Development in Santa Fe County is governed by the Sustainable Land Development Code and fees are assessed based upon the applicable Permit and Review Fees Ordinances. The following requirements must be met before beginning any development.
The proposed development must be allowed by the zoning of the property. Verify that the proposed development is allowed on your lot by checking its zoning. That information is available at the County’s Interactive Zoning Map. Using the zoning map application is the simplest way to discover the zoning district, the allowed density, whether the lot is in a traditional community or overlay district, etc. If your property lies within a community district, you can refer to the respective Community District Overlay Use Table in Chapter 9 of the Sustainable Land Development Code to determine what uses are allowed within your zoning district. If your property is not within a Community District, you can refer to the Use Matrix Table in Appendix B of the Sustainable Land Development Code to determine what uses are allowed in your zoning district.
Santa Fe County has specific requirements to allow development of any property. The property must be recognized by the County as a legal lot of record owned by the applicant. If you are the owner, you may authorize someone else to submit an application on your behalf. According to the SLDC, a Legal Lot of Record is defined as “a lot that was either legally created prior to January 1, 1981, or that was part of a subdivision or land division approved by the Administrator or the Board after January 1, 1981.” If the lot was created after January 1, 1981, the plat for the lot must show an approval by the Santa Fe County Land Use Administrator or the Board of County Commissioners. The fact that the parcel may be described in the County Assessor’s rolls is not sufficient to prove that the lot is a Legal Lot of Record, look for the Land Use Administrator or Board of County Commissioner’s signature on the plat. To verify the status of your lot, locate your property ownership documents that include your deed and plat. If you cannot locate these in your files, they should be recorded and available at the Office of the Santa Fe County Clerk.
After an application is received, the property must pass an inspection by a Code Enforcement Officer of the County to make sure that there is not debris or litter on the property. At the time of this inspection, the Code Enforcement Officer will verify that the property’s existing development has been properly permitted. All conditions that are not allowed must be corrected and re-inspected before the application processing for your project will proceed.
Before any development permit will be issued by the County, all existing unpermitted or improperly permitted development on the property must first be resolved. If the previous owner of the property built an unpermitted structure, for example, it will be necessary to process an after-the-fact permit for that structure before your proposed permit application will be processed. This will include submitting an application for the existing structure, providing the needed plans and drawings, payment of the fees (and a penalty) and verification of compliance with all current requirements. If the existing unpermitted development is not allowed by the property’s zoning, it may also require applying for and obtaining a variance for the existing development. If you think that there may be unpermitted or improperly permitted development on your lot, please stop in to or call to speak with one of our Development Review Specialists before beginning the application process. We are located on the second floor of the County Administrative Offices at 102 Grant Avenue and our main phone number is 505-986-6225.
Access roads and driveways must be built to allow access for emergency vehicles. These requirements include the minimum width and maximum slope of access roads and driveways. The access requirements are provided in Chapters 7 and 8 of the SLDC.
Maximum height requirements are generally described in Chapter 7 of the SLDC. They vary depending upon the nature of the proposed development, the zoning district, the slope of the adjacent terrain, and whether the property is in an overlay district or subject to a Community Plan. Minimum setback requirements for structures are also described in Chapter 7 and summarized in Table 7-A.
For any questions, please contact our main office at 505-986-6225 or the appropriate staff member listed on our Staff Directory page.