Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

(see also) Planning Terminology - a glossary of common planning terms

 Planning FAQs:
What does Long Range Planning do? What information is available through Long Range Planning?
What does Current Planning do?
What is the Planning Commission and what function does it perform?
What is a Comprehensive Plan?
How do area and corridor plans relate to the Comprehensive Plan?
How is the Comprehensive Plan updated?
What is the Johnson County Rural Comprehensive Plan?
What is the difference between a land use plan and a zoning map?
What is an overlay district?
What is a planned zoning district?
What do I do if I want to annex into the City?
What is an inter-local annexation agreement?
Where is development occurring in Olathe? What are the major ongoing projects?
How many people/homes/businesses are in Olathe? What was the change over the past year?
What is the zoning for a particular property?
What is the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO)?
What are the steps in the development process? How long do they take? How much do they cost?
When should I schedule a pre-application meeting?
When are public hearings required? What are the procedures for formal input or protest?
Does the City have architectural requirements for new commercial building?
Who pays excise taxes, and why?
Who participates in a benefit district, and why?
What is a TDD?
What is the Johnson County 100 year floodplain? How does the floodplain affect my property?

 Signs FAQs:
How do I obtain a sign permit?
How many garage sales can I have?
Where can I place garage sale signs?
Can I have my garage sale on another owner's property?
Where can I place political signs?
Can I place pointer signs or other real estate signs at the corners of busy streets?
Can I have a sign advertising my home-based business?
Can I remove signs that I think are in violation of the sign ordinance?
My sign is gone. Can I get it back?

Zoning Enforcement FAQs:
Can I run my business from home?
Can I run my business from my garage?
Can my employees come to my home?
Can my customers come to my home?
What types of home-based businesses are permitted?
What are the child care operations requirements?
How do I report a violation?
How long does it take to resolve a violation?
Where can I get more information?
How many pets are permitted in my home?

Codes FAQs:
What does Code Enforcement do?
What does Building Inspection do?
What Building Codes does the City of Olathe enforce?
What building inspections are required?
How do I schedule an inspection?
What is the fee for a building permit?
When is a building permit needed for a deck?
When is a building permit needed for a pool?


Planning Questions:


What does Long Range Planning do? What information is available through Long Range Planning?
Long Range Planning responsibilities include implementing the goals and policies of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and the preparation of future land use plans, corridor plans, and neighborhood action plans. The staff also creates and maintains community profile information to assist in the planning efforts of various City departments.
Long Range Planning has information available on the City’s Comprehensive Plan, area and corridor plans, building permits, population, housing trends, commercial activity, and other information that helps guide the future development of the City.
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What does Current Planning do?
Current Planning responsibilities include review of applications and plans regarding land use matters. Recommendations are made to the City Council, Planning Commission, and Board of Zoning Appeals, as well as other committees and advisory boards formed by the City Council. The staff provides information to citizens, businesses, contractors, developers, and landowners regarding land use issues. Current Planning is also responsible for enforcing the Unified Development Ordinance and conducting inspections to ensure that development complies with approved plans.
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What is the Planning Commission and what function does it perform?
The Planning Commission is a nine member volunteer board appointed by the Mayor with the consent of the Governing Body. The Planning Commission’s action is regulated by Kansas State law and it is the body that administers provisions of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The Planning Commission holds public hearings and provides a recommendation to the City Council.
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What is a Comprehensive Plan?
