City of Talent Oregon / Community Development / Frequently Asked Questions / Development and Zoning

Frequently Asked Questions - Community Development
Development and Zoning

Q: What are the rules in the Historic District?


What We Need to Know:

  • The subject property address
  • The type of improvements proposed
  • Where any additions will be located on the lot (relative to property lines and line of sight from public streets)

Talent has adopted two historic districts located in the downtown area of the city. One is located in the Old Town Plat, Talent’s original subdivision platted in 1910 (west of the railroad, north of Wagner Butte Ave., and east of West Street). The other comprises the houses on either side of Gibson Street and north of Sunny Street. In addition to the two historic districts, there are sixteen historic sites specified in the zoning ordinance for protection. All new development, other projects that affect the exterior appearance of structures within the historic districts, and all development within 150 feet of a designated historic site may be subject to Historic Design Review by the Architectural Review Committee (see Section 8-3L.7 of the Talent Zoning Code). Section 8-3L.7 provides standards for historic preservation in Talent and is being updated to reflect statewide and local policy changes regarding the preservation and conservation of historic and cultural resources.

Compliance with the recommendations of the Architectural Review Committee are voluntary. However, compliance makes good economic sense for property owners and approval by ARC facilitates the approval process by staff and the Planning Commission. The Architectural Review Committee can provide resources on appropriate building materials to use for historic preservation and compatible construction techniques and architectural details. ARC can refer applicants to contractors with the special skills needed to restore historic details. And very often the recommended, historically appropriate materials can be purchased for prices comparable to the cost of conventional materials. Using the proper materials and techniques to support historic preservation can improve the appearance of the neighborhood and property resale value.

For more information, or to schedule a site visit with the Architectural Review Committee, contact Marla Cates at (541) 535-7061.

For more information, contact Marla Cates at (541) 535-7061.

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Q: How do I get a business license?


Business licenses are renewable on January first each year. The current license fee is $60 per year, prorated semi-annually for new licenses. Businesses with more than two employees also pay $5 per employee per year for the number of employees beyond the first two. For more information, see General Ordinances of the City of Talent, Section 6-6.2. Click here to download the City's Business License application.

We need to know:

  • The address of the business location
  • The type of business
  • The type of business that was last located in the proposed location
  • The number of employees you will have at the time of application

Commercial Locations:

If the proposed business is

  1. In an existing commercial building;
  2. In a zoning district that allows the use outright; and
  3. similar in nature to the legally established business that was in the location before, it is possible that a business license can be approved over the counter the first time you come in.

If the previous business was not legally established, or if there are code compliance problems with the business location, the new property owner must work with the City Planner to clear up any remaining problems before a new business may begin.

If the business:

  1. Is to be located in a new building or
  2. Is a change in use that will have increased traffic or other impacts on surrounding uses, a Site Development Plan Review will be required per Section 8-3L.1 of the Talent Zoning Code (see below).

Residential Locations: If a proposed business is to be located in a residential zoning district, a Home Occupation application must be approved ($60.00 one time fee). The main issue that must be addressed for home occupations is the potential impact of the business operation on the neighbors. The Talent Home Occupation ordinance requires the applicant to get the support of neighbors for a home business. If that support is not forthcoming, the alternative is to go before the Planning Commission for their approval ($150.00 one time fee).

To get started with a home occupation application, make an appointment with the City Planner for about twenty minutes to obtain an area map made that shows which property owners need to be contacted, and a list of those owners. You will need to write a brief description of your proposed business, particularly addressing the potential effects of your business on the neighbors, such as number of delivery truck visits per day, or operation of machinery in the garage. It is important to be honest, and to anticipate what you will really need to be successful. The description of your business that your neighbors sign for you is the business being approved, and will be treated like a contract between the applicant, the neighbors, and the City. Operation of your business in a way that is significantly different from your description is a violation of the Zoning Ordinance, and could result in legal action.

Once the required number of approval signatures is obtained, the City Planner will send a tentative approval letter to the applicant and the affected neighbors. The City provides for a seven working day appeal period. If no appeals are received at the end of the seven working days you may obtain your business license.

Home Occupations may only employ family members of the residents of the home where the business is located. Operations must be indoors in the home or in a typical residential accessory building, and there can be no outward appearance of the business, except for a small sign, if desired. Home Occupation approvals are non- transferable to a new type of business and they are non-transferable to a new proprietor or homeowner. For more information, see Section 8-3L.6 of the Talent Zoning Code.

