Frequently Asked Questions
 

WHAT IS ZONING?
Zoning is the way government controls the physical development of land and the kinds of uses to which each individual property may be put.  Zoning specifies the areas in which residential, industrial, commercial activities may take place.

 
WHAT ELSE DO ZONING LAWS REGULATE?

Besides restricting the uses of land, zoning laws regulate the density allowed on a property, the intensity of the use, number of parking spaces determined by the use, how parking spaces are surfaced, signage allowed, fencing, setback requirements, home occupations, and landscaping.

 
WHO CONTROLS ZONING?

In Lyon County there are two contacts.  The City of Emporia Zoning Office answers questions relating to properties within the Metropolitan Planning Area.  620-343-4266.  The Lyon County Office handles all other properties.  620-341-3471.

 
IS ZONING PERMANENT?

Zoning of a property is not set in stone.  A property owner may request a change to the zoning of their property.  There is a procedure involved.  State statute requires that a public hearing be held to hear comments from the community.  Statute requires notification of nearby property owners.  Do not assume that if your property is zoned residential that adjacent properties have the same zoning. 

 
HOW DO I FIND OUT HOW A PROPERTY IS ZONED?

You may call or stop by the Zoning Office located at 104 E. 5th Avenue.  You may also check out the online zoning map for the Metropolitan Planning Area by clicking here.

 
WHAT IS A VARIANCE?

A variance is a request to deviate from current zoning requirements.  If granted, it permits the owner to use his land in a way that is ordinarily not permitted by the ordinance.  It is not a change, but a waiver of a certain requirement. 

 
MAY I OPERATE A BUSINESS AT MY RESIDENCE? 

There are regulations limiting the kind of businesses that may operate out of a residential district.  They are designed to maintain the residential character of the neighborhood.  You may read the Section relating to Home Occupations for more specific information regarding prohibited operations.   If you live in a subdivision you may want to check out any restrictive covenants that apply to your property, as some subdivisions are more restrictive than local codes.  Basic restrictions for further information see: SECTION 20-10 HOME OCCUPATIONS

 
CAN ZONING LAWS PROHIBIT THE NUMBER OF UNRELATED PERSONS LIVING TOGETHER IN A SINGLE-FAMILY HOME?

In the Emporia-Lyon County Metropolitan Planning Area, no more than four unrelated persons may reside in a single-family residential district.  This is found in the definition for family in Article 2.

 
HOW MANY ANIMALS MAY I HAVE ON MY PROPERTY?

The regulations allow for three pets.  More than that qualifies as a kennel.  Kennels are only allowed in the Agricultural District as a Conditional Use and only when certain requirements are met.  The definition for a kennel is found in Article 2.

 
WHY CAN I NOT PARK MY CAR IN MY FRONT OR REAR YARD? 

 See: 22-305.  Surfacing

 
DO I NEED A FENCE PERMIT TO ERECT A FENCE?

A fence permit is not required to install a fence, however there are regulations limiting the height allowed on certain areas of your property.     SECTION 20-9  FENCES

 
CAN I CONVERT MY BASEMENT OR ROOM OVER MY GARAGE INTO AN APARTMENT?

If you live in a Single-Family District, you would be limited to one living unit.  If however, you reside in a Two-Family or Multiple-Family District, this might be allowed if your property meets square footage requirements.      See: SECTION 6-6 INTENSITY OF USE

 
WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATION FOR VIOLATING ZONING LAW?

See:SECTION 29-5   PENALTY

 
WHAT ARE PERMITTED USES?

Uses which are allowed outright in a particular zoning district.

 
WHAT ARE EXCEPTIONS?

Unlike variances or zoning changes, exceptions are built into a zoning category that permit certain uses within the category, without any further required proceedings.

 
WHAT IS A CONDITIONAL USE?

A use which is allowed in a particular district with permission.  Conditional Use Permits are justified after a public hearing and a finding that they fit with the goals of the community’s comprehensive plan

 
WHAT IS A NON-CONFORMING USE?

It is a legal violation of the current zoning ordinance because the use of the land existed before the ordinance was passed.  Nonconforming uses are often referred to as “grandfathered” uses. 

 
WHAT PROBLEMS DO NON-CONFORMING USES CREATE?

If your building is damaged or destroyed.

If you shut down the operation for a period greater than 12 months.

If you discontinue operations entirely.

If you significantly expand your operation.

If you substantially change the existing use of the business.

 
HOW DO I OPPOSE A REZONING REQUEST?

Attend the Planning Commission when the public hearing is held and state your objections.

 
HOW DO I CHALLENGE A PROPOSED REZONING CHANGE?

The rezoning request goes to the Planning Commission for a public hearing.  The Planning Commission makes a recommendation to the Governing Body.  There is a 14-day waiting period before that recommendation goes to the Governing Body.  These 14 days gives property owners a chance to file a protest petition. You may get the forms and filing information in the Emporia Zoning Office.

 
HOW DO I FIND MY PROPERTY PINS?

You may try to locate the pins yourself.  They will be at the corners of your property.  We have dimensions available to aid in your search.  If you are unable to locate the pins we encourage you to contact a surveyor to determine that for you.  It is important that you do not assume the sidewalk or the back of the curb is your property line. 

 
WHAT IS A SETBACK?

The distance between the building and the property line.  When deciding where to place a structure, there are minimum setbacks that must be followed.  If your structure is exactly at the setback, you will be required to provide an as built survey, which will increase the cost of your project.

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