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Masterplan participates in public briefing before advocating in public hearings.
Masterplan participates in public briefing before advocating in public hearings.


Zoning is the regulation of land use districts by local government. Zoning regulations determine land use, height, setbacks, lot size, density, coverage, and floor area ratio.

These powers given to cities by the state and are used by cities to help ensure land use compatibility.

Masterplan represents property owners, who need to change the zoning on property,
The zoning process requires public hearings at the Plan Commission (P&Z in some cities) and the City Council level. Notices are mailed to area property owners within a certain radius of the property in order to notify them of the public hearings and to get there input.

Since 1981, Masterplan has represented thousands of landowners in public hearings all across the state of Texas, managing over 3,500 zoning cases, and securing more than 5,000 building permits. It has the individual and collective experience to serve you.
Permitting covers assistance with building code compliance, inspections, platting, signage and abandonments. This includes permit expediting and project pre-development coordination.

Masterplan will obtain the required permits for commercial or residential development. This may include permits for new construction, remodeling, demolition, tree removal, addendum, or sign permits .

It will coordinate all submittal items and work with local government officials until the permit is released.
In addition to each of the permitting services listed above, Masterplan can also assist with third party energy code plan review and inspections, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Texas Accessibility Standards Plan reviews and inspections, and engineering plan reviews.

Also, addressing, water plan review, three way contracts, early release for permitting, public works inspections, health plan review and inspections, water authority approvals fire plan review and inspections, development impact review, and residential adjacency review.
Lobbying is the exertion of influence and the use of strategy to facilitate specific municipal actions, impact economic development, and secure government contracts.

Masterplan’s team of experienced consultants and battle-hardened city hall veterans has served both private clients and public agencies
in all types of matters requiring governmental approval.

Whether contractual, statutory, or procedural, Masterplan works hard to keep the economic engine of Texas humming, including using its influence to secure air rights and other licenses.
Service Terms and Areas of Representation available from Masterplan:

Represent clients who wish to expedite the city's abandonment, franchise or private license processes.

This and de-annexations is how a city either increases or decreases its’ City Limit. The Annexation process is somewhat time consuming and has a set state mandated process to be followed. Studies are required showing how an annexed tract can be served by the City and several Public Hearings are required.

Board of Adjustment Representation
The Board of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial board with specific rules prohibiting interaction with Board members and requiring super-majority votes for approval. This process also requires a public hearing, notices to mailed to area property owners and a sign posted on the property.

Building Code Services
Evaluation of building and/or other codes for their impact on development or construction for your site. This can include analyzing construction plans, site plans, or other documents as they relate to obtaining permits.

Building Permit (see Permitting)

Certificate of Occupancy
Serves as a license to do business at a specified location within city limits for a particular use. Obtaining a CO involves city inspections of a building's structure, plumbing, electrical systems, and its compliance with zoning and parking regulations.

A CO permit is valid for as long as your business operates in that permitted location. COs do not require a renewal.

Government entities have the right to condemn (take) land for public purposed; this includes public right of way, utility easements and even land for public buildings.

The condemnation process is state mandated and requires just compensation to the landowner. The compensation can be a matter for disagreement. (See Site Impact Analysis)

Conditional Use Permit (see Special or Specific Use Permit)

Due Diligence
This research investigates several aspects on the development, existing rights and conditions of a tract of land. Information includes among other things; existing zoning, infrastructure availability, surrounding uses and zoning and possibly an investigation of existing structures on a site as they relate to existing zoning regulations.

This is a critical project component; a service provided every Masterplan client.

When obtaining energy related approvals whether in the oil/gas field or energy production/distribution fields Masterplan has a track record of success, whether resolving critical land use issues, securing right-of-ways or seeking land entitlements.

Expert Witness
Expert knowledge of existing zoning, building and other codes are important in providing support for negotiation, mediation and litigation of real estate and zoning issues.

