Permitted / Conditional Uses (+SEUs)

Permitted & other Uses Explained

Note the following does not supersede the provisions of City Code or the city’s Zoning Ordinance.

Commercial, industrial and residential uses of property located in the City of Three Rivers are generally classified and governed by five main classifications or types …some of which require special conditions be met and most require an approval from the city’s Zoning Official by way of an approved Zoning Permit¹.

With some exceptions (see further below), the 5 types of uses in the city are:

  • Permitted
  • Accessory
  • Conditional
  • Special Exception
  • Prohibited

Uses in general…

Permitted Accessory Conditional Special Exception Prohibited
allowed² (allowed under certain conditions) review + public hearing³ not allowed

Uses are further described in the following…

Permitted Uses

Permitted Uses are uses of property that can be established in a particular district (or districts) of the city.  While permitted uses are generally considered to be “allowed” (e.g., have a “green light”), they still need to conform to the district’s requirements and other regulations or standards.  Permitted uses do not require a formal public hearing to be conducted.  They do, however, require approval from the city’s Zoning Official (in most circumstances) by way of a zoning permit¹ application.

Note: businesses that clearly fall into a Permitted Use category for a specific zoning district can apply for a new-business zoning review — i.e., instead of filing a Zoning Permit¹ for a proposed new use to be established.  However, one or more Zoning Permits may still be required by a developer for other aspects of a new business — e.g., off-street parking, signage, building construction/additions, etc,..

Accessory Uses

Accessory Uses are uses that are clearly incidental to, but also customarily found in connection with or exclusively related to (but subordinate to) a principal use located on the same property.  A principal use is the main use of the building(s) or land, whether it be a Permitted or Conditional use.  Accessory uses require zoning approval by way of permit¹.

Conditional Uses

Conditional Uses are uses that, because of the unique potential issues that may come about, require certain limitations to be implemented.  The limits imposed are designed for the protection of the public welfare and safety, as well as the integrity of the City’s land use plan (as described in the current master plan).

Special Exception Uses

Also known (in other jurisdictions) as special land uses, SEUs are special uses with conditions that require a higher level of approval and an opportunity for public comment by way of public hearings.  SEUs are not only allowed only in specific zoning districts of the city, but are governed by a legal document (i.e., SEU permit) that is specific to the property and property or business owner.  Before being considered for approval, each SEU permit is subject to review, public input (by way of hearing) and consideration by Planning & City Commissions.  And, to to ensure all specified conditions are being met, SEUs are perpetual so long as the owner or use do not change, many are subject to periodic inspections, and some require annual SEU permit renewals.

Prohibited Uses

Uses that are not otherwise listed in the city’s Zoning Ordinance are considered prohibited — i.e., just because you can’t find it in the zoning ordinance doesn’t mean it is allowed².  Prohibited Uses are uses of a building or land which, in whole or in part, do not conform to the regulations of the district in which it exists, and which cannot be permitted or considered a a permitted non-conforming use.  Permitted or legal non-conforming uses are uses that were established prior to the codification of the original City of Three Rivers Zoning Ordinance in the 1900s.

Other Uses

Other uses similar to those listed, but not specifically defined, as “Permitted Uses” in the current Zoning Ordinance require a Zoning Permit¹ to be submitted and may be allowed based on Planning Commission approval.  In general, this provision is for permitted commercial uses (e.g., that which may be similar a business that conducts research or production services) and is specific to certain business (B-#) and industrial (I-#) zoning districts.


1 – Zoning Permits can be obtained from SAFEbuilt, at City Hall, or from our permit webpage.
2 – Allowed: while permitted uses are generally considered to be “allowed” (e.g., in a manner of speaking, they have a “green light”), they still need to conform to the district’s requirements and other regulations or standards.
3 – Hearings are scheduled, depending on meeting requirements and State regulations, with public notification typically a minimum of 15 – 21 days prior to the hearing.  For more info refer to our GTR page or flowchart.