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BALDWIN COUNTY COMMISSION PLANNING AND ZONING DEPARTMENT. Planning & Zoning Basics. For Baldwin County’s Growth and Development. Planning Director Wayne Dyess, AICP Baldwin County Association of Realtors November 16, 2006. What is Zoning? .

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planning zoning basics



Planning & Zoning Basics

For Baldwin County’s Growth and Development

Planning Director Wayne Dyess, AICP

Baldwin County Association of Realtors

November 16, 2006

what is zoning
What is Zoning?
  • Zoning is a system of land use regulation that governs the size, shape and types of activities that are allowed for lots and structures.
  • Zoning is based on local governments’ police power jurisdiction to control nuisances.
  • Zoning Ordinances standardize the use and development of property to make the most appropriate use of the land.
zoning s beginnings in the u s
Zoning’s Beginnings in the U.S.
  • Nation’s interest began in 1910’s.
  • New York City adopted the first city-wide zoning regulations in 1916, which became the framework for the rest of the nation to follow.
  • Landmark Supreme Court Case: Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co., 1926.

“A nuisance may be merely a right thing in the wrong place, like a pig in a parlor instead of a barnyard.”


Baldwin’s Beginnings

  • Alabama Legislature laid the foundation for zoning in the Code of Alabama 1975 with “Comprehensive Land-Use Management In Flood-Prone Areas.”
  • The Baldwin County Planning and Zoning Department was established in 1996 to oversee the county’s growth management activities.
  • Today,17 of the County’s 30 planning districts have voted to enact zoning.

Baldwin County Zoning Regulations

  • Designed to guide the area’s growth and development to protect the health, safety and welfare of its residents.
  • Two parts to the Regulations

1.) Zoning map defines the zoning district boundaries

2.) Textual ordinances are the actual zoning law.

  • Valid only within the unincorporated planning districts where a majority of qualified voters elected to institute County zoning.

Zoning Bodies

  • The four-member County Commission, each Commissioner is elected by a county-wide vote.
  • The Planning Commission is made up of no less than eight qualified voters living within the unincorporated areas of Baldwin County.
  • Each of the four Boards of Adjustment contain members appointed by the County Commission for those planning districts that have enacted zoning. The boards’ jurisdiction corresponds with the county commission districts.
  • A five-member Advisory Committee is appointed for each district by the County Commission.
the five steps to zoning a citizen driven process
The Five Steps to ZoningA Citizen-Driven Process

1.) Petition

2.) Vote

3.) Advisory Committee

4.) Planning Commission

5.) County Commission


1.) PETITION – At least 10 percent of the qualified voters living within the planning district must sign and submit a petition to the Baldwin County Commission showing their desire to enact County zoning ordinances. 2.) VOTE – The referendum is open to all eligible voters living in the planning district and a majority of the qualified voters participating in the zoning referendum must vote in favor of instituting County zoning. If a referendum fails, another referendum cannot be held for one year.


3.) ADVISORY COMMITTEE–The County Commission appoints the five-person committee for local input to create a zoning map and textual ordinances for their planning district.


4.) PLANNING COMMISSION –Will hold a public hearing on the proposed zoning map after the district’s Advisory Committee has completed a draft of the zoning map and textual regulations.

5.) COUNTY COMMISSION –Will hold a separate public hearing on the proposed zoning map before taking any action. Once the zoning map and textual ordinances have been adopted by the County Commission, zoning will be officially implemented in the district.


Zoning Ordinances At Work

Compliance and Change to Zoning Designations and Regulations

zoning compliance
Zoning Compliance
  • “Grandfathered” Development
    • Non-conforming use or structure is a legal violation of the zoning ordinances.
  • Zoning District Conditions
    • 25 different zoning districts throughout Baldwin County.
    • Property Owners’ Use By Right is a development allowed by the regulations with minimal review.
    • A Land Use Certificate must be obtained before the commencement of development or any building permit is issued.
zoning ordinance provisions
Zoning Ordinance Provisions
  • Special Exception - A land use, with a localized effect, not originally permitted in a district. Is dissimilar in nature, but a desired land use in that district. Requires approval from the district’s Board of Adjustment.
  • Conditional Use - A land use not originally permitted within a planning district, with a larger range of impact than a special exception. Requires approval from the Planning Commission.
  • Building and structural setback requirements
  • Lot dimensions
  • Building height
  • Open space
  • Parking requirements
  • A waiver from a certain requirement related to the property’s zoning designation.
  • Granted only if regulation enforcement will create an unnecessary hardship.
  • Standards for Approval
  • Exceptional narrowness, shallowness or shape
  • Exceptional topographic conditions
  • Preservation of a property right and not a convenience
  • Requires approval from the Board of Adjustment.
  • Standards for Approval
  • A change from the property’s current zoning classification, that is made as an amendment to the zoning district boundaries as delineated on the zoning map.
  • Change in conditions since the original zoning established.
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Conformity to Master Plan
  • Compatibility with surrounding property
  • Consistency with area development patterns
  • Limitations on rezoning all or part of the same land.
  • Planning Commission makes a recommendation to the County Commission for the final decision.
baldwin county s zoning future
Baldwin County’s Zoning Future
  • District 12 Zoning Finalized
  • Planning District 10 Advisory Committee
  • Comprehensive Planning Division
  • Baldwin County’s 10-Year Strategic Plan
for more information
For more information…
  • Newly updated Zoning Regulations
  • Updated Website:

  • Planning & Zoning and Subdivision LISTSERVs
  • Citizen’s Guide to Zoning and Supplemental Materials
  • Planning and Zoning Staff



Foley Satellite Office

201 East Section Street

Foley, AL 36535

(251) 972-8523

Main Office – Bay Minette

312 Courthouse Square, Suite 18

Bay Minette, AL 36507

(251) 580-1655

Fairhope Satellite Office

1100 Fairhope Avenue

Fairhope, AL 36532

(251) 990-4623