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Urban Design Overlays

Street with houses

An Urban Design Overlay (UDO) is a zoning tool that requires specific design standards for development in a designated area. An overlay can protect the character of the area or create a character above and beyond that in the base zoning. They do not affect the uses allowed or prohibited on a property.

An overlay can be used to translate a small area plan from policy into zoning code with regulatory power. Metro Planning prioritizes Urban Design Overlays that are linked to Community Planning Studies and advance goals of NashvilleNext.

Metro Planning Commission, Council Member(s), or Property owners can request a Urban Design Overlay. Since it is a zone change, an overlay request follows the zone change process. We encourage applicants to meet with Planning Staff early in the process prior to requesting one.

Development Standards

Each overlay is unique, and uses different development standards to achieve its goal. It cannot address building uses or stormwater standards. For example, it might address:

  • Building placement, size and height
  • Density - number of residential units allowed
  • Floor area (mixed use and non-residential uses) - amount of square footage that can be built
  • Impervious surface - area with paving and building
  • Architectural Features
  • Building materials
  • Streetscape elements like sidewalks, planting strips, or street furniture
  • Bikeway facilities and design
  • Mass transit facilities
  • Parking and loading
  • Landscaping and buffering
  • Signage

Permit Review Process

Overlays contain regulating plans and design standards that have the same force and effect as the standards of the base zoning district. Planning staff review any final development plans for adherence to the development standards in the overlay.

Applications and Fees

Urban Design Overlay-New, Amendment, or Cancellation Application: $2,800

Urban Design Overlay Modification Application: $1,400

A review of a major, proposed site-specific change of greater than 20% (minor = 20% or less) to any numerical standard, proposed changes to non-numerical standards, or proposed changes to sign-related standards.

Urban Design Overlay Final Site Plan Application: $2,200

Developers must submit final site plans within the boundary of an overlay, which consist of a set of development plans that fully demonstrate compliance with the overlay. Drawings shall specifically describe the nature and scope of development to serve as the basis for the issuance of permits by all applicable Metro departments.

Zoning Letters: $100

Building Permit Review: $250

Administered by the Department of Codes and Building Safety