Planning

Dan Vriendt, Director 
915 Quarrier Street, Suite 1 
Charleston, WV 25301 
P: (304) 348-8105 
F: (304) 348-8042

 

Hours of operation:
Monday thru Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed Saturday and Sunday

Vision

A healthy economy, a lively downtown, prosperous business centers and strong neighborhoods where citizens have a variety of lifestyle options and access to the resources they need.

Mission Statement

To steward Charleston?s Comprehensive Plan by creating and enforcing balanced development codes, engaging in economic and community development initiatives, and applying sustainable planning practices.

Staff

Lori Brannon - Neighborhood Planner - lori.brannon@cityofcharleston.org 
John Butterworth - Neighborhood Planner - john.butterworth@cityofcharleston.org 
Cathy Peal - Zoning Administrator - cathy.peal@cityofcharleston.org 
Brandie Thomas - Zoning Administrator - brandie.thomas@cityofcharleston.org
Mark Snuffer - Plan Review/Flood Plain - mark.snuffer@cityofcharleston.org 
Debbie Bsharah - Jr. Zoning Administrator - deborah.bsharah@cityofcharleston.org

Permit Reviews

The Planning Department staff reviews building permit applications to insure that proposed construction, remodeling and proposed businesses are in compliance with the Zoning Regulations of the City of Charleston. New structures are reviewed to determine compliance with setback requirements, height restrictions, parking requirements, landscaping, and general zoning requirements. Staff also reviews new and changes in business licenses, applications for review by the Historic Landmarks Commission for certificates of appropriateness, and minor work permits.

The Board of Zoning Appeals

The BZA hears cases dealing with variances of the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, appeals of decisions by the Municipal Planning Commission, and appeals of decisions by the Planning Director. Application forms are available by clicking on the Documents link or at the Planning Department. In addition to the application a site plan must be submitted as well as the appropriate fee and a list of property owners within 100 feet of the subject property. The application must be filed at least 35 days prior to the Board hearing date. The Board of Zoning Appeals meets the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The Board takes final action at each hearing. Decisions of the BZA may be appealed to the Circuit Court of Kanawha County for review.

Variances

A variance is a method by which a property owner receives permission to vary from the development standards established in the Zoning Ordinance governing such matters as building location, building dimensions, placement and quantity of parking, landscaping, signage, and other features included in site design. The Board of Zoning Appeals may grant a variance if and only if the following criteria can be satisfied:

  1. The variance, if granted, will not adversely affect the public health, safety and welfare or the rights of adjacent property owners or residents; and,
  2. The variance arises from special conditions or attributes which pertain to the property for which a variance is being sought and which were not created by the person or entity seeking the variance; and,
  3. The variance, if granted, would eliminate an unnecessary hardship and permit a reasonable use of the land; and,
  4. The variance, if granted, will allow the intent of the Zoning Ordinance to be observed and substantial justice done.

Conditional Use Permits

In some cases, community and Comprehensive Plan goals may be met by flexible and individual regulation of land uses within a zoning district. The Conditional Use Permit process provides such flexibility. Identified in the Land Use Table of the Zoning Ordinance, Conditional Uses are declared to possess characteristics of such unique and special form that each specific land use must be considered as an individual case. During this process, the Board of Zoning Appeals applies individualized judgment and imposes conditions on certain uses in order to ensure compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood and to prevent damage or detriment to people or property in the vicinity. The following general standards must be met in order for a Conditional Use Permit to be granted:

  1. The proposed use is compatible with the goals of the City of Charleston?s Comprehensive Plan.
  2. The proposed use is compatible with the appropriate and orderly development of the district and will not discourage the appropriate development of adjacent land and buildings.
  3. Neighborhood character and surrounding property values are reasonably safeguarded.
  4. Operations in connection with the use are not offensive, dangerous, destructive of property values or the environment, or detrimental to the public interest of the community.
  5. The character and appearance of the proposed use is in harmony with character and appearance of the surrounding neighborhood.

Municipal Planning Commission

Established by City Council, the duty of the Planning Commission is to promote the orderly development of Charleston. The Planning Commission is established in accordance with the Code of West Virginia, Chapter 8A, Article 2, as amended, with all the rights and responsibilities accorded therein. The Planning Commission serves in an advisory capacity to City Council and has certain regulatory powers over land planning. The Planning Commission hears cases involving rezoning, subdivisions, developments of significant impact, street dedications, street naming, street closings, annexations and is in charge of the development of the Comprehensive Plan and community revitalization plans. Applications for cases under the review of the Municipal Planning Commission are available by clicking on Documents.

Subdivisions

The division of a lot, tract, or parcel of land into two or more lots, tracts, or parcels, or other divisions of land for the purpose of sale, development or lease. In the City of Charleston this process is governed by the subdivision regulations adopted by the City Council. Three main types of subdivisions reviewed are Preliminary Plats, Final Plats, and Administrative Plats. Applications are available by clicking on Documents.

