Office of Planning and Development: Land Use Controls
Names and contact information for members of the Office of Planning and Development are found at the bottom of this page. Send an email for general inquiries about zoning matters, or call the OPD Service Counter at 901-636-6619. Zoning letter applications may be found on this page.
The Zoning Code
Download the current Unified Development Code (the "UDC"), which serves as the Zoning Code and Subdivision Regulations for the City of Memphis and unincorporated Shelby County.
UDC in a Nutshell. This two-page summary contains an overview of the most commonly used sections of the UDC.
Quick Guide to the UDC:
- What land uses are permitted on my property? The use table in Section 2.5.2 indicates which uses are permitted by zoning district (see zoning atlas for district boundaries). The use categories in Sec. 2.5.2 are generalized; for a more thorough listing of uses permitted by zoning district, go to Section 2.9. For some uses, such as day cares and cell towers, there are additional rules, or "use standards" that must be met, in addition to being in a the right zoning district. These use standards are found in Section 2.6 (see this graphic for cell tower regulations). Please note that some of the special purpose and overlay districts of Section 7 and 8 contain their own use tables; see this map for boundaries of these districts.
- What are the setback and height rules for buildings on my property? Section 3.6.1 contains what is called "bulk standards" for single-family residential uses permitted in the single-family zoning districts; Section 3.6.2 contains bulk standards for permitted, non-residential uses, such as schools and places of worship, in these districts. Please note that certain residential infill development is subject to special standards called "contextual infill standards" (see this graphic to help determine if your property is subject to the contextual infill standards of Section 3.9.2). Section 3.7.2 contains bulk standards for those residential uses permitted in the multi-family zoning districts; Section 3.7.3 contains bulk standards for permitted, non-residential uses in these districts. Section 3.10.2B contains bulk standards for apartments, offices, commercial and industrial uses in the office, commercial and industrial zoning districts; Section 3.10.2C contains the standards for single-family uses in these zoning districts. This table combines the use table of Section 2.5.2 and combines building setbacks, lot sizes and other bulk regulations. Please note that some of the overlay districts of Sections 7 and 8 contain their own bulk standards (for instance, see this map for areas subject to maximum setbacks).
- What are the setback and height rules for other buildings on my property? Sheds, granny flats, detached garages, etc. are considered "accessory structures." Section 2.7 contains regulations for these buildings (see this graphic for these rules in simplified form).
- Is my property located in a historic overlay district? This map includes the boundaries of the historic overlay districts governed by Section 8.6, which are also known as Landmarks Districts. This graphic answers frequently asked questions about these districts, which generally require action by the Landmarks Commission for exterior alteration to buildings.
- Does my proposed improvement to my property require landscaping or sidewalk improvements? The table in Section 4.1 lays out the types of construction that triggers various sections of the UDC, such as improvements to landscaping and sidewalks.
- How wide may my residential driveway be? Section 4.4.4 regulates residential driveway width and setbacks from property lines. See this graphic for width and this graphic for setbacks.
- How much parking do I need to provide? Section 4.5.3 contains parking ratios for particular uses (see this document that contains the parking ratio, parking reduction and handicap parking tables).
- How tall may my fence be? Section 4.6.7 deals with fence height and type (see this graphic for fence regulations in the single-family zoning districts).
- How large may my sign be? Section 4.9 contains the sign regulations.** (see this graphic for instructions on landscaping requirements at the base of signs)
- What if I need to rezone my property? Section 9 outlines the various approval processes of the UDC (see this graphic that outlines the timelines for these processes).
- What if I need to subdivide my property to create a new lot(s)? Section 9.7 contains rules related to subdivisions (see this tutorial on frequently asked questions related to lots of record and subdivision requirements).
- Will the Engineering Division review my proposal? Section 9.12.3B(3) lays out the types of construction that triggers review by City/County Engineering (see this graphic that may assist on determining whether your project requires Engineering review).***
**Under this written interpretation, any change in technology of a nonconforming billboard is prohibited.
***Refer to this flowchart for the final plat submittal process if City or County Engineering review is required.
UDC Blog: View the blog that chronicles the history of the amendments to the UDC.
Historic Zoning Codes: View the Zoning Codes and Maps that were adopted prior to the UDC.
Supportive Living Facilities: Federal law permits smaller supportive living facilities, such as halfway houses and drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities, to be located in single-family residences, regardless of local zoning regulations. However, all such facilities must be licensed by the State of Tennessee. This page provides a search tool for all licensed supportive living facilities.
Mobile Food Trucks: Download the mobile food truck ordinance. View the mobile food truck ordinance, as codified (Sec. 9-52-86 of the City of Memphis Code of Ordinances).
Short Term Rental Ordinance: Download the City's short term rental ordinance, also known as the "AirBnB ordinance" that stipulates that certain short term rental properties within the City of Memphis are exempt from the zoning regulations of the UDC.
MHA Urban Renewal Areas: Certain setbacks in Urban Renewal Areas once administered by the Memphis Housing Authority may only be waived by the Authority. This map shows the extent of these Urban Renewal Areas as of 1968.
Sanitary Sewers: View the City of Memphis' policy and letter from the City Engineer and Public Works Director, both dated August 18, 2017, regarding connections to its sanitary sewer system for properties outside of the Memphis corporate limits. This memo from the Planning Director estimates the number of developments potentially affected by this policy (here is a map of these developments). This revised memo contains more details, including the estimated tax assessment for each development potentially affected by this policy. Here is a powerpoint presentation made to the Public Works Committee on September 20, 2017, that covers the history of the Memphis sewer system.
Here is the City of Memphis policy with regard to sanitary sewer connections in the Fletcher Creek and Johns Creek Basins (see map of these basins here).
Maps and Zoning Atlas
- View the Zoning Atlas for Memphis and Shelby County.
- View a map showing the arterial and collector streets throughout Memphis and Shelby County. Various sections of the UDC reference arterial and collector streets. Access the homepage of the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization, which contains an interactive map showing these arterial and collector streets.
- Access the historic zoning atlases that were adopted prior to the UDC.
- View a map of the Overlay and Special Purpose districts throughout Memphis.
- Go to the "Application Forms" section below, then "Administrative Applications" to download an Overlay District application.
- For more information on the overlay districts, including materials related to the University District Overlay, go to the Zoning Atlas page.
View pending applications that have been filed with OPD.
Application Forms, Deadlines and Fees
Download various application forms.
See the OPD's annexation page, which contains maps and other materials related to annexation in Shelby County.
Land Use Controls Staff
125 N. Main Street, Ste. 468
Memphis, TN 38104
OPD Service Counter, 636-6619
Josh Whitehead, Administrator/Planning Director, 636-6619
Brett Ragsdale, Deputy Administrator, 636-6619
Chip Saliba, Manager, Land Use Controls, 636-6619
Brian Bacchus, Principal Planner, 636-6619
Don Jones, Principal Planner, 636-6619
Marion Jones, Municipal Planner, 636-6619
Jeffrey Penzes, Municipal Planner, 636-6619
Somer Smith, Municipal Planner, 636-6619
Ayse Tezel, Municipal Planner, 636-6619
Staci Tillman, Municipal Planner, 636-6619
Land Use Controls - East Office
6565 Mullins Station Road
Memphis, TN 38134
Burk Renner, Manager, East Office, 222-8381
Comments or suggestions on the helpfulness of this website should be emailed to Josh Whitehead.
Land Use Controls staff, August 18, 2017 (from left to right): Brian Bacchus, Kirstin Kettley (now Operations Manager at the Office of Construction Code Enforcement), Staci Tillman, Don Jones, Jeffrey Penzes, Ayse Tezel, Josh Whitehead, Marion Jones and Chip Saliba. Not pictured: Brett Ragsdale and Somer Smith.