Zoning Process Overview

Before you purchase property

Always take a thorough look at the property’s information before your make a purchase (or lease) if you plan on changing the use or developing it.

Check its zoning, land use designation, floodplain status, whether it is in the boundaries of a small area plan, subdivision and development regulations, and if it is on a street identified in the Major Street & Highway plan. These documents will help you understand what you are allowed to build/do by right, and what you’ll need to request if your project requires re-zoning from the Planning Commission, or a variance or special exception from the City of Tulsa Board of Adjustment. If you need help during this process, our staff can help. You’ll need to make sure correct zoning is in place before you can apply for any permits (construction, electrical, plumbing, signage, occupancy, etc.), so this step is very important.


Work With Your Neighbors

Even if your project does not require re-zoning, It is best to let your neighbors know about your plans ahead of time, and work with them to alleviate any concerns they may have. Section 70.010-E of the Zoning Code outlines expectations for Neighbor Communications:

  1. Neighbor communications are encouraged by the board of adjustment, planning commission and city council to help: 

    • educate applicants and neighbors about one another’s interests; 
    • resolve issues in a manner that respects those interests; and 
    • identify unresolved issues before initiation of formal public hearings. 
  2. Applicants are encouraged to submit a summary of their neighbor communication activities at or before the first required public hearing. The recommended content of such summaries is as follows: 

    • Efforts to notify neighbors about the proposal (how and when notification occurred, and who was notified); 
    • How information about the proposal was shared with neighbors (mailings, work-shops, meetings, open houses, flyers, door-to-door handouts, etc.); 
    • Who was involved in the discussions; 
    • Suggestions and concerns raised by neighbors; and 
    • What specific changes (if any) were considered and/or made as a result of the neighbor communications. 



Once you’ve determined your needs and talked to your neighbors, meet with our staff so we can make sure you have everything you need to proceed. You’ll then fill out the appropriate applications, submit requested documents/exhibits (site plans, plats, etc.), and pay an application fee. Fees vary, and include postage for mailing, any required physical postings, and newspaper notice.

Staff will review the application and may contact you with questions, problems with your application, etc. Following the review, your application will be given a case number and added to a Planning Commission, City, or County BOA public hearing that corresponds with the application cut-off date. Notice of your request will be mailed to property owners within 300 feet of your property, notice will be published in the newspaper, and your case will be included in the meeting agenda that is posted online a week ahead of the scheduled hearing.

Depending on the complexity or scale of your project, a meeting with the Plan Review Committee (PRC) or a Pre-Development Meeting may be required before your case is assigned to a public hearing.


The Hearing

At the hearing, your case will be read and you or your representative may be called to the podium to speak about your request. Commissioners may ask you questions, and then hear from any interested parties who are in favor of or opposed to your request. After receiving public comments, the Commissioners will deliberate and either yield a decision or postpone/continue the case to a future meeting.

Suggestions for making presentations and giving comments before Boards and Commissions

Begin by stating your name and address.

Make your presentation brief, focused, respectful, and to the point. If there are many speakers, you may be limited to 3-5 minutes. Preparing notes in advance can help you keep your comments brief and focused on the points you want to make. Keep in mind, boards and commissions cannot consider finances in their decisions, so avoid financial remarks.

Choose one speaker to represent a group. If you are part of a larger group (such as a neighborhood association) and several people wish to speak, it is best to select one speaker to present your group’s support or concerns, or to select one person per topic that the group wishes to address.

Keep the discussion relevant. Focus your comments on actions the board or commission can take, and try to avoid issues that fall outside their jurisdiction (e.g. code violations, water taps, utility services, stormwater management).

Say it once. Don’t repeat what previous commenters have already said. If your point has been made by someone else, you can choose to not speak (even if you’ve already signed up to speak).

Send an email or letter if you cannot attend. You may submit comments/feedback to the recording secretaries of each board or commission by email or mail in advance of the meeting. View Staff Directory


After the Hearing

If your application is approved, it will then go before the City Council (for Planning Commission cases) or County Board of Commissioners (for Board of Adjustment cases) for their consideration. If approved, you may then begin applying for permits through the City or County.

If your Planning Commission application is denied, you may appeal to the City Council. If your Board of Adjustment application is denied, you must take the matter to District Court.