The Comprehensive Plan is the adopted official statement of a legislative body of a local government that sets forth (in words, maps, illustrations, and/or tables) goals, policies, and guidelines intended to direct the present and future physical, social, and economic development that occurs within its planning jurisdiction including a unified physical design for the public and private development of land and water.
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How do area and corridor plans relate to the Comprehensive Plan?
Area and corridor plans are land use plans that supplement information contained in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Area and corridor plans are adopted into the City’s Comprehensive Plan by the Planning Commission and City Council. While the Comprehensive Plan takes a global view of future land use patterns in Olathe, area and corridor plans take a much more detailed look into future growth patterns of specific areas in and around Olathe.
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How is the Comprehensive Plan updated?
The Comprehensive Plan is reviewed annually. The purpose of the review is to identify recommended plan amendments that allow the Comprehensive Plan to reflect the changing land use characteristics of the City. The City boundary is also amended to include areas that have been annexed into the City of Olathe.
Major updates to the Comprehensive Plan, including up-to-date analysis of population, housing, market, and other trends, and a re-examination of the Plan’s goals and objectives, occur on as “as-needed” basis, as directed by the City Council and Planning Commission. The last major update to the Comprehensive Plan occurred in 2010.
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What is the Johnson County Rural Comprehensive Plan?
The Johnson County Rural Comprehensive Plan guides land use and development policies and decisions for unincorporated areas of Johnson County, including the City of Olathe’s Future Growth Area. Land use recommendations within the Rural Comprehensive Plan are closely tied with municipal land use plans, several of which have been specifically adopted into the Rural Comprehensive Plan. For those portions of Olathe’s Future Growth Area that remain in unincorporated Johnson County, the Rural Comprehensive Plan remains the guiding land use document.
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What is the difference between a land use plan and a zoning map?
A land use plan provides general guidance for future land uses as well as goals and policy statements to help direct development and infrastructure improvements for the public good. Zoning refers to binding land use requirements that regulate appropriate use, bulk, height, density, and other characteristics appropriate for a site. Specific zoning regulations derive from the general recommendations of a land use plan.
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What is an overlay district?
An overlay district provides for the possibility of superimposing certain additional requirements upon a basic use zoning district without disturbing the requirements of the basic use district. In the instance of conflicting requirements, the stricter of the conflicting requirements apply.
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What is a planned zoning district?
A planned zoning district is an area of land zoned and improved as a development for which the otherwise applicable bulk, use, and other requirements may be modified in order to allow for more flexible planning in conformance with the development approval process and developed in accordance with the provisions of the relevant zoning ordinance.
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What do I do if I want to annex into the City?
Annexation of property into the City requires approval of the City Council and, in specific situations, the approval of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners. In order for a property to be annexed into the City, the property owner must request via written petition that the City Council annex the property. A copy of the petition form is available here. The petition must be accompanied by the property legal description and a map showing the location of the property. If the property does not have a boundary that is contiguous with the City boundary, then the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners will also have to approve the annexation of the property.
For more information please contact Amy Kynard at 913.971.8917Back to Top


