Planning / Zoning Department
The motto for the City of Saraland is “Gateway to Progress.” Through careful planning and cooperation, we strive to protect the quality of life for our residents and visitors while maintaining positive support from our businesses and developments. Gateways are for walking through but we’re certain when you see Saraland, you’ll want to stay.
The Land Use and Development Ordinance is an updated compilation of previously adopted regulations. The Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments are tasked with the responsibility of interpreting the City’s plans and ordinances concerning land use and growth.
The Saraland Planning Commission meets the second Tuesday of each month in the Saraland Municipal Courtroom. The meetings begin at 6:00 p.m. and are open to the public.
Planning Commission responsibilities include:
- Preliminary Subdivision Plat Review
- Preliminary – Final Subdivision Plat Review
- Final Subdivision Plat Review
- Site Plan Review
- Zoning Amendment Review
- Vacation of Easement Review
- Right-Of-Way Vacation Review
- Request for Annexation
- Variance Application
- Special Exception Application
- Administrative Review Application
- Sign Permit
- Right of Way Permit
The Saraland Board of Adjustment meets on the first Tuesday of each month in the Saraland Municipal Courtroom. The meetings begin at 6:00 p.m. and are open to the public. Applications and requests for the Planning Commission or the Board of Adjustment are due 30 days prior to the Boards scheduled meeting. Applications should be returned to the Building Department at 933 Saraland Boulevard South, Saraland, AL 36571. For additional information, you may call the Building Department at 679-5502.
The City of Saraland’s Sign Ordinance can be found in Article 33 of the Saraland Land Use & Development Ordinance.
No Sign Will Be Allowed In The Right-of-Way.
Signs Requiring Permits: (Section 33-5)
- Freestanding/Name Indication Signs (see Schedule of Permitted Sign Requirements)
- Wall Mounted Signs (up to 20% of frontal surface area of building, 300 SF sign max.)
- Yard Signs
- Menu Type Signs
- Automobile Dealership Signs
- Gasoline & Fuel Signs
- New Construction Signs
- Convention & Grand Openings (Including Banners – 50 SF max.)
- Temporary Promotional Banners (30 SF max.)
- Reader Board Signs
- Interstate Corridor Signs
- Off-premise Signs
Signs NOT Requiring Permits: (Section 33-4)
- Official Traffic & Municipal information signs when erected by a governmental agency
- Vehicle signs when the vehicle is used for transportation and not solely for advertising
- Address Numbers
- Real Estate signs for sale, rent, open house, or signs for real estate improvements (see Section 33-4(d) for restrictions)
- Promotional Weekend & National Holiday Signs (see Section 33-4(e) for restrictions)
- Political Signs
- Flags (see Section 33-4(g) for restrictions)
- On-premise Directional Signs (2 SF max.)
- Memorial & Historical Markers after City Council Approval
- Professional/Occupational Signs (5 SF max.) (see Section 33-4(j) for restrictions)
- Temporary Yard Sale Signs
- Signs Incorporated on Machinery (2 SF max.)
- Indoor window signage (20% of glass surface, max.)
- Canopy Signs (6 SF max.)
Signs Not Allowed: (Section 33-6)
- Prohibited Placement: on any sloped roof, fence, tree, stand pipe, fire escape, or utility pole
- Prohibited Wording: “Stop” or “Danger”
- Flashing Signs
- Sign Types: portable, bench, snipe, sandwich, feather flags, or streamers
- Prohibited Sign Effects: producing sound, noise, interference with radio, telephone, TV, produce motion pictures, emit make, vapor, particles, odor, are animated, or produce rotation, motion, or movement
- Billboard and Off-premise Signs (see Sections 33-5(n & o) for restrictions)
- Vehicle Advertisement (see Section 33-6(g) for restrictions)
- Illuminated Tubing
The Amortization Schedule is a portion of the Sign Ordinance that regulates the loss of “legal nonconforming” status. “Legal Nonconforming” is the description that was given to any sign in existence that was not in conformance with The Land Use and Development Ordinance on the date of adoption of the Ordinance.
The Amortization Schedule states that legally nonconforming signs shall be either
1. Removed or replaced with a conforming sign by January 1, 2014, OR
2. Removed or replaced with a conforming sign a date seven (7) years from the date in which the property is annexed into the corporate limits.
Once these deadlines have been met, a legal nonconforming sign shall immediately lose its legal nonconforming status and must come into conformance.
Loss of Legal Nonconforming Status:
If a legally nonconforming sign is structurally altered, abandoned, discontinued, relocated or replaced, including the result of an act of God, the sign shall immediately lose its legal nonconforming status and must come into conformance with the Ordinance.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Sign Ordinance?
The Sign Ordinance regulates size, type, number, and location of signs available to each property. This helps to prevent hazards to traffic, minimize effects on nearby properties, and encourage a positive visual environment. The Sign Ordinance can be found in Article 33 of The City of Saraland Land Use and Development Ordinance.
- Is my sign in compliance with the Ordinance?
In order to determine the answer, follow the worksheet located here.
- What is my property zoned?
Check the Saraland Zoning Map or you may request a Zoning Verification Letter from the Building Department. Please verify all information with the Department before making any business decisions.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is my property zoned?
Check the Saraland Zoning Map online or you may make a request Zoning Verification Letter from the Building Department. Please verify all information with the Department before making any business decisions.
2. Is my property located in the Saraland School District?
Only property located within the City of Saraland is in the Saraland School District. To verify whether you are inside or outside of the city limits, check the Saraland Zoning Map online .