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Q: What can I do with my lot?


What We Need to Know:

  • Where is it located (we need a number address, tax map and lot number, or for you to identify the lot on a zoning map)?
  • What do you want to do with it?

To find out what you can do on your lot, you will have to consult the Talent Development Codes. Talent has zoning districts for Residential, Commercial, and Light Industrial land uses. The Zoning Code includes an Article for each of the zoning districts, with the various uses that are allowed listed under four basic categories. The zoning ordinance tells you what is permitted, and under what conditions it can be approved.

Zoning ordinances are “inclusive”. If a lands use is allowed, it will be included in one of the use lists in the ordinance. If it is not listed, it is not allowed. A land use will not be permitted in any zone where it is not listed. There is one exception to this general rule. If a proposed land use is not listed in any zoning district in the city, it may be possible to permit it in a zone as a “Similar Use.” To obtain approval for a “similar use”, the applicant has to demonstrate that the proposed use is substantially similar to uses that are allowed, particularly in terms of its impacts on the surrounding area.

The categories for land uses are based upon the impacts of the uses on the neighbors and the level of review that is required for approval. Some uses are permitted outright. For instance, the first single-family residence on an individual lot in a residential zoning district is an outright permitted use. In addition to the list of permitted uses, there are Residential Development Standards, prescribed setbacks from property lines, and some other basic requirements for permitted uses. The planning procedure for permitted uses is just a quick check by the City Planner to see that those basic requirements are met, and a signed “Zoning Clearance Permit” that authorizes the Building Official to accept your construction plans for review and permits.

Some new uses require Administrative Site Development Plan Review, meaning that the City Planner will need to review the project for compliance with City development standards. More complex uses require Site Development Plan Review with a public hearing in front of the Planning Commission. Also, uses that are considered to have a potentially significant impact on the surrounding area require Planning Commission review and consideration of Conditional Use Permit criteria that address how potential adverse impacts can be minimized. For more information, see the “Site Development Plan Review” section of this document.

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Q: What is a "non-conforming use"?


When people talk about something that is “grandfathered” they are usually talking about a non-conforming use. The general term “non-conforming use” may refer to a land use, a structure, or a lot. Situations that violated City Code when they were established cannot be “grandfathered”, but legal pre-existing conditions may be. The three types of non-conforming uses are considered separately as non-conforming “uses,” “structures,” or “lots.”

Non-Conforming Uses: A non-conforming use is one that is located in a zoning district that no longer allows that use. An example would be a pre-existing mobile home park located in a commercial zoning district. A legal non-conforming use is one that was started or built before adoption of the regulation that now makes it non-conforming. Non-conforming uses may be continued, maintained, and improved. However, non-conforming uses may not be expanded. If the structure housing a non-conforming use is substantially damaged (loss of 50% or more of the value of the premises), it cannot be replaced unless it complies with all current regulations. If a non-conforming use is discontinued for longer than a year, the use has effectively been abandoned, and it cannot be re-established.

Non-Conforming Structures: A non-conforming structure is one that does not comply with current siting standards, but it houses a use that is allowed in the zoning district in which it is located. The most common type of non-conforming structure is one that does not meet current setback requirements. For example, there are several homes along Wagner Creek that do not meet the newly established wetland and riparian area setbacks. Non-conforming structures may be maintained and improved, but they may not be expanded in a way that increases the non-conforming conditions. If a non-conforming structure is substantially damaged, reconstruction of the building must meet the siting and construction standards currently in place. If the current setbacks or other standards cannot be met on the lot, it will be necessary to get approval of an Exception or a Variance to any standards that cannot otherwise be met. Special setbacks such as the Wetland and Riparian Setback provide for an exception procedure under certain circumstances where the standards cannot be met. For extenuating circumstances, and where there is no exception process, a Variance may be approved. However, approval of an Exception or a Variance is not a sure thing. Ownership of a nonconforming structure incurs risk to the owner, and non-conforming structures sometimes cannot be replaced.

Non-Conforming Lots: A non-conforming lot is one that does not meet the size or dimension standards for the zoning district in which it is located. Legally established lots (Legal Lots of Record) can usually be developed in spite of unusual size or shape only if setbacks and other basic development standards can be met. If a lot cannot be developed due to circumstances beyond the control of the property owner, it is possible that a Variance can be approved to remedy the situation.

