Chapter 17.28
COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT PLANS

17.28.010 Purpose

The purpose of this Chapter is to establish review procedures and approval requirements for projects which, due to their size, complexity, or the nature of their anticipated impacts, require comprehensive planning in order to meet the goals of the General Plan. A comprehensive development plan may be either a Specific Plan or a Planned Development, depending on the size and complexity of the project as described in this Chapter.

Preparation of a comprehensive development plan is appropriate for large-scale, mixed-use projects which are expected to be built in phases over a long period of time; projects which, because of topographic, environmental or infrastructural constraints, require flexible development standards in order to achieve superior design and minimize adverse impacts; projects in which coordination of multiple owners is required to achieve a long-range development or land use plan; and projects requiring the coordination of land use planning with planning for infrastructure, public safety, circulation, open space, resource conservation, housing, or other development issues as identified in the General Plan policies.

The review process for comprehensive development plans provides a method to identify development constraints and opportunities applicable to a specific site, and to tailor the development regulations to the site in order to achieve a more efficient use of the land and high quality of design. This process would result in adoption of a Specific Plan or Planned Development, as described in this Chapter.

17.28.020 Applicability

A.    Review of a comprehensive development plan shall be required for the following development proposals:

1.    Projects within areas designated on the General Plan Land Use Map as “Special Development (SD).”

2.    Any project proposed to be adopted as a Specific Plan, pursuant to Government Code Section 65450.

3.    Projects which, because of the scale, intensity of use, site constraints, or anticipated impacts on infrastructure, are determined by the Planning Director to require comprehensive planning through the comprehensive development plan process.

B.    A comprehensive development plan may be proposed for residential, commercial or industrial development projects, or for mixed-use projects proposing multiple uses, densities or intensities of land use, provided that all uses are consistent with the underlying General Plan designation.

C.    The City may approve a comprehensive development plan by adoption of a Specific Plan pursuant to PMC 17.28.040; or a Planned Development, pursuant to PMC 17.28.050.

17.28.030 Application Procedures

A.    A comprehensive development plan may be initiated by action of the City Council, or by the owner or the authorized agent of the owner of property within the proposed project area.

B.    A pre-application conference shall be required for any comprehensive development plan, pursuant to PMC 17.20.030.

C.    Any application for a comprehensive development plan shall be made on a form provided for that purpose by the Planning Department, along with the required fee as established by City Council Resolution.

17.28.040 Specific Plan Review

A.    Purpose and applicability

The Specific Plan process is intended to provide a method of comprehensive planning for large scale, mixed use development projects which are anticipated to be built in successive phases over a longer period of time than is typically granted for other development entitlements. Projects for which a Specific Plan would be appropriate would generally meet the following criteria:

1.    The project site is not presently served by infrastructure and community services needed to support the proposed development, nor do comprehensive plans to provide these facilities exist; and

2.    The proposed mix and intensity of land uses, and their relationship to the project site, warrant consideration of special development standards and criteria beyond those otherwise provided in the Zoning Ordinance; and

3.    Specific development plans for each portion of the subject property are not known at the time of project review, but are anticipated to be submitted subsequently as the project develops in conformance with the approved comprehensive development plan; and

4.    Due to the long-term nature of the project and the cost of providing substantial infrastructure improvements, an implementation plan addressing financing, phasing and maintenance of public improvements is necessary to ensure the project is developed in accordance with the General Plan.

B.    General provisions

1.    A Specific Plan may be proposed within any zone district(s), provided that the proposed type and intensity of use is consistent with the General Plan.

2.    A Specific Plan should typically be utilized for projects of over one hundred sixty (160) acres in area. Comprehensive planning for smaller areas may be more appropriately accomplished through the Planned Development Process as described in PMC 17.28.050.

3.    Adoption of a Specific Plan shall constitute a change of zone. Upon adoption, the Official Zoning Map shall be revised to indicate the approved Specific Plan and its identification number.

4.    Applications for a Specific Plan may be accompanied by other applications for entitlements, which may be reviewed concurrently, provided that the effective date of any additional approvals shall be on or after the effective date of the Specific Plan.