What is an inter-local annexation agreement?
The City of Olathe has written agreements with its surrounding cities (DeSoto, Gardner, Lenexa, Overland Park, and Spring Hill). These agreements establish the City’s “planning area,” which is the City’s ultimate boundary limit. A map of the City’s planning area can be viewed here. The inter-local agreement states that the City of Olathe will not accept annexation petitions from owners of property outside of the City’s planning area and that neighboring cities will not accept annexation petitions from the owners of property within the City’s planning area.
The cities can, and do, renegotiate the boundary lines established by the inter-local annexation agreements.
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Where is development occurring in Olathe? What are the major ongoing projects?
The Major Development Projects map provides a good picture of current development in the city, including project name, type, and number of units.
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How many people/homes/businesses are in Olathe? What was the change over the past year?
Each year, Long Range Planning staff produces a “Development and Demographics” report that provides a summary of area growth, development activity, and population trends. The “Year in Review” and quarterly reports provide detailed statistics on permitting and development activity. All of these reports are available through the City’s website.
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What is the zoning for a particular property?
The zoning for any address or parcel ID can be found through the City’s interactive GIS mapping service. Select the “Find Address” icon and enter the location. The map will zoom to the site and display the zoning. Detailed regulations for each zoning district can be found in the City’s Unified Development Ordinance.
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What is the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO)?
The Unified Development Ordinance combines development regulation and procedures, including but not limited to zoning and subdivision codes, sign regulations, administrative and hearings procedures, and commission bylaws, into a single unified code.
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What are the steps in the development process? How long do they take? How much do they cost?
A complete description of the Development Process can be found here.
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When should I schedule a pre-application meeting?
A pre-application meeting should be scheduled once a site is located, a conceptual plan for the site is completed and the following can be provided:
1. One page summary of the project. Summary will generally address sewer, water, detention, off-site improvements and land use.
2. A concept/sketch plan of the project site, with dimensions.
3. Location map.
Contact the Planning Division at 913-971-8750 to schedule the pre-application meeting.
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When are public hearings required? What are the procedures for formal input or protest?
Public hearings are required for rezoning, special use permit and vacation applications.
The applicant is required to send out public notices at least twenty (20) days prior to the hearing to all owners of record of lands located within at least two hundred (200) feet of the area proposed to be altered. Such mailed notice shall be given by certified mail, return receipt requested, and shall be in letter form stating the time and place of the hearing, a general description of the proposal, the legal description and general street location of the property subject to the proposed change, and a statement explaining that the public may be heard at the public hearing.
Public hearings are held at the Planning Commission meeting. Staff gives a presentation to the Planning Commission describing the proposed project. The applicant is given seven minutes to speak in favor of the project. Each additional person speaking in favor receives three minutes. Next, the first person to speak in opposition of the project is given seven minutes. Three minutes is given to each additional person speaking in opposition. The applicant is typically given two minutes to answer any questions or concerns presented by those speaking in opposition.
The Planning Commission closes the public hearing and provides a recommendation to the City Council by vote. A protest petition against any rezoning or special use permit application may be made up to 14 days (including weekends and holidays) after the Planning Commission meeting.
In order to be considered a "valid" protest, a protest petition must be timely filed and duly signed and verified by the owners of record of twenty (20) percent of the total area required to be notified by state statutes, excepting public streets and ways, located within or without the corporate limits of the City, in accordance with Section 18.12.080 of the UDO.
Where a valid protest petition has been filed, an ordinance approving the rezoning or a resolution approving a special use permit application shall not be passed except by the affirmative vote of at least three-quarters (3/4) of the members of the Governing Body.
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Does the City have architectural requirements for new commercial building?
Yes. The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) and adopted design guidelines contain architectural requirements for new commercial buildings.
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Who pays excise taxes, and why?
Excise taxes are paid by a property owner when a property is platted for development or when applying for a building permit. Revenue from excise taxes is used to fund the infrastructure and other improvements (streets, transportation improvements, parks) that make development possible in new areas. Excise taxes help to defray the public costs of new growth from existing taxpayers in already developed areas.
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Who participates in a benefit district, and why?
Property owners seeking to develop may petition the City for creation of a special benefit district to fund street, sewer, water, and other infrastructure improvements. Participants in a benefit district are assessed a fee to pay the costs associated with a specific infrastructure improvement. Typically, benefit districts allow for infrastructure improvements to be completed more quickly than would otherwise be possible.
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What is a TDD?
A Transportation Development District (TDD) is a special taxing district whereby a petitioner of 100% of the landowners in an area request either the levy of special assessments or the imposition of a sales tax of up to 1% on goods and services sold within a given area. Upon creation of a TDD by a municipality, the revenue generated by TDD special assessments or sales tax under Kansas law may pay the costs of transportation infrastructure improvements in and around the new development.
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What is the Johnson County 100 year floodplain? How does the floodplain affect my property?
The federal government requires mapping floodplains in counties nationwide to designate “100-year floodplains.” These are areas that have a one percent risk of flooding in any given year. The current FEMA regulatory maps were initially defined nearly 30 years ago and have had limited updating. Johnson County and its municipalities are working together to update FEMA regulatory floodplain maps throughout the County. These maps identify areas of risk where stormwater may create problems for the health and safety of residents and their properties today and in the future.
The only completely accurate method of determining if your property is in the floodplain is to have a licensed land surveyor or engineer survey the property and compare the elevations with the existing defined flood elevations. The City’s Planning Services and Public Works departments can only help identify whether or not a floodplain exists in the area.
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Signs Questions:


