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The Planning Department Fee Schedule (PDF) is available for download.
To request advance notification of a project, please fill out the Request for Project Notification (PDF) form and submit it to:Planning Department950 Maidu AvenueSuite 170Nevada City, CA 95959
You may also email the form. For specific project notification please contact the project planner to request special notification of public hearings and other opportunities to participate in the planning process.
The Nevada County Zoning Ordinance establishes 21 Base Zoning Districts and several Combining Districts. Base districts establish allowable uses and the site development standards for your property. Combining districts provide any additional or unique requirements that may apply to your property. All properties have a base zoning. Only some properties have combining districts.
Every parcel has a specific zoning designation, such as Commercial, Residential or General Agricultural. Do not assume your zoning is the same as your neighbor's zoning. Zoning designations are shown on official Zoning District Maps, usually combined with a numerical symbol that shows the minimum parcel size and/or the maximum allowable density. For example, if your property is zoned "AG-10-ME," your base zoning is General Agricultural, the minimum parcel size for subdividing is 10-acres, and there is a "Mineral Extraction" combining district attached.
While it is not typical, zoning can change without notice so it is in your best interest to check your zoning before you plan to sell, or develop you property. You will need to know the address or Assessor's Parcel Number of the property for which you are seeking information.
You may obtain your zoning in any of these ways:
All zoning must be consistent with the County's adopted General Plan. In many instances, changes to the zoning map will also require a change to the General Plan map. In order to amend the General Plan, you must be able to demonstrate that the change is in the public interest ("What public benefit will result from the change?"), and that the change is consistent with General Plan Goals and Policies. You should also evaluate whether there have been significant changes to infrastructure in the project area, e.g., "What new services are available to your property that were not available when the current General Plan took effect?" For specific questions and discussion about amending either the zoning or General Plan, you should make an appointment with a County Planner by calling 530-265-1222.
The Community Development Agency does not maintain official maps or recorded deeds of individual properties. If a site plan was prepared for a previous permit, that plan may be available. Many County offices use the Office of the County Assessor's Parcel Maps for reference in determining the proximity and shape of all parcels within the County, including the cities.
Assessor's maps provide a great deal of useful information, including the boundaries of cities and special districts, delineated by Tax Area Codes; they may reflect recorded easements, and they may specify a recorded map number. Assessor's parcel numbers are assigned for tax purposes and do not necessarily reflect legally created parcels. One legally created parcel may contain one or more Assessor's Map numbers, especially if the property is divided by a road, a creek or a special district. Do not assume that this map reflects a legal parcel, multiple parcels or legal boundaries. You may obtain a map from the online My Neighborhood Interactive Map.
The Office of the Nevada County Recorder, reached at 530-265-1221, maintains all officially recorded Parcel Maps and Final Maps (subdivisions) and Records of Survey. If your property has never been surveyed, there may not be an official map available.
The ability to subdivide property depends on a number of things. The first criteria is always the minimum parcel size or density established by the General Plan and zoning map. If you are zoned for 5-acre parcels, that means you must have acreage equal to 5 acres per dwelling unit. If the "density" can be satisfied, the answer is then "maybe." The proposed land division must be able to satisfy requirements for sewage disposal and water supply, and adequate access. The subdivision must also be designed to avoid environmentally sensitive resources as defined by County Zoning Ordinance.
The County Tentative Map Guidelines (PDF) provide detailed information on the procedures that are required before land can be subdivided. To discuss specific issues or concerns about your property you should make an appointment with a County Planner 530-265-1222.
Nevada County has adopted Resource Standards which outline what types of natural resources are considered to be environmentally sensitive and protection standards for those resources. This website offers a few tools to determine the presence of these resources on your property and others are provided by state or federal agencies. The My Neighborhood Interactive Map is a good place to start when trying to do a cursory review of a property in Nevada County. Available layers include flood hazard zones, important farmlands, and fire severity zones. Additionally, you are able to overlay a mosaic of USGS maps that show watercourses (ponds, rivers, creeks etc.) and elevation contours (to assist in determining areas of steep slopes) and aerial photos to assist in determining the presence of landmark oak groves and trees. While a field visit is always warranted, the tools available on this mapping interface should assist you with making a preliminary assessment.
