The use of a property is regulated by the zoning code, the “Land Development Code.” This code also includes requirements for parking, landscaping, signage, as well as building sizes and locations.

Land Use, Basic Concepts

To help ensure a healthy and pleasant combination of land uses, zoning is used to regulate property use. The zoning code (Land Development Code) uses property designations like R4 and C1 to describe allowable uses on a specific property. These zoning designations, along with “Form Districts” describe allowable uses, housing density, and building size and location. You need to know both the zoning and form district designations for a property to understand how it can be developed.



Non-conforming rights

A use may exist on property that pre-dates current zoning code. This can be of benefit when redeveloping a property, such as a small commercial use in a residential zone. The use usually cannot be expanded but may be allowed to continue. This is further explained in Chapter 1 of the Land Development Code.



Land Development Code

There is a Metro wide code, but then there also a few different versions as adopted by “suburban cities” in Louisville Metro. Find them all here: louisvilleky.gov/government/planning-design/land-development-code




Permanent signage is regulated by the Land Development Code, Chapter 8. Allowable signage size is determined by use of property, form district, and size of the building.



Property Research

There are several very good online resources to research various aspects of properties in Louisville Metro. LOJIC (the Louisville/ Jefferson County Information Consortium) is a multi-agency effort to compile information geographically: http://lojic.org/main. This site includes a variety of maps including zoning and infrastructure to name a few. Another very good site is Louisville/Jefferson County PVA: https://jeffersonpva.ky.gov/ for property ownership, transfers, and value assessments.



Building Placement

The location of new buildings and additions is regulated by Chapter 5 of the Land Development Code. These are defined by "setbacks" and "yards" in terms of feet from front, side, and rear property lines. Generally, in urban areas a more dense pattern of development is encouraged, while in suburban areas yards and setbacks tend to be larger.




Parking is regulated by Chapter 9 of the Land Development Code. Generally the number of spaces is dictated by the type of use and the expected number of occupants. For example, a restaurant will require more parking spaces than a comparably sized office space. Urban areas have lower parking requirements than suburban areas, and there are reductions in the requirements based on proximity to mass transit (TARC) lines, re-use of historic buildings, and provision of bicycle parking. The Land Development Code and Department of Public Works also establishes standards for on street parking, curb cuts and roadway access, and onsite traffic design.




Landscaping is regulated by Chapter 10 of the Land Development Code from the primary aspects of screening around the perimeter of a property to landscaping within parking areas and promotion of tree protection and growth. Generally more intense uses (like commercial uses) often are required to provide screening when adjacent to less intense uses (like residential uses).



Required Approvals

Redevelopment projects often require some sort of approval, depending primarily on the type of work involved. Some project may require a simple building permit or sign permit. As projects become more complex - including new construction, additions, new uses, new parking - more approvals may be required. Additionally, depending on the type of regulation involved, a committee level review or public hearing may be required. It is highly recommended that a developer call Metro early in the planning stages to identify possible approvals that may be required.



Preservation Districts and Design Overlays

Various areas in Louisville Metro are designated for additional design review, including preservation districts such as Cherokee Triangle, Old Louisville, and Clifton. Other areas are designated as "Overlays" - such as Bardstown Road, Downtown, and NuLu. All these areas can be found here: https://louisvilleky.gov/government/planning-design/historic-preservation-urban-design. These districts are established to preserve historic structures and urban design character. Most reviews are quite simple, but some - like new construction or demolition - require more in depth review.


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