Development Review Process

The city’s current planning staff review and coordinate development applications.

The development review process begins with a pre-application conference between the applicant and staff, and concludes with a final recommendation from the Planning Commission or City Council.

Staff review includes the placement, type, intensity, and density of uses, access, traffic impacts, stormwater management, building design and landscaping.

The Unified Development Ordinance, the Comprehensive Plan and the design guidelines and standards are all tools used to ensure that proposed development meets the requirements and expectations of the city.

Planner of the Day

Types of Development Applications

The development pyramid illustrates how the various types of development applications considered by the Planning Commission and City Council relate to each other and to the building permit review process. Additional details about a development are required with each subsequent application.

Most developments begin at the bottom of the pyramid and work their way through all the stages in the pyramid before building permits are issued.


A rezoning is a request to change the zoning classification applicable to one or more specific lots or tracts.

Rezoning and special use permits are often the first permits approved and provide the base on which all other applications are reviewed.

Requests for planned zoning districts (distinguished by a “P” in the title, for example CP-2, Planned General Business District) must be accompanied by:

  • A site plan showing the proposed layout of the development, including building locations, parking lots, access, landscaping and buffering;
  • Civil drawings to indicate existing and proposed grades, drainage patterns and locations for detention and stormwater treatment facilities; and
  • Building architecture, which may be conceptual.

Requests for conventional zoning districts require only a legal description of the property requested for rezoning. Conventional rezonings typically are limited to single-family developments.

All rezoning applications require notice to surrounding property owners and a public hearing before the Planning Commission and the City Council. Recommendations from the Planning Commission will be forwarded to the City Council for final action.

Submittal of a protest petition may impact the voting requirements of the Council; however, all decisions by the City Council are final unless appealed to District Court.

Special Use Permits

Some uses, such as hotels, hospitals, airports or nursing homes, only are allowed by special use permit. This allows the proposal to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure it is compatible with surrounding uses.

Special use permit requests for new buildings, such as hospitals, hotels, cell towers, etc., require the submittal of site plans, civil plans and architecture, just as a rezoning request to a planned zoning district. Other requests, such as drinking establishments and other uses within an existing building, require only a legal description.

All special use permit applications require notice to surrounding property owners and a public hearing before the Planning Commission and the City Council. Recommendations from the Planning Commission will be forwarded to the City Council for final action.

Submittal of a protest petition may impact the voting requirements of the Council; however, all decisions by the Council are final unless appealed to District Court.

Preliminary Development Plans

Some development applications require the submittal of detailed plans identifying the nature of the development proposal. These include: requests for rezoning to a planned district, special use permits where a new building will be constructed and non-residential buildings in residential districts, such as churches, schools and subdivision pools.

These applications must be accompanied by:

  • A site plan showing the proposed layout of the development, including building locations, parking lots, access, landscaping and buffering
  • Civil drawings to indicate existing and proposed grades, drainage patterns and locations for detention and stormwater treatment facilities
  • Building architecture, which may be conceptual

Revised Preliminary Development Plans

Once a preliminary plan has been approved as part of a rezoning or special use permit, it may be modified. The extent of the changes will determine whether or not a new public hearing will be required to approve the revised plan.

If a revised plan meets any of the criteria for a substantial change, notice to surrounding property owners and a public hearing before the Planning Commission and City Council is required. Changes to an approved plan that are notsubstantial may be approved by the Planning Commission without a public hearing or notice to surrounding owners.

In the case of a preliminary development plan for a non-residential use in a residential district, such as a religious institution or school, public hearings are required before the Planning Commission.

Consideration of these applications by the City Council only is required if a valid protest petition is submitted.

Final Development Plans

While preliminary development plans include the general concept for the entire development, final development plans provide specific information about proposed construction and typically focus on one phase of the development.

As part of the final development plans, details of the site layout, including access, parking, landscaping and site grading, are finalized, and building architecture is established. Additional details, such as site lighting and signage, also may be reviewed.