If this is important to you, you are also encouraged to visit, call 530-265-1222, or email the Planning Department to get any additional information on the property which can be obtained through the Community Development Agency's Record Request process. If there was a previous land use permit or land division involving a given property, the Planning Department may have a site specific biological or cultural inventory on file for the property. While specific findings of cultural resource inventories are typically confidential to the general public, we can discuss those resources in general terms with the land owner. Should you wish to investigate further into whether or not your property hosts any known cultural or historical resources you are encouraged to do a records search with the discuss those resources in general terms. Should you wish to investigate further into whether or not your property hosts any known cultural or historical resources you are encouraged to do a records search with the Northern Central Information Center at California State University Sacramento who, for a small fee, can do a records search of your property.
You may also procure the services of archeologist/cultural resource professional to prepare a cultural report or a biologist to prepare a biological inventory for your property. Another good resource for determining the presence of sensitive plant and wildlife species in the vicinity of your property is the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Natural Diversity Database. Finally, if you are concerned over the potential for hazardous materials to occur on your property, the State Water Resources Board maintains a Geotracker database for regulated facilities in California and the State Department of Toxic Substances Control maintains an Envirostor database of clean-up sites and hazardous waste facilities. Should you determine that your property does have hazardous material on it, you are encouraged to seek out the services of the local geotechnical firm to perform a preliminary endangerment assessment.
A setback is the distance between a structure and a property line, a natural feature, a road right-of-way, and other improvements. In all residential and rural zoning districts, setbacks are required from all property lines and roadways.
Setbacks vary with zoning but can also be affected by further restrictions recorded on subdivision maps. Front yard road setbacks for residential uses are 20 feet from the edge of the road right-of-way (not the edge of pavement), or 45 feet from the centerline of the road right-of-way, whichever is greater. All residential and rural properties must maintain a 30 foot setback from the side and rear property lines; however, if your parcel is less than three acres in size and your property is served by public water, the setback from the side property line can be reduced to 10 feet, and the rear setback reduced to 20', subject to certain fire protection measures.
The front property line is the side containing the road right-of-way or easement. The rear property line is the line opposite the front line. For determining setbacks on corner properties, the front line is the shorter line abutting the road (not the driveway access). Section L-II 4.2.5.E. of Zoning Ordinance can assist in determining which is the front property line for unusual property configurations.
In areas that are zoned to allow single-family residential homes, there are also provisions for additional dwelling units, without subdividing your property. In most cases, your property must be able to satisfy the density established by its zoning. For example, if you are zoned RA-5, you may have one dwelling unit for each five acres (however, a minimum parcel size is not required for one dwelling).
With the exception of Accessory-Second Dwelling Units, most second dwelling units will require a land use permit issued by the Planning Department, requiring review for compliance with applicable standards, including possible road improvements. The following types of additional dwelling units are allowed:
Only pre-qualified biological consultants that have been approved by the County are authorized to prepare these inventories.
Land use complaints can be filed at the CDA Customer Service Center at the Nevada County Administrative Center. All formal complaints must be filed on the official form, and must be signed. The name of the complainant is confidential. If you have questions concerning the filing of a complaint, contact the Code Compliance Division of the Community Development Agency at 530-265-1362, or visit the Code Compliance Division webpage.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps for most of Nevada County were updated by FEMA on February 3, 2010. These maps indicate the approximate location of the floodplains for the major drainage courses within the County. Floodplains may be mapped for entire properties or portions of properties. The maps are available for viewing at the Planning Department Front Counter.
Constructing or placing fill within a floodplain requires a use permit. Additionally, zoning regulations establish a 100 foot non-disturbance buffer from the boundaries of a floodplain. If you propose construction in or near a floodplain you are advised to obtain a copy of the County Floodplain Ordinance and/or the Zoning Ordinance for reducing buffer areas. Copies are available at the Planning Department Front Counter.
Section 3.4 of the Zoning Ordinance establishes an animal density standard for the keeping of animals where no commercial activity is involved, as long as they are cared for in a manner that does not create a public nuisance or health problem.
In Rural zoning districts (e.g. the AG, AE, and FR), there is no limit on the number of animals, including cats and dogs.
In Residential districts, there are maximums for parcels that are less than 0.5 acre in size, i.e., three dogs or cats (over six months of age). For specific detail and additional restrictions, you should always check the Zoning Ordinance.
Generally, the following timelines are established for permits requiring Planning Department review; however, applications that are incomplete or that trigger the need for additional information may result in delays.