5.    Any application for a Specific Plan shall be processed in accordance with Government Code Sections 65450 through 65362 and the provisions of this Section of the Zoning Ordinance.

C.    Required contents of a specific plan

1.    Narrative Report. The purpose of a Specific Plan narrative report is to describe the proposed development, place it within the regional setting, and provide detailed information necessary for plan review. The report may be organized in any manner necessary to present the required information. The report, however, must be clear, concise, and organized in a logical manner to facilitate review and processing. Maps, tables and graphic illustrations shall be required when appropriate. The required report contents shall be included as set forth in the Specific Plan Application provided by the Planning Department, and shall include but not be limited to the following information:

a.    Information regarding the property, developer, owner, representatives and consultants preparing the report.

b.    Table of Contents, including lists of maps and figures.

c.    A discussion of the nature and intent of the proposed development.

d.    A descriptive analysis of the project site.

e.    Quantified information on the impacts of project build-out.

f.    A development plan for all proposed land uses in the project (including open space).

g.    A description of existing infrastructure, projected improvements needed to serve the project, and a plan for providing needed infrastructure, including community facilities.

h.    A circulation plan for the project.

i.    Development standards applicable to development within the specific plan.

j.    Special design standards applicable to the project, including but not limited to signage, landscaping, fences and walls, lighting, and entry monumentation.

k.    Proposed phasing of the project.

l.    An implementation plan for the project.

m.    A discussion of how the project conforms to the General Plan policies and maps.

2.    Maps. The purpose of the Specific Plan maps is to graphically depict characteristics of the project site, its regional setting, the proposed nature and intensity of development, project phasing, and other pertinent information needed for project review. All required maps must be submitted at a reduced scale suitable for inclusion in the narrative report, as well as at a larger scale suitable for display. Required contents of maps shall be as set forth in the Specific Plan Application provided by the Planning Department, and shall include but not be limited to the following information:

a.    Existing conditions of the project site, including topography, natural drainage courses, existing structures, roads, easements, uses, zoning and General Plan designations.

b.    The proposed Development Plan, including phasing.

c.    The proposed Circulation Plan, including phasing, any proposed trails, and connectivity to the regional circulation system.

d.    Any proposed landscape, design or amenity features.

D.    Review procedure

1.    The Planning Commission shall hold a public hearing on each proposal for a Specific Plan. The hearing shall be set and notice given as prescribed in PMC 17.20.020. The hearing may be continued from time to time. The Planning Commission shall determine whether the Specific Plan is consistent with this Zoning Ordinance and with the General Plan, and may recommend to the City Council that the Specific Plan be approved, or approved in modified form by the City Council, based on the appropriate findings as contained in this Chapter. If the Planning Commission determines that a proposed Specific Plan is not in conformance with the General Plan or that the findings for approval cannot be made, the Planning Commission may deny the application based upon the findings contained in this Chapter, and their action is final unless appealed, pursuant to PMC 17.20.110.

2.    Upon recommendation of the Planning Commission on a proposed Specific Plan, the City Council shall hold a public hearing. The hearing shall be set and notice given as prescribed in PMC 17.20.020. The hearing may be continued from time to time. Following the closing of the public hearing, the Council shall make specific findings as to whether the Specific Plan is consistent with the Zoning Ordinance and General Plan. The Council may adopt the Specific Plan by ordinance or by resolution, based upon the appropriate findings as contained in this Chapter.

E.    Required findings for approval

Prior to approving a Specific Plan, the following findings supported by adequate evidence shall be made by the City Council:

1.    The distribution, location and extent of land uses, including open space, as depicted in the Specific Plan is consistent with the General Plan.

2.    The Specific Plan provides for adequate public infrastructure and services needed to support the land uses described in the plan, meaning the proposed distribution, location, extent and intensity of transportation, sewage, water, drainage, solid waste disposal, energy, parks, community facilities and other essential facilities.

3.    The standards and development criteria, including requirements for resource utilization, will ensure that development proceeds in an orderly fashion and maintains a high level of quality.

4.    The Specific Plan contains implementation measures, including financing programs, to ensure that development is supported by adequate infrastructure as it occurs.

