Planning & Zoning

Planning and Community Development Division is a multi-function division, administering land-use through the City of Gainesville Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Ordinance and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Zoning is comprehensive in scope, encompassing land use, zoning, planning plat and site plan review.

Coordination is provided between public sectors and private interests using zoning to implement land use regulations after public hearings with Planning and Zoning Commission, the City Council and the Zoning Board of Appeals as needed.

The staff maintains zoning maps and files, and reviews plats and engineering site plans. The Planning Technician works with other divisions and departments as needed.

Platting & Subdivision

Platting or subdivision of property within the City of Gainesville is governed by the City of Gainesville Subdivision Ordinance and the Texas Local Government Code Chapter 212. The platting process ensures that all lots comply with the City of Gainesville’s Subdivision Ordinance and protects public health, safety and welfare.  

The Subdivision Regulations are intended to promote the orderly development of the City and to secure adequate provisions for transportation, drainage, water, sewer, and other facilities. The Ordinance applies to all property within the corporate limits of the City of Gainesville as well as areas within the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) of the City. Any subdivision of land within the ETJ of the City of Gainesville shall be processed through the normal platting processes. The Texas Local Government Code gives cities the authority to enforce their subdivision regulations within their ETJ, which is a means of ensuring that cities will not have to assume maintenance responsibilities for substandard infrastructure (streets, utilities, drainage) upon future annexation.

What is a Plat?

A plat is a survey of property that describes the dimensions and location of lot lines, streets, and easements.  A plat also establishes the lot, block, and subdivision name used in real estate transactions. A plat is not the property survey required by mortgage companies when closing the sale of property. Plats must be prepared by a licensed land surveyor or engineer.  

Plat Filing Information:

The City of Gainesville will file the plat for the applicant.  To file, staff will need a minimum of four (4) 24" by 36" paper (bond) copies and two (2) 24" by 36" mylar copies, plus however many copies you and your client need, and an original stamped and sealed tax certificate. The City of Gainesville staff is the last to sign the plat, so please ensure that all signatures are collected prior to delivery to the Community Development Department.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Community Development Department at (940) 668-4799 or


The City of Gainesville has established a comprehensive sign ordinance to regulate signs within the corporate limits of the City of Gainesville. To apply for a sign permit, please call the Permit and Planning Technician at (940)-668-4799.

For official sign standards, please refer to Chapter 5, Article IV Signs of the City of Gainesville's Code of Ordinances. Any questions regarding the interpretation of the sign code may be directed to the Community Development Department at 940-668-4799 or

Sign Variance

A sign variance is a request to deviate from a literal requirements of the City of Gainesville's Comprehensive Sign Ordinance due to special circumstances. It is not considered a change in municipal law, but a waiver of a certain requirement of the ordinance. If granted, it permits the owner to construct a sign that deviates from certain requirements in the ordinance. The Planning and Zoning Commission hears cases on sign variance requests. Sign variance requests adhere to the same process as zoning cases.

Special Use Permit

A Special Use Permit (SUP) is a permit issued by the City Council that allows the establishment of certain uses, in certain districts, that are considered worthy of additional scrutiny in their proposed location. Such uses typically require special review for design, location, and impact on surrounding properties. These uses may be subject to additional City Council conditions. 

*An SUP alone is not sufficient to open for business. The business must also obtain a Certificate of Occupancy.


  • Completed applications submitted with the following documents site plan/survey, parking information, & a tax certificate showing taxes paid for the current year.
    • For short term rental (STR) applications, please make sure to include STR location, contact information, and what type of STR you plan to operate (owner occupied, owner not occupied, etc.).

Special use permit fee:

  • General Request: $525 application fee
  • Daycare: $395 initial application fee and $75 annual renewal fee

WHAT is the approval process?

  • Timeline: 60 days (approximate) from the application deadline
  • Public Hearings: There are two public hearings required, one at Planning and Zoning and one at City Council.
  • Approval Authority: Planning & Zoning Commission (recommends approval or denial to City Council) & City Council


A variance is a request to deviate from a literal requirement of the zoning, or subdivision ordinances due to special circumstances of a property. It is not considered a change in municipal law, but a waiver of a certain requirement of the ordinance. If granted, it permits the owner to utilize his land in a way that is ordinarily not permitted by the ordinance.

An administrative official of the City of Gainesville cannot approve a variance. It is important to note that use variances cannot be legally granted via a variance, as that is considered to be rezoning and is governed by a different process. Additionally, self-imposed hardships and economically related hardships are insufficient findings to grant a variance.  

Variance requests may be considered by the Board of Appeals after public notice and a public hearing.

The following types of appeals/variance are heard by the Board of Appeals:

  • Appeal regarding possible error in any order, requirement, decision or determination made by the Building Official.
  • Modification (s) of the height, yard area coverage, floor area ratio, parking, or loading regulations as may be necessary to secure appropriate development of a parcel of land which differs from other parcels in the district by being of such restricted area, shape or slope that it cannot be appropriately developed without such modification.
  • Permit the reconstruction, extension enlargement of a building occupied by a nonconforming use on the lot occupied by such building or the reconstruction of a structure destroyed by fire or the elements not to exceed sixty (60%) percent of its reasonable value and the addition of off-street parking or off-street loading to a nonconforming use.
  • Require the discontinuance of nonconforming uses of land or structure under any plan whereby the full value of the facilities can be amortized within a definite period of time.

*Note: Sign variances are granted by the Planning and Zoning Commission. (Please see "Signs" page for more information)

The following attachments must be included with the Board of Appeals Application:

*Applications will not be accepted unless verified to be fully complete.  

  • Project Narrative: a written proposal for the request that describes the request and how it deviates from the code.
  • Site plan drawn to scale that indicates the proposed request
  • Copies of any supporting documentation


Zoning is a municipality's regulation of land uses and associated development.  The City of Gainesville has many zoning districts, each with its own requirements and allowed uses. Development plans must comply with the land use regulations contained within Appendix A: Zoning of the City of Gainesville Code of Ordinances.

Zoning restrictions ensure safer neighborhoods, more attractive business development, well-designed communities, and are the primary means of protecting Gainesville's long-range tax base. The State of Texas delegates the authority and power to zone land to municipalities via Chapter 211 of the Texas Local Government Code.

Contacting the Community Development Department is the first step if one desires to change the zoning on a tract of land. State law strictly governs the rezoning process through a series of legal notices, public hearings, and conformance with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  Factors influencing the outcome may also include compatibility with adjacent zoning districts, proposed land uses, recent zoning trends, adopted development policies, the recommendation of the Planning & Zoning Commission, and other relevant factors.

Forms & Applications

Instruction Sheet for Petition to Abandon an Alley

Application for variance or appeal (DOC) - Variances or appeals will be heard before the Board of Appeals.

Alcohol License Application (PDF) - Alcohol permits must be renewed every two years.

Plat Application (PDF)

Zoning District Change Application (PDF)

Sign Variance Application (PDF)

Special Use Permit Application (PDF). For more information on Special Use Permits, please view the Special Use Permit Information Page (PDF).

Zoning Map