3. How do I annex my property into the city limits?
In order to be eligible to annex into the city limits, your property must touch another piece of property that is already in the city limits, creating a “domino effect”. Once this occurs, you may submit an Annexation Application, along with a copy of your deed, to the Building Department. These documents will be reviewed by the Planning Commission, a public hearing will be held, and the annexation will be voted on by the City Council. Check the Saraland Zoning Map to see if your property touches the city limits.
4. Is my property located within the City’s Planning Jurisdiction?
The City’s Planning Jurisdiction extends three miles beyond the city limits. To determine if a specific piece of property is located within the Planning Jurisdiction, check the Zoning Map.
5. How close may I build to my property line?
It depends on what your property is zoned and where it is located. In general, for lots which are in a neighborhood, are zoned R1, and are not on a corner, you can build as close as 35’ to your front and rear property lines and as close as 10’ to your side property line. For corner lots or other zoning districts, call the Building Department for setbacks.
6. If my property is in the Planning Jurisdiction, am I required to go before the Planning Commission in order to subdivide the property?
Yes. The Planning Commission must approve the subdivision plat.
7. How high should my fence be?
A privacy fence in the back yard is required to be 6’ high. Fences of other types, such as commercial buffer zones or around cell towers, have different requirements. Reference the Land Use and Development Ordinance or call the Building Department for additional information.
8. I think my neighbor’s structure is too close to the property line/their fence is too high/they’re operating a business out of their home, what can I do?
Call the City of Saraland Building Department, 251-679-5502.
9. Can I operate a business from my home?
Home Occupation Business is an occupation for gain or support that is conducted only by members of a family living in a dwelling. It is allowed in residentially zoned areas, but must be approved through Special Exception by the Board of Adjustment. Limitations are listed in Article XXXI of The City of Saraland Land Use and Development Ordinance. City Hall can be contacted for the required licenses.
10. How do I submit an application to the Board of Adjustment?
Contact the Building Department to verify that you do in fact need to go before the Board. All applications and fees will then be submitted to the Building Department, and your project will be placed on the agenda for the Board of Adjustment. Applications may be found here.
11. How do I submit an application to the Saraland Planning Commission?
Contact the Building Department to verify that you do in fact need to go before the Planning Commission. All applications and fees will then be submitted to the Building Department, and your project will be placed on the agenda for the Planning Commission. Applications may be found here.
12. What are the meeting and deadline dates for the Board of Zoning Adjustments and Planning Commission?
The Board of Adjustments meets on the first Tuesday night of every month at 6:00 p.m. in the Saraland Municipal Complex Courtroom located at 937 S. Hwy. 43. In order to be on the agenda for the Board of Adjustments, all paperwork must be submitted thirty (30) days prior to the meeting date.
The Planning Commission meets on the second Tuesday night of every month at 6:00 p.m. in the Saraland Municipal Complex Courtroom located at 937 S. Hwy. 43. In order to be on the agenda for the Planning Commission, all paperwork must be submitted thirty (30) days prior to the meeting date.
13. How do I sell a piece of my property/give a piece of property to a family member?
Subdivision Approval is required whenever a new lot is being created, or an existing lot line is being removed, or shifted regardless of whether the property is being sold or simply conveyed to someone else. The Planning Commission reviews all such applications within the corporate limits of Saraland, as well as the Planning Jurisdiction. This approval ensures that the proposed subdivision of land complies with the minimum requirements of the Subdivision Regulations. (Subdivision Application)
14. What are the Subdivision Regulations?
Another service the Land Use and Development Ordinance provides is to act as an advisor to the Planning Commission on the issue of subdivisions or the dividing of land. Subdivisions are usually the first step in the development of growth, which is a big concern to the City in terms of providing adequate services. Therefore, the Planning Commission will determine if the minimum requirements (i.e. size of lot, proper access, etc.) are met before approving the subdivision. In addition to reviewing these applications within the city limits, the Commission’s jurisdiction extends three miles beyond the city limits to what is known as the Planning Jurisdiction. The State allows the extension because again, the City of Saraland must be prepared to provide services as the city grows.
15. What is the Landscaping Ordinance?
In an effort to enhance the aesthetic and economic value of the city, Saraland enacted a Landscaping Ordinance. These regulations require that all new projects, marginal use change projects, and properties with changes in ownership comply with the Landscape Ordinance. The Ordinance can be found in Article XIX of The City of Saraland Land Use and Development Ordinance.
16. What are the top 10 common oversights that result in Plan review Unresolved Issues?
No Engineering Certification Form, incomplete application
Lack of storm water calculations
Existing and proposed grades not shown
A CBMPP not provided
Project, property, and floodplain boundaries and offsite conditions not shown
Disturbed area and landscape buffer not clearly defined
No vicinity map
Improper details or incomplete detail sheet
Inadequate size and length to width ratio for sediment basins
Inadequate construction sequence
17. What is the key to success?
Accurately review checklists to ensure that you have included all documents, fees and plan requirements. Incomplete plans may be returned without a review.
18. Where do I submit my plans and permit applications?
City of Saraland Building Department, 933 Saraland Blvd South, Saraland, AL 36571
19. What fees are involved and when do I pay them?
The Fee Schedule may be found in Article XXXIV of The City of Saraland Land Use and Development Ordinance. Fees may be paid to the Building Department when plans and applications are submitted.
20. Who do I make my check out to?
Checks should be made out to The City of Saraland. Cash will be accepted; however, credit cards are NOT accepted.
21. Where can I find additional information?
City of Saraland Building Department, 251-679-5502.