There are also many small pieces of land in the City that are not legal lots of record. More than likely, these lots are the result of remaining portions of the lot from an original plat or subdivision. In most cases, a potential remedy is a lot line adjustment, but it cannot be completed by the Tax Assessor’s Office because of inconsistent deed records or other technical problems. Such lots cannot be developed unless they are either 1) consolidated with legal separate lots or 2) formalized by approval of a partition.

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Q: What does the City do to minimize flood risks?


The City has several roles in reducing flood risks. The Public Works Department maintains storm drains and has made a long-term commitment to improve storm drainage as street improvements are funded. In 1998, the City developed a Storm Drainage Master Plan and Storm Drainage Design Standards to guide future improvements to the local system. Also, the City completed a new Emergency Response Plan to help us respond quickly and effectively in the case of a flood or other emergency.
The City participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This program makes flood insurance available to all properties in participating communities. To qualify for the NFIP, the City had to adopt a flood damage prevention ordinance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). On December 17, 1999 a new flood damage prevention ordinance went into effect that is somewhat stricter than the minimum federal standards.

The flood damage prevention ordinance applies only to new construction or manufactured home placement. Adopting stricter standards not only provides a higher level of protection for new buildings, the fact that we have set a higher standard will help us to minimize the cost of flood insurance to all local property owners. In 2000, the City applied for an insurance classification to reduce flood insurance rates through the Community Rating System program, and setting higher than minimum standards for development in the flood plain will earn points for that classification. A 10 percent reduction in flood insurance rates was awarded in April 2000. The City Planner has applied for “recertification” to maintain this reduction in August 2001.

The City Planner is the Floodplain Manager for Talent. It is the planner’s responsibility to give property owners and developers sufficient information to ensure compliance with the City’s regulations for development in the floodplain. This information will include the NFIP map information for the site, requirements of the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance and the Stormwater Design Standards where applicable.

The Planner provides information to property owners that they will need when they apply for flood insurance. Homeowners’ and renters’ insurance does not include flood insurance, but your insurance agent will be able to help you apply for flood insurance from the NFIP. It is important to note that the State of Oregon does not have a fund to help individual property owners recover from flood damage. The only secure way to cover possible losses from a flood is to carry flood insurance. Federal aid for recovery from a flood is only available in the case of a nationally declared disaster. Most floods are not nationally declared disasters! And even if a disaster is declared, most of the aid to private property owners will be in the form of a loan, not a grant. Flood insurance is a good idea, and rates in Talent will improve next year. Contact your insurance agent for more information on how to start your policy.

Flood risks can be reduced for existing buildings too. The City has set up a flood hazard prevention section at the Talent Library. Check with the reference librarian to find more information about ways you can reduce the risks for your home or business.

For more information, please read the Third Edition of the Flash Flood Report released in September 2001. [LINK TO FLOOD INFORMATION GOES HERE]

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Q: What is the procedure for getting building permits?


Once you have final zoning approval for a construction project, you are ready to obtain building permits. The final approval may be a Zoning Permit, or an approved site development plan review.

Permit fees are based upon State regulations and the type of construction or installation applied for. City staff cannot estimate construction permit costs.


Jackson County is on contract to provide building department services to the City of Talent. These services include structural, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical permit review, state building code interpretation, and site inspection.

The City Planner must review and approve the “final site plan” that meets the conditions of approval that were assigned as part of the planning and zoning approval before the building review process in initiated. Once this final site plan is approved, the Talent building official will provide an applicant with a checklist of items that may be required to review an application for a building permit depending on the type of request. In addition, the City will not issue building permits until all applicable systems development charges (SDCs), including sewer (Rogue Valley Sewer Services), are paid in full.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 535-7401. Residential building plans are accepted Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Building permits will be issued at Talent's City Hall, 110 East Main Street, Monday through Friday between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

For more information, contact (541) 535-7401.

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Q: What are the rules for fences in residential zones?

A: Click Here to view the Zoning Code.

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Q: Can I keep a horse (cows, goats, chickens, etc.) in the City?