Final development plans are reviewed against the approved preliminary development plan for consistency. Although some minor modifications may be allowed, substantial changes require a new preliminary plan to be filed.

The Planning Commission must approve final development plans prior to building permits being issued. No public hearing is required.

City Council approval only is required if the applicant appeals the Planning Commission decision, or if required by the Council as part of the rezoning or special use permits approval process.

Certificate of Conformity

A Certificate of Conformity is a specific type of final plan application for projects in Downtown Overland Park, which follow the downtown form based code.

These applications may be approved by staff unless deviations are required from the code.

Where there are deviations, notice to surrounding property owners and consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council is required.


Platting involves the subdivision of land into lots or tracts. A plat is recorded as a permanent legal document that includes both an accurate description and graphical depiction of any real property that is to be divided.

The intent of platting is to provide a readily accessible and easily understandable public record of property. Property must be platted before a building permit can be issued.

Platting ensures

  • Lots are arranged in a sensible pattern for the intended use.
  • Streets and public improvements are planned to serve the needs of each lot and surrounding properties.
  • Consistency between subdivisions.
  • An opportunity for public review and comment on the proposed plat layout.

Preliminary Plats

The preliminary plat dictates sizes and shapes of lots, the relationship between existing and future streets, location of proposed public improvements, and location of lands dedicated for public purposes.

Preliminary plats demonstrate the overall subdivision concept for an entire ownership tract, showing the general lot configuration, street layout and existing topography.

Preliminary plats require notification to surrounding property owners and a public hearing at the Planning Commission; they do not require City Council approval.

Final Plats

The final plat must conform to the approved preliminary plat. No public hearing is required.

If the plat contains public right-of-way (or other property that is proposed to be dedicated to the city) the application will be heard by the City Council for acceptance of the public lands.

Property owners and city officials will sign an approved version of the final plat drawing that will ultimately be recorded by the Johnson County Department of Records and Tax Administration.

Building Permits

Building permits begin the demolition or construction process and are generally considered after all required development approvals are obtained.

Development Review Criteria

The Unified Development Ordinance establishes criteria for review of development applications. Criteria for review are different depending on the type of application.

To learn about what criteria staff and the Planning Commission will use to review a particular application, open the accordion for each respective application type below.

Rezoning + Special Use Permits

Criteria include:

  • The current zoning and uses of nearby properties, and the character of the neighborhood.
  • The extent to which the proposed use would adversely affect the capacity or safety of that
    portion of the road network influenced by the use, or present parking problems in the vicinity
    of the property.
  • The extent to which utilities and services, including but not limited to, sewers, water service, police and fire protection, and parks and recreation facilities, are available and adequate to serve the proposed use.
  • The extent to which the proposed use would create excessive stormwater run-off, air
    pollution, water pollution, noise pollution or other environmental harm.
  • The ability of the applicant to satisfy any requirements applicable to the specific use imposed pursuant to the zoning district regulations or unified development ordinance.
  • The conformance of the proposed use to the comprehensive plan, the land use intensity
    system, and other adopted planning policies.
  • The recommendation of professional staff.
  • The length of time the property has been vacant as it is currently zoned.
  • Conformance to the Comprehensive Plan and other adopted planning policies.
  • Any gain to the public health, safety, and welfare due to the application denial, as compared to the hardship imposed on the landowner, if any, as a result of the application denial.

The Planning Commission and City Council may also consider other relevant factors.

Revised Preliminary Development Plans

When preliminary plans are approved as part of a rezoning or special use permit application, future
development must comply with the approved development plans for the property. While some minor modifications can be made, changes that are considered substantial require consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council at a public hearing.

