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Contextual Overlays

About Contextual Overlays

The Contextual Overlay was established in August 2014 as a zoning tool that can be applied to residential neighborhoods. The Contextual Overlay applies design standards necessary to maintain and reinforce established form or character of residential development in a particular area. A Contextual Overlay must apply throughout the residential portion of a complete block face, and a Contextual Overlay cannot be applied in an adopted historic overlay district.

A Contextual Overlay does not affect the base zoning of a property.

Ordinance BL2014-771 created the Contextual Overlay.

Permit Review Process

For property located within a Contextual Overlay, any new construction or additions to existing structures requires a site plan to be submitted and reviewed by the Zoning Administrator through Building Permit review. The Zoning Administration department is located within the Development Services Center at 800 2nd Avenue South. Additional information on obtaining a residential building permit can be found on Metro Codes' residential building permit page.

Existing Contextual Overlay Locations

How a Contextual Overlay is Created

A Councilmember can request the application of a Contextual Overlay to a specific area.  A neighborhood could also request the application of a Contextual Overlay, if all property owners sign the zone change application. The process to apply a Contextual Overlay is the same as for a zone change:

  • Submission to Metro Planning for review
  • Review and recommendation by Metro Planning staff
  • Public hearing at Metro Planning Commission
  • Metro Planning Commission recommendation to Metro Council
  • Three readings (including public hearing on the second reading) at Metro Council

Design Standards Included in Contextual Overlays

The Contextual Overlay district includes appropriate design standards to maintain and reinforce established form and character of residential development.

The design standards address the following:

  • Setback
  • Height
  • Lot Coverage
  • Access, Garages, and Parking

Full list of design standards, as included in the ordinance

Summary of design standards