Planned Development Proposal Process

This page is intended to outline the development proposal process and make it clear for developers, community members, and anyone wanting to know more about it. 

What is a Planned Development? 

Planned Developments are special projects aimed at revitalizing neglected areas in the community and supporting unique types of development that regular zoning rules don't allow. They seek to enhance the city's appearance and economy by giving more flexibility in how sites are designed and developed, allowing for more creative land use and design options.

Planned developments allow for changes to specific land rules and other regulations. In return for this flexibility, they must uphold higher standards in site design and architecture compared to regular developments. These projects follow special procedures and need a public hearing, combining steps from zoning map changes and conditional use processes, along with extra requirements. Planned developments are initiated by property owner(s) or recommended by the Plan Commission for city-owned property. 

Flexible Development Standards 

The following variations from the development standards of the most comparable standard zoning district(s) may be provided with the approval of a planned development.

  • Land Use Requirements (17.16)  All land uses considered as "residential", "institutional", "commercial", "office", "light industrial", or "recreational" may be permitted within a planned development as specified in the general development plan and the precise implementation plan for the approved planned development.
  • Density and Intensity Requirements (17.20)  All requirements listed for residential density (number of dwelling units per acre) and nonresidential intensity (percentage of lot area compared to total floor area and impervious surface area) shall be as specified in the approved planned development.

  • Bulk Requirements (17.24)  All bulk requirements (building setback and height) shall be as specified in the approved planned development.

  • Landscaping Requirements (17.32)  All landscaping requirements shall be as specified in the approved planned development.

  • Parking and Loading Requirements (17.36)  All requirements for off-street parking, traffic circulation, and off-street loading shall be as specified in the approved planned development.

  • Other Development Requirements Imposed by Ordinance or Plan. Requirements of the land division ordinance, official map or other local regulations or plans shall be as specified in the approved planned development.

What are the Minimum Site Area Requirements? 

Central commercial district planned developments 

Infill planned developments* 

Residential planned developments 

Commercial and office planned developments 

Mixed use planned developments 

Industrial planned developments 

No minimum site area requirement 

1 acre (43,560 square feet) 

3 acres (130,680 square feet) 

3 acres (130,680 square feet) 

5 acres (217,800 square feet) 

10 acres (435,600 square feet) 


"Infill planned developments" are defined as new development or redevelopment projects that are proposed on scattered, vacant sites within already developed areas or neighborhoods.*

What is the Planned Development Process?

In the Planned Development process, there are four key stages that encompass various components, spanning from the submission of the initial request to the final approval or denial of a development. Let's break it down! 

This chart breaks down the process a proposal follows. To enlarge the photo, click directly on the graphic. 

planning proces Opens in new window

Step 1 - Pre-Application Process 

It is an internal discussion with staff only and elected officials are not yet notified. 

Step 2 - Concept Plan

The concept plan serves as an opportunity for the applicant to engage in informal discussions with the plan commission regarding a potential PD. There's no public hearing or mailing of notices to the public at this stage. Points discussed and conclusions drawn here are nonbinding and provide a basis for the next step.

The plan is reviewed by the committee of the whole in an advisory capacity. It contains general project themes, dwelling unit types, residential densities, treatment of natural features, and relationship to the comprehensive plan. It also outlines proposed development phasing and any requested variations from zoning or land division ordinance requirements.

Step 3 - General Development Plan

The proposed General Development Plan (GDP) undergoes a comprehensive review process, starting with submission to the plan commission, which includes a subsequent public hearing. The plan commission then offers a recommendation to the common council, which may grant approval, approval with conditions, or denial. Both the plan commission and common council have the option to table the GDP temporarily for additional information or issue clarification.

The procedures for GDP align with those for amendments to the official zoning map ("rezone"). Upon approval, the PD/GDP establishes the fundamental usage rights for the designated area, often referred to as "zoning entitlements."

GDP submission requirements mirror those for a Concept Plan but include additional elements:

  • Conceptual site drawing
  • Identification of recreational and open spaces, stormwater facilities, drainageways, floodplains, and areas reserved or dedicated for public use
  • Statistical data detailing lot sizes, density/intensity, floor area ratio, impervious surface area ratio, landscape surface area ratio, expected staging, and any additional plans as stipulated by the plan commission or common council
  • Maps featuring existing topography, public streets, sidewalks, and bicycle paths
  • General conceptual building elevations illustrating architectural themes, materials, and colors
  • Conceptual signage
  • A written description of requested variations from zoning district requirements, aiding the plan commission in assessing private versus public benefits derived from design flexibility.

Regarding public hearings, notices are mailed to property owners and registered addresses within 300 feet of the subject property boundaries at least 10 days before the hearing, ensuring community awareness and participation in the decision-making process.

Step 4 - Precise Implementation Plan (PIP)

The PIP undergoes a thorough review process guided by the standards outlined in Title 17 (Zoning), Title 16 (Subdivisions), and the previously approved PD/GDP. The plan commission is responsible for scrutinizing the PIP, and its recommendations form the basis for the common council's consideration and action on the submission. Importantly, no public hearing is conducted, and notices are not distributed to the public.

During the review, the plan commission is able to recommend approval, approval with conditions, or denial of the PIP. Additionally, the commission may choose to temporarily table the PIP to acquire more information or address issues directly related to the plan.

The PIP must include a written description demonstrating the complete alignment of the proposed plan with the approved PD/GDP, encompassing development phasing limitations as established in the GDP. The PIP submission includes precise engineered plans, final building architecture and floor plans, a landscaping plan, lighting plan, and detailed signage specifications.

A proposed PIP may include requested deviations from the requirements of the applicable PD/GDP zoning district, providing a mechanism for design flexibility within the established framework.