What We Need to Know:

  • Where your lot is located
  • How big is the lot
  • What type of animal and how many do you propose to have

The two single-family residential zoning districts, RS-7 and RS-5, allow some agricultural uses, including agricultural animals. Other districts allow horticulture, but do not allow farm animals. There are restrictions on minimum lot size and numbers of animals, as described in Section 8-3C.1 and 8-3C.2 of the Zoning Code.

No swine are allowed. Horses, cows, sheep, and goats are only allowed on lots of 20,000 square feet (about one half acre), and no more than two adult animals may be kept per acre. Also, no animal may be kept within 100 feet of a neighboring house.

Fowl and rabbits may be kept with no more than one adult per 1,000 square feet of property. There are also limits on the number of newborn and juvenile animals that may be kept which are proportionate to the number of adults. Bees may be kept, but no more than two colonies per lot, and the minimum lot size for keeping bees is 8,000 square feet.

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Q: Site Development Plan Review: When is it required? How do I apply?


Site Plan Review is covered at length in Section 8-3L.1 of the Talent Zoning Code. As a general rule, Site Development Plan Review is required for all new construction except for single-family residential development on single-family lots and placement of manufactured homes in existing spaces in established manufactured home parks. Site Plan Review is also required for a change in use in a commercial or industrial building, particularly if the facility pre-dates the Talent Zoning Code. The purpose of Site Plan Review is to determine that the proposed development meets the City’s minimum standards for parking, landscaping, setbacks, and buffering from nearby uses.

The Talent Zoning Ordinance assigns different levels of site plan review for different types of uses. Some applications will receive Administrative Review, which means that the City Planner will review the proposal for compliance with local regulations. Other applications are reviewed by the Planning Commission after a public hearing at which time the applicant and any other interested parties will have an opportunity to address the Commission. Some applications require a hearing before the Planning Commission and must also meet Conditional Use criteria (Section 8-3L.2 of the Talent Zoning Code). The different levels of review address differences in the size and complexity of projects, and on the potential impacts of the proposed project on the surrounding area. When a specific use is not listed anywhere in the zoning ordinance, the applicant may apply for a Similar Use Determination, in conjunction with applying for review based upon the most similar use that is covered by the ordinance.

A Site Development Plan Review application needs to include two basic parts:

  1. A drawing or set of drawings that show what is proposed in sufficient detail that an average person can visualize the finished project. The application must include an illustration of the relative locations of all structures and other architectural features on a “plot plan.” For new construction, it must also include elevation drawings of buildings, with the most important being the sides that will be visible from public streets. Other details that need to be included are listed in 8-3L.140
  2. The applicant must submit written statements in response to the Required Findings for Approval of Plan, of 8-3L.150. Depending upon the size and complexity of the project, these findings will range from simple sentences to formal reports on the individual issues. For all projects, all of the required findings must be addressed by the applicant. Where a specific criterion does not apply to the proposed project, the applicant must state that it does not apply and give a reason why it does not apply. Recent court decisions regarding land use application review practices in Oregon have established that the applicant is responsible for providing adequate information to allow the City to determine that all criteria are met.

When a Site Development Plan Review application is received by the City Planner, the City has up to thirty (30) days to review the application for completeness and either accept it for review or return it to the applicant for further work. Once accepted, a notice will be prepared to let neighbors within 250 feet of the subject property know about the pending application, and to invite their comments on the proposal.

Once the initial comment period, established by the public notice, has passed, the City Planner will review the application and write a staff report that discusses the material submitted, and whether the approval criteria are met. For an administrative review, the staff report will also be a tentative approval with conditions, or denial. For a Planning Commission review, the staff report will either recommend approval with conditions, or recommend denial. Once a final decision has been made, the decision document will be mailed to interested parties, and there will be an opportunity for appeal. Anyone who participates in the decision process, either by written comment or by testimony in a public hearing, has a right to appeal a planning department or Planning Commission decision.

The appeals procedure is covered by 8-3M.1 of the Zoning Code. For more information on notice and appeals statutes, contact the City Planner at (541) 535-7401.

For more information, contact City Planner at (541) 535-7401.

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Q: How do I get my neighbor to clean up their yard? Code Compliance: (remove an old car, mow their lawn, etc.)?


There are a variety of lifestyles represented in Talent, from the family that takes pride in their immaculate lawn to the classic car hobbyist. One household’s natural environment may be their neighbor’s worst nightmare. The City has a role in these matters when there is a health or safety violation, or when the activities spill over into the public right-of-way.

