Louisville Metro releases first set of recommendations for Land Development Code reform

February 04, 2021

Louisville Metro Office of Planning and Design Services today introduced its initial recommended changes to the Land Development Code to the Planning Commission, the next step in a multi-year process to identify and correct inequitable land use regulations and policies within the code.

A series of virtual public meetings were held in October and December 2020 that aimed to gather feedback and educate residents about the Land Development Code, a set of regulations that dictates what can be developed on private property. Planning and Design Services also has launched a dedicated phone line where residents can reach a staff member to provide their feedback and ask questions about the Land Development Code reform efforts.

“These initial recommendations are the culmination of years of work by our Planning and Design Services staff to understand the historical inequities built into cities’ land use policies and to identify reforms within Louisville’s Land Development Code, a process that has included input from residents, outside experts and local leaders,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “While these inequities were not created by us, it is our responsibility to correct them. As with our many efforts to improve racial equity throughout our Metro systems, this work will take years, but we are committed to our mission to make Louisville a better, more equitable city.”

The Planning Commission is expected to review the initial recommendations and host a public hearing in early spring.

The initial recommendations include:

  • Requiring notices be mailed to residents, as well as property owners, so residents, including renters, are better informed about potential development that could impact them;
  • Revising current zoning requirements to reduce obstacles to creating market gardens, community gardens and similar uses;
  • Allowing applications to build accessory dwelling units, including an accessory apartment, to be reviewed by Planning and Design Services staff rather than requiring them to go through the lengthier conditional use permit process;
  • Permitting duplexes outright on properties that are zoned multi-family (R-5A, R-5B, R-6, R-7, R-8A) to increase housing options and affordability; and
  • Other measures that aim to reduce barriers to housing affordability and to increase housing choices.

To learn more about the Land Development Code reform process and see additional recommendations, visit www.louisvilleky.gov/government/planning-design/ldc-reform-recommendations

The Planning Commission will host public hearings and make recommendations regarding the new regulations to Metro Council and small cities with zoning authority. Metro Council’s approval is required before any of the reforms can be implemented. Suburban cities with zoning authority – Anchorage, Douglass Hills, Graymoor-Devondale, Hurstbourne, Indian Hills, Jeffersontown, Lyndon, Middletown, Prospect, Shively, St. Matthews and St. Regis Park – must independently adopt the changes.

Following a review of the initial recommendations, Planning and Design Services staff will move forward with additional proposed reforms. Those will take anywhere from one to more than two years to go through the public input and approval process, and others may be added to the list following more community conversations and study.

“Given the key role that the Land Development Code plays in dictating how our city is developed, it is critical that its rules and regulations promote equitable and inclusive development for all Louisvillians, no matter their race, age or income level. I am excited to hear about the proposed recommendations and begin the work of removing outdated and inequitable policies from our books,” said Metro Council President David James.

Louisville Metro Council and the Planning Commission announced the full-scale equity review of the Land Development Code in July 2020. The review follows two years of groundwork laid by Plan 2040, the new comprehensive plan; the Housing Needs Assessment, which quantified the need for more affordable housing; the Land Development Code Diagnosis, a deep dive review into local housing regulations; and Advancing Equity, a report that identified development policies and practices that exacerbate inequity.

For a history of the Land Development Code in Louisville and the racist history of land use regulations, visit www.louisvilleky.gov/government/planning-design/confronting-racism-zoning.

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