Zoning & Subdivision Information Ordinance

City of Harlingen Zoning
Zoning is a tool that most cities throughout the U.S use to govern land uses (e.g. residential, commercial, or industrial), the size of buildings, and how buildings relate to their surroundings. Zoning has substantial implications for equity and public health. Zoning determines where various categories of land use may go, thereby influencing the location of resulting environmental and health impacts.
You can find our Zoning Ordinance here.

Subdivision Ordinance


Any person dividing or proposing to divide any tract of land situated within the corporate limits of the City of Harlingen or within the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) into one or more separate parcels (or changing previously existing legal boundaries in any way) must properly subdivide the property. Any person wishing to build on a lot which has not previously been properly subdivided must also subdivide unless the split took place before November 1, 1978 the day the subdivision ordinance was first adopted.

The purpose of the Code of Ordinances-Chapter 109 Subdivisions is to promote the public health of the city's residents, to ensure that adequate water and wastewater facilities are provided; to guide the future growth and development of the municipality; to provide safety from fire, flood, and other danger; and to provide adequate and efficient transportation.
City of Harlingen Zoning  FAQs
The city of Harlingen has thirteen (13) Zoning Districts throughout the city. For a visual representation, you can see our Zoning Map here.  
  1. Not Designated (N) – Areas not yet zoned and/or newly annexed (subdivided), except only for uses listed in section 111-62.
  2. Residential, Single Family (R-1) – Area for development primarily of single-family units, but with special uses as indicated in section 111-62.
  3. Residential, Duplex (R-2) –  Area for development of duplex-family units on lots no smaller than 6,000 square feet, but with special uses as indicated in section 111-62.
  4. Residential, Patio Home (R-PH) – Area for development of single-family and duplex-family units on lots no smaller than 4,000 square feet, but with special uses as indicated in section 111-62.
  5. Residential, Triplex and Quadruplex (M-1) – Area for development primarily of multifamily units of four or less, but with special uses as indicated in section 111-62.
  6. Residential, Multifamily (M-2) – Area for development primarily of multi-unit apartment buildings in excess of four units, condominiums, and connected townhouses and with specific additional uses indicated in section 111-62.
  7. Residential, Mobile Home (MH) – Districts for permanent location and use of mobile/modular homes as single-family dwelling units and with specific additional uses as indicated in section 111-62.
  8. Planned Development District (PD) – Area of a designated and approved size with an all-inclusive plan for development which may include any two or more classes of uses, which shall be filed as part of chapter 111 and shall be developed as outlined in section 111-332.
  9. Offices; Professional and Business Administration (O) – Area designed primarily for use as administrative offices and professional offices, and specific additional uses as indicated in section 111-62.
  10. Neighborhood Services (NS) – Area designed to serve the domestic needs of the immediate neighborhood and with specific additional uses indicated in section 111-62.
  11. General Retail (GR) – Area designated for the primary purpose of retail sales and specific additional uses indicated in section 111-62.
  12. Light industry (LI) – Light manufacturing processes which do not emit detectable dust, odor, smoke, gas, or fumes beyond the bounding property or generate noise or vibration at the boundary of the LI District which is generally perceptible as noise in the adjacent area.
  13. Heavy Industry (HI) – Area used primarily for industry that does not fall into light industry district designation, and which is not prohibited by law. 
Allowable use per Sec. 111-62 can be found here.
If you are considering rezoning a property, please contact with the Planning staff to discuss the proposed use of the property and appropriate zoning district for the request.
Planning staff notifies all property owners within 200 feet of the proposed rezoning and advertises notice in newspaper prior to hearing. Planning staff reviews the rezoning request with the Future Land Use Plan and the surrounding uses and zones.

The Planning & Zoning Commission conducts the first public hearing to present the staff recommendation and record neighborhood and applicant comments. After discussion, The Planning and Zoning Commission makes recommendation to City Commission on rezoning requests.
City Commission conducts the second public hearing to consider Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation and will approve or disapprove the rezoning request. 
Spot Zoning is “the process of singling out a small parcel of land for a use classification totally different from that of the surrounding area for the benefit of the owner of such property and to the detriment of other owners."
When considering spot zoning, courts will generally determine whether the zoning relates to the compatibility of the zoning of surrounding uses. Other factors may include; the characteristics of the land, the size of the parcel, and the degree of the “public benefit.”
Subdivisions FAQs
Is there an exemption from subdividing?

Property that was divided into its current configuration prior to November 1, 1978, and not had a change in boundaries since such time can be exempted if the owner provides proof and submits an application for Exemption Letter of Determination.

For the purpose of selling a property, an application may also be submitted if the property is more than five acres. 

Do I need to subdivide if I own a partial or a part of a subdivision?
A building permit may not be issued to a partial lot unless the split was made prior to November 1, 1978. A partial of a subdivision would need to re-subdivide or be made whole again. 
Is there an exemption from fire hydrants?
A single family home on a parcel 1 to 9.99 acres in size can submit a notarized Fire Hydrant Exemption
Can I get a variance to a certain subdivision regulation?
Variances from certain requirements may be recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission and granted by the City Commission when undue hardship will result from requiring strict compliance. The only variance that cannot be granted will be in the area of paving curb and gutter for subdivisions located within the city. The applicant must submit a Subdivision Variance Application at the time the preliminary plat is filed.
How long does the subdivision process take?
Subdivisions need to go through a subdivision review meeting and one public meeting. If the proposed development does not include new infrastructure, then it is typically one month. Preliminary and Final Plats may be submitted concurrently. If new roads or utilities are part of the subdivision, then the time depends on the time of construction.
How do I obtain an address for my property?
Addresses are created during the subdivision process and reference the legal description of the property. If you know where the property is located or know the Property ID, you can use the Cameron County Appraisal District's website to check if there is an existing address. If you need an address verification letter, please email one of our City Planners with the legal description or Property ID.