Substantial changes include any of the following:

  • Increases in the density or intensity of residential uses of more than five percent.
  • Increases in the total floor area of all nonresidential buildings covered by the plan of more than ten percent.
  • Increases of lot coverage of more than five percent.
  • Increases in the height of any building of more than ten percent.
  • Changes of architectural style which will make the project less compatible with surrounding uses.
  • Changes in ownership patterns or stages of construction that will lead to a different development concept.
  • Changes in ownership patterns or stages of construction that will impose substantially greater loads on streets and other public facilities.
  • Decreases of any peripheral setback of more than five percent.
  • Decreases of areas devoted to open space of more than fi ve percent or the substantial relocation of such areas.
  • Changes of traffic circulation patterns that will affect traffic outside of the project boundaries.
  • Modification or removal of conditions or stipulations to the preliminary development plan approval.
  • For any development proposed in the RP-OE, RP-OS or PRN zoning districts, any change in the specified use or maintenance of any designated open space lands.
  • For any development proposed in the PRN zoning district, any changes in the type of dwelling units or style of dwelling units proposed to be constructed in a particular area or block.

Participating in the Development Review Process

Public hearings give residents and applicants an opportunity to address the Planning Commission and City Council prior to any decisions being made on the proposed development request.

All rezoning and special use permit and some preliminary plan requests require a public hearing. The Planning Commission agenda will indicate when a public hearing is required for an item.

Share your comments on a development by:

See Items Open For Public Comment

Speaking at a Public Hearing

When speaking at a public hearing, the following suggestions will help Planning Commissioners or City Council take your public comment into full consideration.

  • Familiarize yourself with the application by visiting with the planner assigned to the case, attending any
    scheduled neighborhood meetings and reading the staff comments.
  • Be familiar with the criteria used to make land use decisions. Present well-reasoned arguments based on these criteria. Decision makers can only consider relevant testimony.
  • Keep your comments clear and concise.
  • Avoid repeating comments made by others. Organize with others who have the same concerns and explain to the Planning Commission that one person speaks on behalf of your group.

In order to ensure that all interested parties have an opportunity to speak, the Chair person may limit the time for each speaker. If you represent a large group of residents or need other accommodations, please let the project’s case manager know in advance.

Council Chamber Technology

The City Council Chamber has technology for speakers with presentations. This technology includes:

  • A podium with touch-panel display and presentation annotation tools.
  • A Windows computer with all Microsoft Office applications installed.
  • High-speed internet access.
  • DVD, CD and VHS players.
  • An external card reader with hub that can read a wide range of storange devices including USB drives, compact flash cards, SD cards, and memory sticks.
  • An overhead projector with a document camera for letter size or smaller documents and objects.
  • A ceiling-mounted document camera used for the projection of large format plans
    or large objects.

Staff will be available during public meetings to assist you with presentation equipment. If you intend to use the available technology as part of your presentation, or need any special accommodations, please contact the project’s case manager in advance by calling 913-895-6217 or emailing

Protest Petitions

Property owners adjacent to proposed developments can file protest petitions for pending rezoning, preliminary plan, and special use permit applications requiring a public hearing.

Valid protest petitions impact the approval requirements for an application.

Valid Protest Petitions

A protest petition is valid if 20 percent of the land area within the notification ring is represented by the signatures of the property owners. Property owners signing the petition must:

  • Live within the notification ring, generally 200 feet from the boundary of the request.
  • Sign their full names as they appear on the deed to the property recorded in the Johnson County office of the Register of Deeds.
  • File the petition with the City Clerk’s Office by the end of business 14 days after the Planning Commission makes a final recommendation on the item.

For additional requirements, see the instructions included with the protest petition form.

Effects of Protest Petitions

Rezoning, Special Use Permits, Preliminary Development Plans, and Revised Preliminary Development Plans

If a valid protest petition is submitted for any of these applications, ten of 12 City Council members must approve the application during a City Council meeting.

Without the protest, only seven votes in favor of the application are required.

Preliminary Development Plans for Non-Residential Uses in a Residential District

These protest petitions are for buildings, schools, churches, and similar non-residential uses. Unless a valid protest petition is submitted for non-residential applications within a residential district, the action of the Planning Commission is final.

When a valid protest petition is filed, the application must be approved by seven of 12 City Council members.

Protest Petition Documents

Contact the Current Planning Division at 913-895-6217 for detailed information about the protest petition process.

You also may wish to contact a private attorney to ensure your petition is completed correctly.