Development Review Process

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The City of Novato has a development review process containing several steps, starting from a general or schematic level and progressing to more detailed levels. This allows the applicant to receive feedback from City departments and other agencies regarding the proposal's conformance with adopted policies and codes, prior to spending substantial amounts of time and money on more detailed plans. The range of applications required for development review are listed below. Not all development proposals must go through all the possible applications. Separate information sheets are available which describe each application in detail. All time periods mentioned begin with acceptance of a complete application.

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW
  1. Most projects must go through environmental review as required by California Environmental Quality Act.
  2. Environmental review takes place with the first application.
  3. Adds four months if the project receives a Negative Declaration.
  4. Adds eight to twelve months if the project requires an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT
  1. Required when proposal is not consistent with the current Novato General Plan, usually Land Use Plan designation.
  2. May be processed concurrently with a Rezoning and possibly Master Plan.
  3. Unless Master Plan is processed concurrently, environmental review covers only General Plan Amendment and Rezoning.
  4. Requires hearings before Planning Commission and City Council.
  5. Time period required is six months for projects receiving a Negative Declaration; a year or more for projects requiring an EIR. The City is limited by law on the number of General Plan Amendments processed each year.

REZONING
  1. Required when proposal is not consistent with current zoning designation.
  2. May be processed concurrently with General Plan Amendment and/or Master Plan and Precise Development plan.
  3. Requires hearings before Planning Commission and City Council.
  4. Time period required is about six months for projects receiving a Negative Declaration; a year or more for projects requiring an EIR.

MASTER PLAN
  1. Required in the Planned District Zone.
  2. May be processed concurrently with Rezoning and/or Precise Development Plan.
  3. Requires hearings before Planning Commission and City Council.
  4. Time period required is about six months for projects receiving a Negative Declaration; a year or more for projects requiring an EIR.

PRECISE DEVELOPMENT PLAN
  1. Required in the Planned District Zone.
  2. May be processed concurrently with Master Plan or Tentative Map.
  3. Requires hearing before Planning Commission and City Council.
  4. Time period required is about six months.

TENTATIVE MAP
  1. Required to divide any property into two or more parcels.
  2. May be processed concurrently with Precise Development Plan.
  3. Requires hearing before Planning Commission for five or more lots; action by the Community Development Director for four or fewer lots.
  4. Time period required is three or more months.

DESIGN REVIEW
  1. Required for most development.
  2. Requires hearing before Design Review Commission, or action by the Community Development Director.
  3. Time period required is about two to four months.

FINAL OR PARCEL MAP
  1. Required to complete subdivision of property.
  2. Requires checking of map and improvement plans.
  3. Time period varies with size of subdivision - up to several months.

USE PERMIT
  1. Required for certain uses, as specified in Zoning Ordinance.
  2. Requires hearing before Zoning Administrator, or Planning Commission.
  3. Time period required is about two months.

VARIANCE
  1. Required for relief from physical standards in Zoning Ordinance, such as setbacks.
  2. Requires hearing before Zoning Administrator, or Planning Commission.
  3. Time period required is about two months.

BUILDING PERMIT
  1. Required prior to any construction.
  2. Time period varies with complexity of project - up to two months.

GRADING PERMIT
  1. Required prior to any construction.
  2. Time period varies with complexity of project. Usually reviewed with Final or Parcel Map Improvement Plans or Building Permit.

ENCROACHMENT PERMIT
  1. Required prior to work in City right-of-way or City property.
  2. Time period varies with complexity of project. Usually reviewed with Final or Parcel Map Improvement Plans or Building Permit.

SIGN PERMIT
  1. Required prior to erection of any signs.
  2. Time period required is three to ten days.

BUSINESS LICENSE
  1. Required prior to opening a business.
  2. Time period required is about two days.