Local Legislative Process

The process of adopting a zoning ordinance varies from community to community, but generally follows similar procedures. The process may begin through a recommendation by a designated military ordinance policy committee, as described in the Examples of Process and Partnerships section​, or some other process or entity. A bill must usually be sponsored by a member of the local legislative body to be considered.

A military compatibility ordinance typically is first considered by a planning commission, sometimes called a "planning and zoning commission" or "planning board." The process of developing the ordinance is often led by a municipal planning department that is responsible for preparing a report describing the ordinance and the process to prepare it, along with a recommendation. The report and recommendation are then submitted to the planning commission, which holds public meetings advertised in advance through email, newspaper ads, and websites. The planning department presents the ordinance at the public hearing and answers any questions from commissioners or the public. The hearing allows the public, including representatives of an affected military installation, to provide their input into the proposal. After closing the public comment portion of the hearing, the planning commission discusses the ordinance and any concerns by the public and votes whether to recommend it to the elected legislative body, or if edits or changes should be made. A commission may also recommend denial.

After receiving the ordinance from the planning commission, the legislative body will introduce it and schedule a public hearing. If the ordinance also involves rezoning land or amends property development standards for a specific zoning district, it may be necessary to notify affected landowners. Planning staff and legal counsel are typically present at the public hearing to answer questions and advise elected officials. Depending on the form of government, a mayor or city manager may also be present. Following the public hearing, the elected body may choose to discuss the ordinance in greater detail and hold work sessions. Once that process is complete, the elected body can vote on the ordinance. The body can adopt the ordinance as proposed, amend the ordinances as deemed appropriate, or send the ordinance back for specific changes or amendments. Any necessary changes typically require a restart of the adoption process, with another round of staff review and potentially another public hearing by the planning commission.

Flow chart outlining steps in the legislative process 

Common steps in a successful legislative process

>> Next: Outline of a Compatible Use Ordinance

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