Rezoning

A request for rezoning of property shall be filed in a format prescribed by the Planning Department. The request shall include a list of the property owners' names and addresses located within 250 feet of the affected area, including the subject property, as of record in the Office of the Kanawha County Assessor. The applicant must also submit the tax map and parcel numbers for the list of properties. In order to defray, in part, the expenses connected with the application a filing fee in the amount of $125.00 shall be submitted with the application. For more information and a sample bill and petition click on Documents

  1. The Planning Department will conduct a formal review of the completed application. The Planning Department will publish a legal advertisement describing the request for rezoning in a local newspaper of general circulation at least fifteen (15) days prior to the scheduled public hearing before the Planning Commission. Notification to the property owners located within 250 feet of the affected property shall be mailed no later than ten (10) days prior to the public hearing.
  2. The Planning Director shall cause official zoning notification signs to be placed in a prominent location on the property notifying that an application for rezoning has been made.
  3. The Planning Commission will hold a duly scheduled public hearing on the rezoning request, prepare a report, and make a recommendation to Council.
  4. City Council will hear the case according to its rules and procedures.
  5. If the request for rezoning is approved by Council, the applicant shall receive approval and will be formally notified by mail by the Planning Department. The Planning Department shall amend the zoning map to reflect the approved rezoning.
  6. If the request for rezoning is denied by Council, the applicant is formally notified in writing by the Planning Department of the denial.
  7. Any person who feels aggrieved by an approval or denial of a rezoning may appeal the decision to Kanawha County Circuit Court within thirty (30) days of City Council?s decision.
  8. Following the approval of a rezoning, the City shall certify the zoning map and clearly identify any approved amendments with an effective date.
  9. If the request for the rezoning is denied by Council, the applicant shall not re-submit the same request for a period of one (1) year unless the Planning Director determines that there have been significant changes in conditions in the area proximate to the parcel in question. Documents.

Annexation

Annexation into the Corporate Limits of the City of Charleston must follow established guidelines of the Code of the State of West Virginia as follows:

  • ANNEXATION BY ELECTION
  • ANNEXATION WITHOUT ELECTION
  • ANNEXATION BY MINOR BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT

Street Dedications/Naming

Connection of subdivisions with city streets or sewers. Section 106-8 City Code. The streets, sidewalks and sewers of any subdivision of property in the city shall not connect in any way whatsoever with the streets, sidewalks or sewers of the city until the owner of such streets, sidewalks or sewers shall first have filed with the city engineer a map showing plainly the size, location, dimensions, material and connection of such streets, sidewalks or sewers and not then until the owner shall have first obtained the written approval and permission of the city engineer to do so; further, the city engineer shall not approve or grant such permission unless the streets, sidewalks or sewers are of the construction, material, size, dimensions and location as are called for by the city's requirements. Street Dedication/Naming Application Form.

Street/Alley Closing

SEC. 102-261. AUTHORITY TO CLOSE CITY STREET, ALLEY, LANE, ROAD OR OTHER PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY.

The council, pursuant to the authority granted it by the Charter and the Code of the state, reserves the right to permanently close, abandon and discontinue, for public use, any street, alley, lane, road or other public right-of-way presently owned by the city. (Bill No. 6949, ? 28-42, 4-7-2003)

SEC. 102-262. PROCEDURE.

Any person seeking to permanently close, abandon and discontinue a public street, alley, lane, road, or other public right-of-way, must file:

  • A petition, the form of which shall be available in the office of the planning department, which shall contain the following information and items:
    1. A current certified appraisal;
    2. A survey and map of the property requested to be closed which survey shall show the names of all adjacent property owners and a list of all property owners whose property is within 250 feet of property being closed;
    3. A metes and bounds description of property requested to be closed;
    4. A statement of reasons for closure which must include a benefit to the public;
    5. A statement of justification for closure. Such statement may include unique circumstances such as topography or slope limited access, or any-other physical characteristic;
    6. A statement as to whether the property requested to be closed is part of a pattern of current City of Charleston roadways;
    7. A statement as to whether encroachments exist to the property requested to be closed;
    8. A filing fee of $100.00;
    9. A bill prepared by or at the request of a member of the Council of the City of Charleston who has agreed to introduce the bill proposing closure; and
    10. If applicable, a request from non-profit or not-for profit entity for a determination of eligibility to receive the property by donation from the City of Charleston under the laws of West Virginia, the City of Charleston and all other applicable laws. If such a request is made, the city attorney shall make such a determination, but only upon full cooperation from the petitioner in providing all information and documentation requested by the city attorney in a timely manner. The city attorney will report his/her determination to the committee on finance and city council.
  • Upon receipt of the petition, the planning commission shall deliver one copy of such documents to the office of the city clerk for the assignment of a number to the bill. Thereafter, the bill will be introduced at the next council meeting for its first reading. At the time of the first reading of the bill in council, it shall be referred to the municipal planning commission for a public hearing, as prescribed by law. Prior to holding a public hearing, the planning commission shall notify all persons on the list supplied by the petitioner of the place, time and date of the hearing. This notice shall be given to all persons on the list 15 days prior to the public hearing. The planning commission may seek the opinion of the city attorney as to any legal issues concerning ownership of the property requested to be closed. After considering the evidence which may come before the planning commission, the planning commission shall report its recommendation to city council at the next council meeting. Such report shall include a determination whether the property is needed for public use or convenience and/or whether the closing and abandonment of the property will benefit the public.
  • Upon receipt of the planning commission's recommendation, city council shall refer the bill to the council's committee on planning for its consideration. After consideration of the bill, the council's committee on planning shall report back to city council with its recommendation for passage or rejection of the bill.
  • In any event, the mayor shall refer the bill to council's committee on finance with a recommendation of appropriate consideration based on the certified appraisal and that the applicant is qualified under this section for the vacating of the public street, alley, lane, road, or other right-of-way. The committee on finance may consider the appraisal submitted by the petitioner, other appraisals, the recommendations from the mayor and/or city manager as to value and other factors when assessing the appropriate consideration for the property requested to be closed. When the property requested to be closed is located in a residentially zoned district, the committee on finance may assess consideration in the amount of $1.00 per square foot to be paid by low to moderate income petitioners, as defined by United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), if satisfactory proof of such income is submitted (i.e. most recent federal income tax return).
  • After consideration of the bill by the council's committee on finance, it shall report its recommendations to council. Council shall then vote on the passage or rejection of the bill. Council's final action shall be a simple majority vote of the members present at a regular or special meeting
  • Any deed executed by the city pursuant to this section shall be limited to a quitclaim conveyance and shall reserve all necessary sewer and other utility easements. Sample Bill/Petition.