A thorough knowledge of the myriad of codes and regulations provides backup support to attorneys if issues can only be resolved through that process.

Land Use Consultation
Working with various government entities, at all levels, in obtaining and/or preserving entitlement for the use of real property.

At Masterplan this includes research/evaluation of existing rights/limits for sites in order to assist in evaluation/analysis for purchase/sale or development.

Land Use Studies
The Masterplan staff have successfully conducted and completed a variety of land use studies. Previous plans include TEA-21 projects.

North of Dallas, Masterplan completed an update to the town of Prosper’s master plan and currently provides planning services to Pearland, south of Houston.

Staff assisted residents of Ft. Garland, Colorado obtain over $300,000 to construct a new pedestrian hike & bike trail. Staff was also successful in securing over $700,000 for the construction of storm drainage and main street improvements for San Luis, Colorado.

Assistance for individuals or companies in obtaining alcohol, lottery or other required licenses from government agencies is available through Masterplan’s affiliate company, LaBarba Permit Service. For more information, click here.

Non-conforming Uses
This relates to the existing use of a property that does not conform (allowed) to the existing zoning. This normally occurs when an existing use located on a site is no longer allowed because the zoning was changed.

It can happen when a city changes the zoning on a site along with others because of an area wide rezoning or and individual site was changed by an owner and the then existing use remained in place. Normally non-conforming uses are ‘grandfathered’ and are allowed to remain in place but not allowed to expand and if they leave or close for a certain amount of time are not allowed to reoccupy the site.

Some cities allow the Board of Adjustment (after hearings) to amortize a non-conforming use and make it shut down. A time period is established to recoup an investment left in the use since it became non-conforming.

This is different than a use/structure that does not conform to the development standards (height, setback, etc.) for the zoning on which it is located. This happens like a non-conform use but it is not subject to amortization by the Board of Adjustment.

Masterplan became the first company to reinstate grandfathered parking spaces on lower Greenville Avenue for two property owners in Dallas.

Planned Development District (PD)
Needing to amend a planned development district (PD), or implement a planned development district? Masterplan has the experience to represent you.

This includes preparing the application and all appropriate paperwork. This is often a complicated and time-consuming process.

Masterplan provided a PD for the Victory Park, Preston Hollow Village, Rosewood Court, Pinnacle Park in Dallas and many others across the state.

Masterplan will represent you at all required public hearings with the planning & zoning commissions and city council. If necessary, we will facilitate and conduct neighborhood meetings to discuss the proposed zoning change.

Masterplan will also work with city staff to ensure all revisions and supplemental information is completed.

This is the process of establishing a building site by combining or reconfiguring existing lots or unplatted tracts of land. In most instances this is a two-step process with a Preliminary Plat and a Final Plat. A plat is prepared by a land surveyor under strict guidelines established by the state and each municipality.

This process may include a public hearing at each step but in many instances can be approved by the staff. The process for the most part is considered as administrative with limited or no interaction with appointed or elected officials.

The exception to this rule is residential replats that require public hearings and notification of surrounding property owners much like a zoning case.

Plats & Replats (See Subdivision Applications)

Political Representation
Masterplan offers experienced consultants and battle-hardened city hall veterans to serve both private clients and public agencies in all types of matters requiring governmental approval.

Private License
Representing clients who wish to expedite the city's private license, franchise, abandonment, air rights or processes is another service offered by Masterplan’s experienced staff.

Site Impact Analysis
Studies can be conducted to better establish the impact a condemnation (taking) will have on the development of a site and what affect the taking may have on the existing development.

The impact on a site may be obvious with just vacant land taken, but the impact on existing development or future development and development rights must be explored in order to establish the correct amount of compensation.

Special Exception
A special exception is another action approved by the Board of Adjustment to allow certain exceptions to the development standards without the property hardship constraint.

Special Use Permit (SUP)
Specific Use Permit (SUP)
Allows special or specific additional uses under certain circumstances. Sometimes called a Conditional Use Permit, it usually requires a Site Plan and very specific regulations/conditions for this site-specific zoning.