What We Need to Know:

  • The address of the offending property
  • The nature of the complaint in detail
  • Your name, address and/or phone number if you want to be kept apprised of what is going on. You do not have to give your name, but if you do, it will not be revealed to the offending owner or tenant except under the unlikely occurrence that the matter ends up in court and it is necessary to subpoena you as a witness. Court proceedings are a matter of public record.

Weeds: The City carries out a Weed Abatement program during fire season. The City Planner works with Fire District Five to identify problem areas. We notify property owners of the violation, give them ten days from the date of mailing to remedy the situation, and advise them that failure to correct the problem can result in a citation and fine. The City can mow the property and bill the owner, but we don’t do this very often because of the cost and the uncertainty of repayment. Our Weed Abatement Program this year was about 85% effective, with nearly full compliance from local property owners. When the fire season ends, weeds may be merely an aesthetic problem, but these weeds may also be a nuisance if it is likely to harbor pest animals, or if there is also refuse in the overgrown area. For more information see General Ordinances of the City of Talent, Article 4-4.

Refuse: Any deposition of waste or storage of materials can be a violation of General Ordinances of the City of Talent, Article 4-7, particularly as follows: "Section 6. Dumping Refuse. No person shall dump or deposit any foul, decayed, putrid or offensive substance such as dead animals or fowl, garbage, rubbish, leaves, cans, manure, sewage or other refuse along the bank of or in any canal, ditch, creek or river; in any street, alley, park; or upon any lot, place or premises in the city, whether public or private."

The City Planner advises an offending property owner that we are aware of the offense and give them a specific period of time to clean up. Failure to do so can result in citation and fine.

Abandoned and Inoperable Cars. According to Section 4-2, subsection (3) of the General Ordinances of the City of Talent, a vehicle is considered “discarded” if does not have current registration and it is inoperative, wrecked, dismantled, partially dismantled, abandoned, or junked. Such vehicles may not be parked in the public right-of-way or in open areas on private lots. Failure to remove such vehicle within a specified period of time upon notice from the City can result in citation and fine. In the public right-of-way, the City may have the vehicle towed at the auto owner’s expense.

Other Code Compliance Matters. Any violation of the Zoning Ordinance is also a violation of the Nuisance Ordinance, and may result in a citation and fine. The City Planner determines whether a violation has occurred. The Planner’s determination can be appealed to the Municipal Court or the Planning Commission depending upon the type of violation.

Limits to Our Authority. Many situations that arise that appear to be Code Compliance matters are really civil matters. The most common situation is a boundary dispute. Property owners are responsible to know where their own property lines are, and to contain their activities within those lines. When neighbors over step these bounds, if it is not a criminal matter, then the neighbors should try to work things out for themselves. It is almost always best to start by talking to your neighbors. If the problem is not easily resolved in this manner, you may need to consult an attorney to see if there is a legal remedy. The City does not have staff available to address civil matters through conflict resolution between neighbors.

Code Compliance Process. Code Compliance complaints can be made to the City Planner or to the Police Department. Weed Abatement complaints should start with Fire District #5 (535-4222) during fire season, and should go to the City at other times of the year. We will determine which department will act first to try to obtain compliance. Sometimes direct contact with the property owner or tenant by a Community Service Officer of the Talent Police Department is sufficient to solve the problem. At other times a formal notification letter is necessary, and on rare occasions a citation is required. If a citation is issued, the defendant has to appear in Municipal Court. The judge may impose a fine up to $300.00 per violation, and the fine may be assessed on a daily basis for the duration of the violation.

How Long Will it Take to Get Results? Staff response is usually quick for discarded vehicle complaints and other complaints about health and safety matters. For situations that don’t create direct threats to public safety, there may be some delay before we can take action due to workload priorities. Also, the amount of time an owner or tenant is allowed to correct a violation can be subjective. For an owner-occupied home, the time allowed could be from ten days to a month, depending on the season, the size of the problem, and other information we may have about the situation. For out of town owners, more time may be allowed unless there is a clear health or safety hazard. We try to work with owners and tenants to establish a reasonable schedule for compliance. At this time, the City operates under the assumption that it is a better use of our time and taxpayers’ money to work with the offenders rather than to create adversarial conditions that could result in Municipal Court and other legal costs. Our code compliance rates are improving with the help of the Community Service Officers.

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