and annexations, are all discretionary items that are ultimately heard and decided upon by City Council. These applications all require an application with prepared technical exhibits and other required supporting documents, along with the applicable fee. These processes typically take several weeks to months based on the complexity of the request. Required legal notice and public hearings also can add several weeks to the application timeline.
Development applications, such as master development plans, plats and site plans, have the most steps in the process and are generally the most technical to prepare and review. All development applications have a prerequisite for Letters of Certification from various departments including Planning, Fire, Engineering, Public Works and occasionally Parks& Recreation (if public parks are proposed). During this certification process, the technical exhibits are reviewed and comments are issued by staff. The applicant will then make any necessary corrections and resubmit. It is encouraged that you resubmit to all required departments at the same time (even ones you have already received a certification from), and only after you have received comments from all departments. Requests for certifications and certification resubmittals may be submitted at anytime.
After you have received certifications from all departments you may file the related development application for master development plan, plat or site plan. These applications may only be submitted/resubmitted on certain days which are identified on the submittal/resubmittal calendar. These dates correspond to Planning and Zoning Commission meeting dates to ensure the application can be heard within the legal deadline.
Below are flow charts with staff review timelines to help illustrate each development application process.
Helpful Tips for submitting applications and certification requests:
- Make sure your application is complete. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. The best way to manage your project is to make sure you submit a complete application and as required, a complete resubmittal. Remember if you have questions about any of the applications or checklist items, give us a call we are here to assist you.
- Request a pre-development meeting. Prior to submitting zoning or development applications, we encourage all applicants to contact staff and schedule a comprehensive pre-development meeting with all reviewing departments. This meeting generally consists of representatives from all reviewing departments and provides an opportunity for City Staff to provide a cursory review and identify most of the critical items that will need revision, shaving weeks off the initial review. This meeting is free of charge and can generally be scheduled within 7 business days of the request.
- Prepare all technical exhibits in accordance with the City of Schertz codes and the technical checklists. Unfortunately, more often than not, applications and technical exhibits are not prepared in accordance with the technical checklist and local development codes. This results in a much longer staff review and a lot of comments, which can significantly alter project layout and lead to costly or challenging redesigns. It is always a good idea to have someone proofreading your exhibits and applications to make sure all items have been addressed.
- Submit all Letter of Certification requests and resubmittals at the same time. In order to ensure that each certifying department certifies the same exhibits, you should submit all required certification requests at the same time. Then wait for comments from all departments prior to finalizing revisions and resubmitting exhibits. This will ensure that what is resubmitted is identical across all departments, preventing the unpleasant situation of trying to apply for a development application with certifications that are not identical. It is a good practice to resubmit any changes in exhibits to all departments, even if they have already issued a certification. This re-certification will help ensure that all certifications issued are for the exact same application and exhibits.
- Pay attention to submittal and resubmittal deadlines for Development Applications. Because of specific legal timelines relating to processing and acting on master development plans, plats, and site plans, we require submittals and resubmittals to be submitted on specific dates that correspond to Planning & Zoning Commission meeting times. We will not accept master development plans, plats, and site plans outside of these submittal dates. These submittal deadline calendars do not apply to Letter of Certification requests.
- Ask questions, lots of questions. We do not expect every developer, engineer, architect or design professional to be an expert on local regulations, so do not be afraid to give us a call or send us an email with any questions or concerns that you have. We are experts on Schertz local codes and it is our job and mission to help guide you through the development process.
- Start the process early and be realistic about your project timelines. It is our goal at the City to get you through the development process as quickly as possible, we process work on a first submitted, first served basis. Development review can be lengthy if applications and exhibits are not properly prepared and require multiple review cycles, adding weeks and months to a project. Be realistic in your expectations; if you turn in a poorly prepared application expect it to take significantly longer than the quoted time frame. If you turn in a well-prepared application where you have followed the above tips, expect your application to take as long as the quoted time frame.