The primary purpose of the Planning & Zoning Department is to administer and enforce the City of Benson Zoning Regulations and the City of Benson General Development Plan through long-range planning. The Department guides public and private development through comprehensive planning, development policies and review standards in order to create and maintain a balanced community.
The Planning & Zoning Department, also known as P&Z, is responsible for implanting Benson’s General Development Plan (GDP) and processing amendments to the document. The GDP document describes how Benson wishes to direct and manage issues in areas such as Land Use, Circulation (Traffic), Open Space, Economic Development, Housing, Water Resources, Environmental Planning, Costs of Development and Known Growth Areas. The Mayor and City Council adopt the City’s General Development Plan and any subsequent amendments to it. Zoning Ordinances provide more detailed procedures and regulations which support the greater goals of the GDP. As with the General Development Plan document, Zoning Ordinances must be approved by Mayor and Council.
P&Z is also responsible for reviewing individual subdivision plats, commercial and residential site plans, rezoning applications and use permits. Planners approve proposals which meet the criteria as described in the General Development Plan and Zoning Regulations. Planners review items such as fencing, grading and drainage, building setbacks, available parking, signage and street lighting. If the Planning staff approves a project, it is sent to the Planning and Zoning Commission. If the Commission approves the plat, plan or application, it is sent to Mayor and Council for adoption. Only after adoption by Mayor and Council, can ground breaking occur.
Planning and Zoning works closely with the City Engineer and the Building Department as well as other city agencies such as Public Works and the Fire Department. This interaction ensures that any approvals given by the Planning Department do not conflict with the operational duties of other city departments. Cross department communication also ensures that building, fire and other life safety codes are followed and that decisions reflect the desires of Benson’s residents, providing them with a community in which they want to live, work and play.