5.    The site is suitable for the type and intensity of development proposed.

6.    The flexibility in development standards afforded by the Specific Plan process has resulted in a project providing more superior design and amenities than would occur under more traditional zoning practices, and the project provides clear and substantial benefit to the City of Palmdale.

F.    Amendments and modifications to approved Specific Plans

Unless otherwise set forth within the Specific Plan, amendments or modifications to an approved Specific Plan shall be processed as follows:

1.    Minor revisions

A revision or modification to an approved Specific Plan, including but not limited to minor density transfers, minor adjustments to the alignment of roadways or utilities, minor modifications to landscaping, wall materials or streetscape design, which will not increase or change the use or intensity of the site, may be acted on by the Planning Director upon submittal of an application, required materials and applicable fees for a Minor Modification, pursuant to PMC 17.26.040.

2.    Amendments or major revisions

Any request for a revision or modification to an approved Specific Plan which, in the opinion of the Director of Planning, does not constitute a minor revision will be processed as a major revision in the following manner:

a.    An amendment or major revision to the text of an approved Specific Plan will be processed using the application procedures, review process and findings for approval as set forth for Zoning Ordinance Amendments in PMC 17.24.110 and in subsection (F)(2)(c) of this Section.

b.    An amendment or major revision to the land use map or land use exhibits of an approved Specific Plan will be processed using the application procedures, review process and findings for approval as set forth for Zone Changes in PMC 17.24.100 and in subsection (F)(2)(c) of this Section.

c.    In addition to the findings for approval set forth in PMC 17.24.100 and 17.24.110, any approval of an amendment to a Specific Plan text or map shall also be based upon a finding that such amendment conforms to the intent and applicable goals and policies of the Specific Plan.

17.28.050 Planned Development (PD)

A.    Purpose and applicability

The Planned Development is intended to provide a method of comprehensive planning for smaller, less complex development projects than are typically processed with a Specific Plan, which meet the following criteria:

1.    The project site contains topographic constraints, environmental resources, or other features which require special planning consideration; and

2.    A more efficient and desirable design can be achieved through flexible design standards and/or mixed land use patterns than can be attained through the strict adherence to zoning standards; and

3.    Adequate public facilities and infrastructure exist or can be provided to the project site to serve the proposed type and intensity of development; and

4.    Detailed development plans are known at the time the comprehensive development plan is prepared, allowing concurrent review and approval of entitlements for the project area; and

5.    Buildout of the PD project area is anticipated within the term of the concurrent entitlements.

B.    General provisions

1.    A PD may be proposed within any zone district or Specific Plan designation, provided that the type and intensity of uses is consistent with the General Plan, the zoning, or any applicable Specific Plan.

2.    A PD should typically be utilized for projects of between twenty (20) to one hundred sixty (160) acres in area. The project site must be of sufficient size to allow provision of design benefits and site amenities through flexibility of development regulations. Projects of a larger scale are more appropriately evaluated through the Specific Plan process.

3.    When adopted by the Planning Commission, a PD shall be depicted on the Official Zoning Map with an identification number, for purposes of disclosure. However, adoption of a PD does not, in itself, constitute a Zone Change. Upon termination or expiration of a previously-approved PD, the Planning Director shall remove the PD identification number from the Official Zoning Map. (Zoning Ordinance Amendment 95-6 adopted by City Council April 10, 1996.)

4.    All applications for PD approval shall be accompanied by the appropriate applications for land use entitlements necessary for project implementation, including but not limited to subdivision maps, Site Plan Review, Conditional Use Permit or other applications.

5.    Initial approval of a PD shall be for the period of five (5) years. One or more extensions of time may be granted by the Planning Commission up to an additional five (5) years from the original expiration date. (Zoning Ordinance Amendment 95-6 adopted by City Council April 10, 1996.)