In most cities this is the same or very similar to the process required for a zoning change, it is NOT a permit, like a building permit, not can be issued over-the-counter.

SUPs are often required for batch plants, the sale or manufacture of alcohol, schools, dance halls and numerous other circumstances. These permits allow an additional land use to operate on a property under a specific set of conditions.

Whether your municipality styles this circumstantial permit as Special, Specific or Conditional Use, you can rely on Masterplan whose consultants have obtained nearly 1,000 SUPs for property owners since 1981.

Subdivision Applications
Residential and commercial properties may require a subdivision application with a local municipality. This may include a plat or replat application.

Masterplan coordinates submittal requirements and signatures for the preliminary or final plat procedures. We will present and defend applications as the planning and zoning commission or city council considers them.

TABC Permits
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) offers more than 70 liquor permits and beer licenses. It is a complex bureaucracy with byzantine rules further complicate by the actions of the Texas Legislature.

Expert representation and guidance through the process is available through Masterplan’s affiliate company, LaBarba Permit Service, a family-owned business established in 1965.

For more information, click here.

Masterplan often coordinates local building permitting and health code issues, while LaBarba works with TABC to meet state requirements.

Tax Abatement
Abatement is a reduction in the level of taxation faced by a business or an individual. Abatement can include a tax decrease, a reduction in penalties, or a rebate.

If either overpays its taxes or receives a tax bill that is excessive, Masterplan can request abatement from the tax authorities.

Tax Financing Districts, Public Import Districts and 380 Agreements are commonly worked on by Masterplan’s consulting team.

Traffic Studies
Analysis of traffic impact design and analysis of traffic and parking systems as they may affect a commercial or residential development.

It is the movement of passengers and products from one location to another. Types include air, rail, road, water, cable and pipeline. Transportation consists of infrastructure, vehicles and operations.

Infrastructure consists of fixed installations that include roads, railways, airways, and pipelines. Terminals include warehouses and those for air, rail, bus, truck and refueling.

Vehicles traveling on these networks may include automobile, bus, train, truck, and air.

Operations deal with the way vehicles are managed. Procedures set for this purpose including financing, procedures, and regulations.

Masterplan has expertise in all manner of transportation, having worked on both Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Love Field airport.

The firm regularly works on rail projects, distribution centers, fleet carriers, and auto dealerships. Clients include American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Union Pacific, Megabus and the Dallas Inland Port.

Masterplan consultants have experience in representing individuals and business before government bodies and agencies when transportation policy and regulation are at issue.

This Board of Adjustment action allows variances to the existing development regulations for a site; including setbacks, height, lot coverage and parking. Variances require a property hardship; i.e. lot width, slope of the land, or other physical constraints. These cannot be economic hardship.

Zoning Ordinance Amendments
Prepare draft language on proposed ordinance amendments before city staff, zoning commissions and city councils.

Masterplan consultants have been employed as representatives of DART, Verizon Wireless, Oncor, Southwestern Bell Telephone, Dallas Independent School District and others across Texas.

They have also crossed Texas to serve cities with municipal work:
(1) Completed a plan review for Pearland, assisting city staff on the process
(2) Prepared city code on cell towers for the city of Whitehouse
(3) Readied a fair housing, multi-family ordinance for Flower Mound
(4) Updated the Comprehensive Plan for Prosper.
Masterplan Texas

From Start to Satisfaction℠

Led by CEO Dallas Cothrum, our practice is divided into three sections: (1) zoning and land use, (2) building code and permitting, and (3) lobbying and economic development.
The largest sector of work is zoning and land use cases. This section includes due diligence and providing information to adjacent stakeholders on other zoning requests in addition to zoning applications done on our client's behalf.

Masterplan can help with Transportation infrastructure

DART light rail showcases Masterplan’s transportation savvy.