Special Exceptions

Special Exception is a class of land use in the Forest Park Zoning Code. Appendix B of the Zoning Code details the uses that are classified as Special Exceptions in a particular zoning district, and defines "Special Exception" as:
"...those uses which would ordinarily not be appropriate in a district without special restrictions. These uses may be permitted by the Planning Commission as provided in the Zoning Code. The control of such uses within a zone is necessary in order to promote and preserve the health, safety and general welfare of the public."
A Special Exception is sometimes described as similar to a "conditional use," which is a term commonly found in other zoning codes. There is a similarity, but the two terms are not interchangeable. Conditional uses typically are considered appropriate for a given zoning district if certain conditions are met. Special Exceptions, on the other hand, are ordinarily not appropriate for a given district unless they have restrictions. Thus, with conditional uses there is presumption that the use is appropriate (with conditions), but with Special Exceptions the presumption is that the use is not appropriate (unless restricted by either the nature of the development or by the number of Special Exception uses within the city.)
 
Standards and Procedures

All Special Exceptions must meet the following standards:

1. The public's health, safety, morals, welfare, and interest, including but not exclusively, such factors as safety and traffic conditions, surrounding housing or property values, and the socio-economic impact on people working or living in the area surrounding the proposed development are not negatively impacted.

2. The proposal must not create a nuisance caused by or increased by noise, litter, or lighting conditions, that cannot be controlled. 

3. The proposed development and attendant special exception must protect and preserve the character, attraction, and orderly development of the affected district. 

4. The proposal must not be incompatible with the surrounding area, and be an appropriate use as related thereto so as not to be economically, aesthetically, or environmentally detrimental or injurious to the surrounding area, or its workers or residents. 

5. Adequate public facilities and services, including, but not exclusively, existing or proposed plans for water, storm sewer, and sanitary sewer, must be available or can be created to serve the anticipated needs of the development, and whether the provisions of such public facilities and services is economically feasible or reasonable to the city and its citizens.

6. The proposal must not to render the use of vacant land or the completion of proposed developments in the surrounding area unavailable or unlikely.

In order to grant a Special Exception, the Planning Commission holds a public hearing, for which the surrounding properties owners have been notified by mail, and the general public by publication in a newspaper. The purpose of the public hearing is to take testimony from the applicant and any other interested persons. Following the public hearing, the Planning Commission evaluates the proposal and makes findings regarding whether the standards outlined above have been met by the proposal. If they have, the Planning Commission can approve the Special Exception. If they have not, then the Planning Commission can either deny the Special Exception or postpone the matter to allow the applicant to make revisions or provide additional information.
 

Special Exception Uses with Additional Standards
 
Certain land uses that are classified as Special Exceptions have additional standards beyond those outlined above. These land uses are:
  • Adult Entertainment Facilities
  • Group Living Facilities
  • Nursing, Personal Care Facilities and Hospitals
  • Self-Service Storage Facilities
  • Service Stations
  • Telecommunication Towers
  • Used Car Dealerships