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How to Apply for a Site Plan Review

A Site Plan Review Permit is a type of land use permit issued by the City of Exeter for the establishment of certain types of land uses.  The purpose of the Site Plan Review permit is to enable the City Planner to ensure that a proposed development complies with applicable zoning standards.  More specifically, the process is intended to result in well-designed projects that will enhance the physical appearance and attractiveness of the community while protecting public safety and welfare.

Projects reviewed under the Site Plan Review process must meet all applicable standards of the Exeter Zoning Ordinance.  Interested persons can obtain a copy of the ordinance, for a fee, at the Exeter City Hall.  The Zoning Ordinance is a set of laws governing land use and the development of property within Exeter.  The Zoning Ordinance was passed into law by the Exeter City Council.

Site Plan Review permits are required for multiple family dwellings, commercial and industrial buildings, and public and quasi-public buildings.  Site Plan Review is also required when any of these types of uses are expanded by 50% or more.  Site Plan Review is not required for single family homes.

Applicants are encouraged to meet with the City Planner prior to submitting a Site Plan Review application.  This can be done by telephone or by visiting City Hall.  You can reach the City Planner at 559.592.5558 or 559.734.8737

During this meeting, you can discuss the process and important development standards (setbacks, parking, landscaping, etc.) that will apply to your project.  You can also determine whether your project is subject to environmental review (see Environmental Review below).  Such a preliminary meeting will help to streamline the development process.

Applications are available in the Planning Department along with a checklist of the materials that must be submitted for a complete application, including the applicable processing fee.

Upon submittal of the application materials listed in the application package, staff will determine whether the application is complete.  Staff will notify you if additional items are required for a complete application.

Certain land use actions are required to be reviewed for their potential effect on the environment under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  If your project requires this review, you will be notified by staff.  A separate fee is required for environmental review.

Upon review of your application, staff will make one of the following three determinations regarding environmental review:

1)  That the project will not have a significant impact on the environment; or

2)  That the project could have a significant impact on the environment but that certain mitigation measures have been incorporated into the project to preclude the impacts; or

3)  That the project could have a significant effect on the environment and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) must be prepared.  To the extent possible, environmental review of your project will occur concurrently with processing of the Site Plan Review Permit, however, if an EIR is necessary, action on the permit will be deferred.  For more information on environmental review, please ask staff.  Please note that many projects requiring a Site Plan Review Permit are exempt from environmental review.  Check with staff to make sure.

The Planning Commission is responsible for reviewing all site plans.  The Planning Commission will approve, approve with conditions or deny the site plan.  In approving the site plan, the Planning Commission must be able to make the following findings:

A.  That all applicable, codes, ordinances and development standards are complied with;

B.  The following are so arranged that traffic congestion is avoided and pedestrian and vehicular safety and welfare are protected, and there will be no adverse effect on surrounding property:

1.  facilities, improvements and utilities;

2.  vehicular ingress, egress and internal circulation;

3.  setbacks;

4.  height of buildings;

5.  location of service use areas,

6.  fences, walls, and hedges,

7.  landscaping and irrigation.

C.  The proposed lighting is so arranged as to deflect the light away from adjoining properties;

D.  The proposed signs will not by size, location, or lighting interfere with traffic or limit visibility.

E.  That certain conditions of approval are deemed necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare.  Conditions may include requirements involving the following:

1.  Yards, spaces, and buffers.

2.  Fences and walls.

3.  Enclosure of storage areas and limitation on out-of-door display of merchandise.

4.  Grading, surfacing and drainage improvements.

5.  Vehicular ingress and egress.

6.  Regulation of signs.

7.  Landscaping, irrigation and maintenance thereof.

8.  Fire prevention equipment and measures.

9.  Regulation of noise, vibration, odors, electrical discharge or interference.

10.  Regulation of lighting.

11.  Street dedication and improvements.

12.  Such other conditions as could make possible the development of the City in an orderly and efficient manner and in conformity with the intent and purposes set forth in the zoning ordinance.

The applicant or any dissatisfied person may appeal the decision of the Planning Commission to the City Council, within ten (10) days of the Planning Commission’s decision.  Any decision by the City Council is final.

Once the Planning Commission has approved a Site Plan Review Permit, the applicant may apply for building permit(s) for the project.  Plans submitted for these permits must conform to plans submitted and approved by the Planning Commission as part of the Site Plan Review.

It is important to recognize that all application fees are non-refundable after substantial processing has occurred, regardless of whether the Site Plan Review Permit is approved or denied.  It is, therefore, strongly recommended that applicants utilize the preliminary review option previously discussed.

The Planning Department will be happy to help you through the Site Plan Review process.  Please feel free to contact the Planning Department if you have any questions regarding this process or if you have any questions regarding planning regulations in Exeter.  Please phone 559.624.7000 or visit 5961 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA.