Planning FAQs

Planning FAQs

How do I check the zoning of my property?

You can verify what the zoning of your property is by reaching out to Rubin Jones ( or checking the city’s zoning map here.

How do I change the zoning of my property?

Any property owner within city limits has the right to request a rezone of their property. This is done through a rezone application and the application must go to the Planning Commission and City Council for consideration. Please set up a pre-application meeting with Planning Staff to discuss this process in depth prior to submitting a request.

Why is there a public hearing sign in my neighborhood?

A property owner in your neighborhood has requested one of the following: variance, rezone, or conditional use permit. You can verify what the request is here.  

Where can I find agenda packets for upcoming meetings?

You can find planning related agenda packets here.

Do fences require a permit?

If you are constructing a new fence, extending an existing fence, replacing a fence with different material, height, or location, or replacing more than 50% of an existing fence with the same material, height, and location; you will need a fence permit from Community Development.

Do I need a sign permit?

Certain types of temporary signs do not need a permit—you can find those here. Some do require a permit—those can be found here. However, all permanent signs need a permit from Community Development. Finally, the zoning code prohibits certain types of signs within city limits. Those can be found here.

Do I need a business license?

No. The City of Bella Vista does not currently require business licenses.

Can I operate a business from my home?

The zoning code allows certain types of operations to be conducted within the residential zone. To qualify for this allowance, please read the requirements here.  

How do I start the development process?

Any subdivision or development of anything other than a single family home or duplex will require a formal planning review. The first step this process is having a concept meeting with Planning Staff so they may determine which route the project will need to follow in order to be properly permitted. This may include a incidental subdivision, preliminary plat, large-scale development, or planned zoning district (master planned development). The developer should also have a concept meeting with the City Fire Inspector, City Building Official, and the Architectural Control Committee (for those developments that are within the Covenant requirements).

How do I subdivide my property?

Please set up a concept meeting with Planning Staff to determine what kind of subdivision process you need. This may be a lot split, property line adjustment, correction plat, minor subdivision, or preliminary plat/final plat. Depending on the type of application you need, the process may vary. Planning Staff can confirm with you at a concept meeting.

Do I need a grading/clearing permit?

Grading permits are intended to prohibit excessive and/or indiscriminate clearing and excavation activity that creates flooding and soil erosion problems and to ensure the ground is properly stabilized after such activity. A permit is required in the following common situations:

  • Clearing or excavating activity of any size as the City of Bella Vista oversees lots that are less than one acre in disturbance.
  • Tree removal that causes ground disturbance/erosion (pushing stumps over, ripping tree roots out of the ground, etc.) (Stump grinding does not require a permit so long as the ground is not disturbed.)
  • Landscape work that may require fill or alteration of the natural topography.
  • Any activity that will change the natural lay of the land—adding fill (soil, dirt, rock), cutting into the earth, moving earth, and more.


What is a right-of-way and who can access it?
A right-of-way (ROW) is a dedicated area of land intended to provide the legal right of use to the public, which may include streets, crosswalks, sidewalks, trails, watermains, internet/phone cables, sanitary sewers, storm drains, or any other use involving a public or utility company.

Think of it this way: Utilities, such as water lines, must have access to traverse the city for that utility to be provided to residents citywide. If one lot didn’t have any easement or ROW area, a utility may not be able to get through to the other side of it to reach lots beyond.

So – even if you don’t subscribe to the company whose utility lines run along your property (like a cable company) your neighbor and their neighbor might, and therefore they are provided access legally via the ROW.

There are two kinds of rights-of-way:

  • Dedicated: A dedicated space between lot lines (typically 40 feet for residential roads in Bella Vista) in which the ROW lies.
  • Prescriptive: Area of the roadway that lies outside of the platted ROW. If the surface of a road lies outside the dedicated ROW, the roadway and a certain number of feet beyond it becomes a prescriptive ROW.
For more information and other facts about ROW, see some common questions and answers here.