Planning and Zoning
City Planning is the coordinating of developing land for commercial, residential, institutional and recreational uses, based on the zoning maps.
Port Arthur's Planning Department is more than 40 years old. Its primary function is to monitor land use and observe how land is subdivided, in regards to the use (zoning). These uses are classified as zoning districts. Many persons are familiar with - "SF" for (single-family). There is "R" (retail), "C" for (commercial) and "I" for industrial. Industrial use areas are comprised of cumulative zoning that should take all uses except housing. Single-family housing, unlike in the days of old is not readily permitted in an industrial area due to the activities that are in progress and typically have emissions, noise or odor with the production of goods. This is why planning was promoted in cities because of the industrial era with a theme to promote health and safety.
- Protect and defend the rights of our customers - such that customer service is effective and efficient, yielding satisfaction to (internal and external customer).
- Promote a prosperous and sound economic development decisions, with our contractors, builders and partners (internal and external).
- Preserve the City's environment, historic legacy, diverse heritage and neighborhood integrity such that records will show evidence of our progress over the centuries.
The Planning Division determines where certain developments will occur, and with other departments, state how the improvements desired to the land will create subdivisions, private homes, malls, parks or recreation facilities.
The Port Arthur Planning Division looks forward to more outreach with the citizens as the 20-Year Comprehensive Plan is rewritten for the 21st Century and residents chart a new course for Port Arthur's continued prosperity.
The use of the land (size, setbacks, bulk of the building and height of the structure) all entails zoning. Subdividing the land is platting it to note the width and depth of the land and how it is described by the Appraisal (Abstract) District. Hence this is where you come to ensure the boundaries of your land as you survey and before you build/place any structure on it. These decisions (zoning/platting) are made by 2 boards - the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Adjustments. Selected members are placed on an agenda by the Mayor, for the Council's consideration and possible appointment. This process is in line with the City's Charter; however, the board's function is in accordance with the Charter and state laws that govern zoning and plat approval.
As communities grew since World War II, other departments were associated with planning. Departments such as Public Works (more so streets and other infrastructure projects-water/waste-water), Engineering (design of structures and soil compaction), Building Inspections, Fire and Police all synchronize with the Planning Division to utilize the Comprehensive Plan.
The Comprehensive Plan is a guide that dictates future uses in contrast to existing uses based on population, socio-economic changes, cultural diversity, hence - transportation and employment needs shall be appeased in line with the demand for housing and retail structures. It's stated that single-family houses are not allowed in "I" zoning districts as it is not part of Port Arthur's present Zoning Ordinance. However, in some sections of the country where land is expensive or scarce, in accordance with their Consolidated Plan (for affordable housing) these "I" areas are developed. Also since this was done in the past, where health, safety and environmental concerns are minimal - we also are rebuilding destroyed houses only. Some residents have chosen to relocate in other areas of the City.