Special Districts and Their Power

Updated: Aug 20, 2019



When it comes to special districts, and how they affect your planning and zoning, the important thing to know is that their permitting power only comes from the powers designated specifically by the State.


A special district is defined as any district that incorporates a separate form of government in order to provide public services to a specific area. A special district can be established to deliver any of a wide range of services including airports, highways, mass transit, parks, cemeteries, hospitals, irrigation, conservation, gas utility and more.

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Typically, special districts with utility permitting and plan review powers are associated with unincorporated areas. These MUDs (Municipal Utility Districts) provide access because they are not provided utilities through the City. Thus, the special districts are necessary in ensuring that these areas have civilized access. Because they are only granted specific powers from the state, they can only comment on site design issues with regards to the utilities they have been given control over.

Special districts associated within cities, such as PIDS (Public Improvement Districts) or City MUDs are utilized more as reimbursement mechanisms for a developer. These districts rarely have the power to review and approve utility plans.

Working with experts, like PRD Land Development, helps to avoid delays by being able to identify who ultimately has the power for the particular project at hand, and the specific requirements.


[1] http://www.blackmountainsoftware.com/2014/11/24/makes-special-districts-special/

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