Conditional Use Hearings

What is a conditional use?

For each zoning district, zoning ordinances identify uses that are permitted and uses that are conditional. Permitted uses are permitted by right and can be established if all zoning and other code requirements are met. Conditional uses can be allowed if specified conditions are met. (For example, a bed and breakfast establishment is a conditional use for a property zoned R-1, Single Family Residential District.) All conditional uses require review and approval by the Plan Commission.

How does the Plan Commission consider conditional use applications?

When considering conditional use applications, the Plan Commission functions like a court and must follow statutory requirements. In this situation, the Plan Commission does not have authority to amend or repeal any provision of an ordinance. Its job is to apply ordinances and appropriate legal standards to the facts of the proposal. The Plan Commission cannot legally approve an application unless it agrees that all code requirements are satisfactorily addressed.

The Plan Commission is required to make its decision based on substantial evidence within the following statutory definition: “‘Substantial evidence’ means facts and information, other than merely personal preferences or speculation, directly pertaining to the requirements and conditions an applicant must meet to obtain a conditional use permit and that reasonable persons would accept in support of a conclusion.”

A public hearing allows the Plan Commission to hear evidence from the applicant as well as members of the public.

How can I view conditional use applications and other meeting materials?

For conditional use applications, notice of a public hearing along with the application materials are posted on the News & Notices page of our website at least two weeks before the public hearing. Plan Commission agendas and all related meeting materials are available on our meeting portal, generally by the Friday before a Wednesday meeting.

What can I expect at a Plan Commission public hearing?

Public hearings for conditional uses take place as part of regular Plan Commission meetings. As such, the meeting will begin with routine business, like approving minutes of the previous meeting. The Plan Commission chair will then open the public hearing.

  1. The Zoning Administrator will read a report on the proposed conditional use outlining the zoning analysis and proposed conditions.
  2. The applicant will be invited to speak.
  3. Plan Commission members and staff will ask questions of the applicant.
  4. The Chair will call registered speakers to the podium one by one.
  5. The Plan Commission chair may invite the applicant to respond to questions and comments.
  6. When all speakers have been heard, the public hearing will be closed.

Once the hearing is closed, the Plan Commission will discuss the evidence. No new information may be entered into the record after the close of the hearing, so the public will not be allowed to speak. It is, however, a public meeting, so anyone is welcome to stay and listen to what is being said and to what decisions are made.

The applicant may agree to modify their application in response to comments by people appearing at the hearing or to the suggestions by the Plan Commission. The Commission will either approve the request, with or without conditions, or deny the request, or table the decision to a later date.

How can I speak at a public hearing?

Anyone wishing to speak during a public hearing should complete a registration form and turn it in to the Plan Commission secretary before the start of the meeting. Forms will be available at the entrance to the meeting room. During the hearing, the Plan Commission chair will call speakers up to the podium to speak in turn. As a speaker, you must state:

  • Your name and address
  • Whether you represent a group or association
  • Your qualifications to speak on this matter and the source of your information
  • Whether you oppose the proposal or are only providing information, and
  • Your concerns about the proposal and other pertinent information

We ask that speakers confine their testimony to facts related to the case at hand and avoid repeating the testimony of others. Each speaker will be limited to 3 minutes.

What protocols should I follow when speaking?

Please speak clearly and concisely, and direct all comments to the Plan Commission rather than to the audience. We ask that no one interrupts or interjects while another has the floor. Unruly behavior, such as booing or harassing remarks, is prohibited. Also please keep your comments directed to the application that is before the Plan Commission. In this forum, we are only interested in information that will help the Plan Commission to reach a decision.