C.    Application requirements

The Planned Development application shall consist of a text and set of maps, in the required number of copies as specified in the application form provided by the Planning Department, which depict the exact nature of the intended development. At a minimum, the submittal package must contain the following elements:

1.    Map exhibits

a.    A Development Feasibility Map showing development opportunities and constraints which could affect the project design. Information to be included on this exhibit may include but not be limited to slope gradients, drainage courses, seismic hazard zones, floodplain designations, easements and utility corridors, viewsheds, significant ridgelines, existing structures, natural or cultural resources and other similar features which must be considered in reviewing the project. This map shall also include such features offsite or adjacent to the project site, if they will impact the project design.

b.    A Development Plan showing the project site as well as five hundred (500) feet around the site boundaries, showing the type and intensity of proposed land uses (including open space) within the project site, and existing and planned uses adjacent to the site (including General Plan and Zoning designations).

c.    A Circulation Map for the project site showing proposed locations, widths and grades of all proposed public and/or private streets, and their relationship to existing or planned streets outside of the project boundary. The area outside of the project site to be included on the exhibit shall be appropriate to clearly demonstrate how the proposed circulation pattern integrates with the existing and proposed circulation system in the vicinity of the site.

d.    Infrastructure Plan, showing how the project will be provided with sewer and water, its relationship to master drainage facilities, and how the project will be served by school, park and fire services (if applicable).

e.    Exhibits a, b and c above shall be prepared at the same scale on a topographic base map with a contour interval of no greater than five (5) feet or as otherwise approved by the Planning Director. Exhibit d may be prepared at a smaller scale to show the relationship of the project site to regional infrastructure and community facilities.

2.    Text

The text submitted with the Planned Development application shall clearly explain the proposed project, including type, intensity and phasing of development. The text shall contain the following information.

a.    Site information, including names, addresses and telephone numbers of owner, developer and/or builder, and consultants; legal description; description of existing site condition; total site area; slope density analysis (if applicable); and description of opportunities and constraints as depicted on the Development Feasibility Map.

b.    Project description, including proposed uses and percent of site area by use, including open space; proposed building footprints, including location and lot coverage; proposed floor area ratio (for commercial and industrial uses); proposed gross density (for residential uses); proposed Circulation Plan; proposed Infrastructure Plan; description of any special considerations in the project design (such as affordable or senior housing, hillside development restrictions, etc.); proposed phasing, including tabulation of uses or units by phase; and proposed development schedule.

c.    Special development standards, including a description of any development standards used within the PD which vary from those in the Zoning Ordinance or any applicable Specific Plan, including but not limited to setbacks, landscaping, parking, building height, lot coverage, signs or other standards. This section need only address those standards which are different from those that would pertain to the site without approval of the PD.

d.    Implementation, including a description of procedures for implementation and administration of the project, including on-going maintenance of common areas and facilities.

e.    Appendices, including any special studies or supporting documentation prepared for the project.

D.    Review procedure

The Planning Commission shall hold a public hearing on each proposal for a Planned Development. The hearing shall be set and notice given as prescribed in PMC 17.20.020. The hearing may be continued from time to time. The Planning Commission shall determine whether the Planned Development is consistent with the Zoning Ordinance and General Plan, and shall approve or deny the proposal based upon the findings contained in subsection E of this Section.

E.    Findings for approval

Prior to approving a Planned Development, the following findings supported by adequate evidence shall be made by the Planning Commission:

1.    The distribution, location and extent of land uses is consistent with the General Plan.

2.    The site is suitable for the type and intensity of development.

3.    Adequate access is provided in accordance with the General Plan Circulation Element.

4.    The project site is or will be provided with adequate public services and facilities to support the proposed development.

5.    The flexibility in site development regulations contained in the Planned Development has resulted in a project demonstrating clear and substantial benefits to the City of Palmdale.

F.    Amendments and modifications to approved Planned Developments

Revisions or modifications of Planned Developments may be requested by the applicant and shall be processed as follows.

1.    Minor revisions

A revision or modification to an approved Planned Development, including but not limited to minor changes in the site design, parking or building placement, which will not increase or change the use or intensity of the site, may be acted on by the Planning Director upon submittal of an application, required materials and applicable fees for Minor Modification, pursuant to PMC 17.26.040.

2.    Major revisions

A major revision or modification to an approved Planned Development, including but not limited to change in conditions, expansions, intensification, location, or hours of operation shall be processed through application of a Major Modification or new Planned Development, as determined by the Director of Planning based on the extent and scope of the proposed revision.