On this page, you will find a breakdown of what planning and development is at the City of Westminster and the city's role is in the process. A number of expandable sections are found below, each detailing an important part of the planning and development process.

About the Planning Division

The city's Community Services Department and its Planning Division are primarily responsible for the review, coordination and approval process for all proposed land development, and are involved in a number of special projects and long-term land use planning activities. The division provides a "one stop shop" for residents and businesses by consolidating project review, permit and inspection functions within one city department. Our overall mission is to continue improving the quality of life, transportation system and employment opportunities for Westminster citizens.

Comprehensive Plan – The primary planning document for the city. It provides a guiding vision that is long-term and shapes decisions related to new development and redevelopment. It is focused on enhancing the vitality of our community and provides the regulatory framework for the city’s Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning.

Official Development Plan (ODP)– A site-specific development plan for one or more properties in an approved Preliminary Development Plan (PDP). It includes a site plan, grading plan, landscape and lighting plans, architectural plans and specific development standards that govern the site.

Planned Unit Development (PUD) - A zoning district where a maximum amount of flexibility is allowed to create a unified, innovative approach to mixed-use design. All PUD-zoned properties are required to have an approved Preliminary Development Plan (PDP). All PUDs are required to comply with the Comprehensive Plan.

Pre-Application Review – The mandatory first step in the development review process. It is a high-level, cursory review of a concept plan for the development of a property and must be completed before the submission of most types of development applications, including PDPs, PDP amendments, ODPs, and ODP amendments.  

Preliminary Development Plan (PDP) – A planning document that illustrates the basic framework for the development of a property. It defines allowed uses; development standards such as height, bulk and building setbacks; design standards; lot arrangement; and access points. All PUD-zoned properties are required to have an approved PDP. All original PDPs require City Council approval.

When we talk about the development of our city, the term private is most often used referring to privately owned properties. Privately owned properties are subject to land use regulations that include zoning and design standards. Private developments include things like shopping centers, restaurants, office complexes and industrial complexes.

The term public is most often associated with property that is owned and managed by agovernmental agency such as a state or city. Public property generally includes land dedicated to things like parks and open spaces, libraries, recreation facilities, water and sewer treatment facilities, and roads and streets.

Community Services manages the development review and entitlement process. This includes reviewing planning, engineering and building components of development plans and providing project management services to coordinate reviews with other agencies. 

More specifically, the Planning Division manages the review of each project individually and coordinates all of the interdepartmental and inter-agency reviews. This ensures that the development complies with all applicable development standards. Planning Division responsibilities include: 

  • Development review project management, from Preliminary Development Plans (PDPs) to Official Development Plans (ODPs).
  • Comprehensive plan amendments.
  • Assessing rezoning, annexation, variance, conditional use, and special use circumstances.
  • Receiving and reviewing permits for buildings, signs, fences, and telecom installations.
  • Assisting in long-range planning initiatives.

The Planning Commission grants final approval for multiple elements of development, which are:
  • Official Development Plans (ODPs) that:
    • Involve a residential development of more than 10 acres.
    • Involve a commercial development of more than 20 acres.
    • Are not administratively approved by the city manager.
  • Special Use Permits (SUPs)
  • Variances from these zoning requirements:
    • Off-street parking standards
    • Sign regulations
    • Density schedule
    • Special regulations
    • Telecom facilities
    • Antennas
    • Nonconforming structures
    • Fences
  • Appeals from the planning manager's interpretation of the zoning map and the zoning district boundary lines.
The Planning Commission provides recommendation to the City Council about:
  • Original Preliminary Development Plans (PDPs)
  • PDP amendments that require City Council approval
  • The Comprehensive Plan and specific plans
  • Rezoning
  • Annexation
City Council grants final approval for multiple elements of development, which are:
  • Original PDPs
  • PDP amendments that:
    • add a new land use to the PDP
    • change the land area devoted to any use in the PDP by more than 10 percent
    • change the density or intensity of use with the PDP by more than 10 percent
    • change the setback or height of any building in the PDP by more than 10 percent
    • constitute a significant change to the PDP in the opinion of the City Manager
  • Comprehensive Plan and specific plans
  • Comprehensive Plan amendments
  • Rezoning
  • Annexation
  • Appeals of Special Use Permit (SUP) denial by the Planning Commission
  • Appeals of ODP decisions by the Planning Commission 
The review process happens across multiple steps, which are:

Step One: Pre-application review. This is the mandatory first step in the development review process. It is a high-level, cursory review of a concept plan for the development of a property and must be completed prior to submitting most types of development applications including PDPs, PDP amendments, ODPs, and ODP amendments.  

Step Two: New project submittal. An applicant submits all required documents associated with PDPs, ODPs or other types of planning related projects.

Step Three: Project reviews. Interdepartmental/inter-agency review of development proposal. This step consists of two or more rounds of review by city staff and outside agencies. The first round of review takes four weeks to complete. Second and subsequent rounds of review take three weeks each to complete. Once staff are satisfied that the project and associated documents have met all city standards, the application moves to step Four if applicable. If no public hearings are required, then the project moves on to step five.

Step Four: Public Hearings (if applicable – see role of PC and CC above)

Step Five: Checkpoint Review. The final review of development plans before recordation. Documents are reviewed for formatting and typographical errors to ensure acceptance in the recordation process.

Step Six: Document Recordation. Development plans are required to be submitted to and recorded by the Clerk and Recorder of the respective county in which the property is located.

Step Seven: Building Permit and Engineering Permit Review. Building and engineering plans for the development are reviewed simultaneously by the Building and Engineering divisions. The processes and timelines are similar to those of the planning review shown in steps one through six above.

Step Eight: Subdivision plat is recorded (if applicable)

Step Nine: Building Permit Approval and issuance; Engineering Permits Approval and Issuance.