How do I obtain a sign permit?
A sign permit may be obtained from the Planning Services Department. An application and required submittal information is available on the web site.
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How many garage sales can I have?

Up to six (6) garage sales may be conducted on a single property in a calendar year. Items not sold during the garage sale must be removed or stored inside at the end of each day during the sale. Garage sales are normally three days in length.
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Where can I place garage sale signs?

Garage sale signs may be placed on the property where the sale is held or on other private properties. Garage sale signs may not be placed on the street right-of-way, medians or utility poles and must be removed immediately after the end of the sale.
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Can I have my garage sale on someone else's property?

Garage sales may be held on private property. No sales or signs are permitted on public property (street medians, right of way, parks, trails, etc.)
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Where can I place political signs?

Political signs may be placed only on private property. The signs may not be placed between the sidewalk and curb, on medians, utility poles or closer than ten (10) feet to the curb where there is no sidewalk.
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Can I place pointer signs or other real estate signs at the corners of  streets?

Real estate signs may only be placed on private property. Such signs may not be placed between sidewalks and curbs, on medians, utility poles or closer than ten (10) feet to the curb where there is no sidewalk.
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Can I have a sign advertising my home-based business?

Home-based businesses are allowed to have a sign advertising the business that does not exceed one (1) square foot in area and must be attached to the residence. Such signs may not be attached to the fence, placed in yards or on public property.
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Can I remove signs that I think are in violation of the sign ordinance?

City Staff are available to investigate and remove illegal signs. If you think a sign is in violation, contact the Zoning Enforcement Officer with your concerns.
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My sign is gone. Can I get it back?

Any signs removed by City Staff are properly disposed of on the day that they are removed. Please be aware that your sign could have been removed by someone other than City Staff.
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Zoning Enforcement Questions:


Can I run my business from home?

Home-based businesses are permitted with some restrictions. The intent of the ordinance is to protect the integrity of the neighborhood as residential rather than commercial.
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Can I run my business from my garage?

The Unified Development Ordinance requires that the entire business be contained inside the residence. Accessory buildings are not to be used to store materials, merchandise or work areas for the business.
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Can my employees come to my home?

The Unified Development Ordinance requires that no employees come to the home other than family members residing on the premises.
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Can my customers come to my home?

Yes, by appointment only.
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What types of home-based businesses are permitted?

The Unified Development Ordinance lists the approved home based businesses. Any business that is not listed is not approved. If you have any questions, please contact the Zoning Enforcement Officer for additional information.
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How do I report a violation?

To report a zoning violation, please contact the Olathe Planning Office at (913) 971-8750. Include the location (address) where the violation is occurring, details of the violation, such as what the violation is, when it occurs, who is involved (homeowner, tenants, employees, etc).
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How long does it take to resolve a violation?

After receiving notification of a violation, the property owner and if necessary, the tenant of the property in violation are notified by certified letter and when possible, a personal visit by the Zoning Officer. After notification, the violation is required to be abated in a reasonable amount of time. Due to the different violations, time limits may be extended to allow for abatement. If compliance is not achieved, the property owner and possibly the tenant can be cited in Olathe Municipal court. The process can be one day or longer, depending on when compliance is actually achieved.
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Where can I get more information?

The Unified Development Ordinance can be found at www.olatheks.org or at the Olathe Public Library. If you need further information, you can contact the Zoning Enforcement Officer at (913) 971-8750.
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Codes - Building Permits and Inspections Questions:


What does Code Enforcement do?

Code Enforcement responsibilities include enforcing building codes to ensure safety and quality of construction. The staff reviews construction documents and issues building permits. Fees for building permits, street excise and park excise are collected through this division at the time building permits are issued.
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What does Building Inspection do?

Building Inspection responsibilities include ensuring consistent, quality building construction is completed in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of occupants and provide long-term value to property owners.
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What Building Codes does the City of Olathe enforce?

The building codes currently enforced include:
2000 International Residential Code
2000 International Building Code
2000 Electrical Code Admin Provisions
1999 National Electrical Code (NEC)
2000 International Plumbing Code
2000 International Mechanical Code
2000 International Fuel and Gas Code
2000 International Fire Code and 2000 Life Safety Code (NFPA 101)
2000 International Property Maintenance Code
The City has modified some of the codes.
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What building inspections are required?

Building inspections are required for the following improvements:
• Footing
• Foundation
• Backfill
• Plumbing/Electrical/Mechanical Underslabs
• Engineered Floor Slabs
• Sewer Service Line–From Building to Main Tap (Call Utilities: 971-9311)
• Electrical (Temporary Service for Construction Trailer/Site) – separate application of the building permit – misc electrical application needed.
• Above ceiling
• Complete Gas Pressure
• Rough In (All framing, concealed plumbing, electrical, HVAC)
• Permanent Electrical Service
• Final Approval – All Departments in Review Process to obtain Certificate of Occupancy or Temporary Certificate of Occupancy.
Special inspections or third party inspections are acceptable, check with staff on specific allowable categories.
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How do I schedule an inspection?

Building inspections are scheduled by calling 913-971-8574. Inspections for that afternoon must be received prior to 11:30 am. Inspection calls received between 11:30 am and 4:00 pm will be scheduled for the next morning. Rough Ins, Re-Rough Ins, Finals and Re-finals have to be scheduled by 4:00 pm the day before.
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What is the fee for a building permit?

Please refer to fees and schedules for this information.
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When is a building permit needed for a deck?

A Residential Building Permit is needed for any deck over 30" in height. Deck Guidelines are also located on the forms page.
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When is a building permit needed for a pool?

A building permit is needed for any pool with over 24" of water.
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