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Posted on: September 2, 2022

Planning Application Information Packet

Planning Application Information


What Is a Planning Application?

A Planning (PLN) Application is the means by which the Planning Department collects the information required for analysis of discretionary and administrative projects. 

Application Guidelines

To assist you in the preparation of your project, general information and guidelines for common land use applications are provided below. If you have questions about the applications, please visit the Planning Department on the first floor of the Eric Rood Administrative Center at 950 Maidu Avenue in Nevada City.

  • Discretionary Permits: A discretionary project is one that requires the exercise of judgement or deliberation by a public agency in determining whether the project will be approved, or if a permit will be issued. Discretionary projects are typically brought before a hearing body within 84 days of the project being received by the Planning Department. However, the identification and resolution of issues with the project can extend this timeline.  
  • Administrative Permits: Those permits that can be reviewed by staff without a public hearing and without environmental review.  These permits should be processed within 30-45-days of complete application determination and include: Home occupation permits, boundary line adjustments, setback easements, voluntary mergers, zoning consistency letters, outdoor event permits, and management plans. Application information, filling instructions, and processing time frames of each of these permits is listed in the applications.  
  • Building Permits: Planning assistance is often required by Building Department staff for the issuance of building permits. Planning review may include a site plan review for zoning consistency, setbacks, permitted uses, and Conditions of Approval.  

Research Request or Pre-Application Review

Many complicated or policy-related types of development permits may require discussion with staff prior to formal application submittal. For those developers who want to consult with a Planner for more than a twenty-minute counter discussion, they should request one of the following:

  • A Planner Consultation: The County Planner spends additional time researching and discussing the proposed project. A Planner Consultation does not result in written comments about the project or include comments from other departments. 
  • Formal Pre-Application Review:  A request for input from all agencies that would be notified during project review, followed by a formal meeting with applicable agencies to discuss their comments provided in the pre-application letter.
  • Procedure for Pre-Application Review:
  1. Applicant completes an application form, attaching pertinent plans and/or project information.
  2. Deposit Fees are collected and an Agreement to Pay Form is submitted.
  3. Depending on the nature of the request, the project description and any submitted information will be distributed to those agencies that have permitting authority or are determined by the Planning Department to have an interest in potentially impacted resources.
  4. Follow-up letters are prepared to clarify discussions and recommendations.
  5. A planning file containing the comment letters and pre-application materials is created for future reference.

What Makes an Application Complete?

In order for the Planning Department to determine that an application is complete, it must contain all of the required information listed in the Planning Application checklist. All forms must be completed, signed, and submitted as a hard copy with an electronic copy of a flash drive to the Planning Department. The application must be accompanied by all required supporting materials (architectural plan sets, photographs, etc.), and all required application fees must be paid.

In addition, the application must include adequate information necessary for project analysis including environmental review and demonstration of compliance with all applicable ordinances and codes. The County will not act on an application until it has been determined to be complete by all County and Responsible Agencies reviewing the application and environmental review is completed.

What Is a Supplemental Application?

Supplemental Applications collect additional information required for the review of specific projects such as Communication Towers or Comprehensive Master Plans and are a required component of a complete application. Supplemental Application forms must be submitted as an attachment to the Planning Application and not as a stand-alone submittal.

Can I Appeal the Completeness Determination?

Yes, if the application along with the submitted materials are determined to be incomplete the applicant can appeal that decision in writing along with a filing fee. 

Can I Make Changes After I Submit?

Yes, however once an application is determined to be complete, changes that will increase the number of units, add uses that were not previously listed, substantially change the site plan, or other changes that trigger the need for additional discretionary approvals may require a new application or restart the review “clock.”

What Is the Discretionary Project Review Process?

  1. Submit an Optional Pre-Application

Pre-Application review provides information from Planning staff or other County departments that should be considered before formally submitting an application. It is optional but recommended on complex development to discover potential hurdles and identify the approvals needed.                  

Submit a Planning Application

Once you are ready for project approval, submit your Planning Application. The project will be assigned to a planner who reviews the application materials, conducts the environmental review, and makes a staff recommendation. Within 30 days, you will receive a determination in writing if the application is determined to be complete.

Go to Development Review Committee Meeting

The Development Review Committee Meeting is an optional discussion to receive any clarification on comments made by reviewing agencies or to find guidance on the next steps.

Decision-Maker Determination

A duly noticed public hearing will be held after the application is determined to be complete and the environmental review is done.  The public hearing will be posted in the local newspaper and property owners near the project site will be notified. If the determination is not appealed, the original decision stands; otherwise, the appellant body hears the appeal before rendering a final decision.

Map Check

For subdivisions, the Planning Department and the Department of Public Works will review the map to ensure that the map addresses all conditions and mitigation measures prior to recordation.

Submit a Building Permit Application

Following all discretionary approvals, you are ready to submit for a Building Permit or a Public Works permit, if required. The plans will be checked by your assigned planner and by other County departments to verify that the project is consistent with the approved design and is in compliance with all Conditions of Approval and Mitigation Measures. At the successful completion of this review process, permits will be issued for the project and construction may commence.


The County departments will inspect the site to verify the conditions have been met prior to final occupancy. 

For more information, see the attached Discretionary Land Use Entitlement Process Flowchart.

What Is the Administrative Project Review Process?

Submit a Planning Application

Once you have compiled all the documents required by the application, submit the packet to the front counter of the Planning Department. The project will be assigned to a planner who will then route project to appropriate agencies or departments for review along with reviewing the project for compliance with County ordinances for consistency with the scope of a Program Environmental Impact Report. 



If any of the reviewing agencies determine the project is not in compliance with County code or if there is not adequate information about the project it will be determined to be incomplete. The applicant will receive a letter listing the items that are incomplete which need to be addressed in a resubmittal. All responses to department comments must be compiled into one resubmittal packet that is delivered to the Planning Department. After the application is determined to be complete and the project has been determined to meet all the required standards, a Conditional Approval will be sent. The Conditional Approval includes specific conditions that must be addressed based on the specified timing.


Submit a Building Permit Application

After the administrative approval of the land use entitlement, you are ready to apply for a Building Permit. The plans will be checked by Planning and by other County departments. At the successful completion of the review process, permits will be issued for the project and construction may commence. 


For more information, see the attached Administrative Land Use Entitlement Process Flowchart.

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