 

Historic Landmarks Commission

Appointed by City Council the Landmarks Commission was created to serve the public interest of the City of Charleston in engaging in a comprehensive program of historic preservation, undertaken at all levels of government, along with the private sector, to promote the use and preservation of such heritage for the education and general welfare of the people. The Charleston Historic Landmarks Commission consists of five members and shall be comprised as follows: an architect meeting the professional qualification standards published in the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR Part 61; a structural historian meeting the professional qualification standards published in the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR Part 61; a real estate broker; a member of City Council or a member of the Municipal Planning Commission; and an interested citizen or layperson. All members have a demonstrated interest, competence or knowledge in historic preservation and local history and, to the extent available in the community, shall be preservation-related professionals. Members who are not professionally qualified have demonstrated a vocational experience in preservation and associated disciplines. Members reside within the City of Charleston and represent diverse geographic areas of the City.

Neighborhood Conservation Districts

Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCD?s) are overlay zoning districts formed to recognize that older Charleston neighborhoods need to be conserved for their cultural, historic and housing values. Districts are intended to foster new construction that is compatible with the scale and physical character of the original buildings of the neighborhood and to promote the rehabilitation and maintenance of existing structures. The Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District encourages in-fill development that respects the existing built environment. Development in these districts should maintain or improve the general quality and appearance of neighborhoods, recognize the built environment as a major part of the City?s identity and positive image, and promote local architectural and cultural characteristics. Information about forming a district is available by clicking on "Zoning Ordinance" in documents and Review Section 19.

Community Associations

West Side Neighborhood Association

To obtain a list of scheduled meeting times and locations and other general information about the programs of the West Side Neighborhood Association contact secretary Rev. Ron Stoner atron@emmanuel-baptist.com.

Kanawha City Community Association

For information regarding the Kanawha City Community Association visit their web site athttp://kanawhacity.org/

East End Main Street Program

Founded in 2002, East End Main Street is a diverse group of volunteers dedicated to the promotion and preservation of one of Charleston's oldest and most diverse neighborhood. A program of the Charleston Area Alliance, a private, not-for-profit organization, East End Main Street believes that thriving businesses make vibrant neighborhoods. East End Main Street staff and volunteers work directly with neighborhood businesses, leading them from simple ideas to significant investments by using the National Main Street Center?s 4 Point Approach of Design, Organization, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring. For more information, contact Ric Cavender, East End Main Street Program Manager, at 304-340-4253 orrcavender@charlestoneastend.com

West Side Main Street Program

The West Side Main Street program was officially designated as a West Virginia Main Street Community in 2005. West Side Main Street is the largest Main Street Community in West Virginia. Partnered with West Virginia State University Extension, the West Side Main Street has as it?s primary focus the Washington Street West Business corridor that extends from Pennsylvania Avenue to Sissonville Drive. Using the National Main Street Center?s 4 Point Approach this volunteer driven grassroots program focuses on promotion and image of the business corridor, providing assistance to established anchor businesses and filling storefronts with new businesses. New volunteers are invited to work with the program?s Promotions, Design, Economic Restructuring or Organization Committees by contacting the West Side Main Street Program Director, Pat McGill at 304-720-3161 or email todirector@westsidemainstreet.org. Additional information is available on the web athttp://westsidemainstreet.org

Bridge Road Neighborhood Association

For information regarding the Bridge Road Neighborhood Association visit their web site athttp://www.brna.homestead.com

For additional information, questions or comments, please contact the Charleston Planning Department via email to planning@cityofcharleston.org.