Planning & Development

The City of Harlingen Planning and Development Department guides the growth of the City and its extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) through land use policies, decisions, and regulations adopted by the Mayor and City Commission. The Planning and Development Department strives for everyone in the community to have a high quality of life, and a positive community environment through orderly growth.

The Planning and Development Department continually supports the City Commission, the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeals by drafting new ordinances, amending existing ordinances, and preparing agenda items and meeting packets.  The Department also coordinates the application processes for zoning changes, subdivision plats, voluntary annexations, and variance requests.

Meetings are regularly scheduled with developers and property owners to explain the development process and the city requirements.

The Planning and Development Department has an Updated Subdivision Ordinance and a New Subdivision Development Guide

The new subdivision ordinance can be found in the link below.
Chapter 109 - Ordinance Amendment - Adopted Version

A City of Harlingen Subdivision Development Guide is referenced in the new subdivision ordinance. The Subdivision Development Guide can be found in the link below.   

Subdivision Development Guide   

Development Information

Tips to Help You Navigate the City Of Harlingen Subdivision Process 

Planning & Development Meetings

The Planning & Development Department can organize meetings that allow you to meet and discuss your proposed project with the essential City Departments.

City Staff from Building Inspection, Planning & Zoning, Fire Prevention, Engineering, Environmental Health, Environmental Services, Public Works, Harlingen Water Works System, and Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) will be available to answer questions and discuss your proposal.

No building permits will be issued during these meetings. They are intended to help property owners and developers obtain information to prepare for permit submittal.

Please contact the Planning and Development Department to make an appointment at(956) 216-5101. You can also request your meeting by emailing the director at
Tentative time for developers meeting is Thursday’s at 2 p.m. but could be scheduled at other times during office hours. The meetings are also available on zoom if desired.

Starting a new Business in Harlingen  

Different businesses require different permits. Some businesses require Special Use Permits before a building permit can be issued. For more information on your business type please call the Planning and Development Department at (956) 216-5101.

There are 13 Zoning Districts throughout the City of Harlingen that are planned for different uses. Please see our Land Use Chart in order to determine if your proposed business is in the correct zone.

Before committing to purchasing or renting a property for a business location, we strongly recommend that you verify zoning and Special Use Permit requirements by calling the Planning & Development Department at (956) 216-5101.

Please have the address and, preferably, the legal description of the property on hand before you call to facilitate prompt and accurate information from the department. Without this information, the Planning & Development Department will not be able to give you the zoning information desired.

General Information

Sign Information
A Sign Permit will be required in order to display a sign for your business. The application for this permit is submitted to the Planning & Development Department, reviewed and routed to the Building and Inspections Department for their approval.
Banners smaller than 80 square feet do not require a Special Use Permit (SUP).

For any additional information, you may contact the Planning & Development Department at (956) 216-5101 and the Building and Inspections Department at (956) 216-5160.

Our new sign ordinance can be found here.

Fence Information
Fences over 7 feet high shall require a building permit. All solid face fences are subject to the sight triangle on a corner where a street or alley intersects with another. Please see our Fence Brochure for additional information.

Residential fences. Solid face front yard fences extending past the forward most portion of the house structure to the front and side lot property line shall be restricted to a height of not more than 40 inches above the grade of the yard.

Nonresidential fences. Solid face front yard fences may be maintained at a height of no more than six feet.

Home Occupation Information

A home occupation is a business occupation customarily carried on in the home by a member of the occupant's family.
Characteristics of home occupations include the following:

  • Does not involve the employment of additional persons,
  • Does not involve the use of an on-premises sign to advertise the occupation,
  • Does not involve offering any goods for sale on the premises and
  • Does not create unpleasant noise or other  unpleasant conditions to abutting residential property, such as odor, increased traffic congestion, light or smoke.    
A home occupation must maintain the residential character of the neighborhood.