Frequently Asked Questions

More Grow Granite Pages

What codes are enforced by the City?
How does the City plan for growth?
What is a comprehensive plan?
What is annexation?
What is zoning?
What is a special use permit?
What is a rezoning?
What does the Planning Commission do?
What is the Board of Appeals?
What happens at a public hearing?
What is a variance?
What if I want to subdivide my property?
What is a grading and excavation permit?
When do I need a building permit?
What permits are generally needed to work on an existing building?
What permits are typically needed for a new building?
What inspections are typically required for new construction or renovation projects?
What restrictions are there for me to put up a fence on my lot?
What zone district is my house in and how do I find out if I am in a flood plain?
How do I find out where my property lines are? What and where is right-of-way?
Why do we need a property maintenance code? What is an occupancy permit?
What are the current Department Fees?

What codes are enforced by the City?

Many of the Codes that the City enforces are nationally recognized standards which help the City regulate the minimum health and safety requirements for new and existing buildings, structures, and property. These Codes may seem overwhelming but working with an experienced or knowledgeable architect, engineer, or contractor should make the process easier. In addition, the Department is available to assist you in finding ways to comply with all applicable codes in a way that is reasonable and still meets the intent of the codes.

Building and Development Codes Currently in Effect:

   • Building Code: 2012 International Building Code 
   • Mechanical Code: 2012 International Mechanical Code 
   • Plumbing Code: Latest Illinois State Plumbing Code 
   • Electrical Code: 2011 National Electrical Code 
   • Fire Code: 2006 International Fire Prevention Code 
   • Handicap Accessibility Guidelines: Latest Illinois Accessibility Code 
   • 2012 International Existing Building Code 
   • 2012 International Property Maintenance Code
   • 2012 International Residential Code
   • Granite City Zoning Code 

How does the City plan for growth?

Development is beneficial to any community. However, development that is haphazard, or not properly managed, can put a strain on municipal services such as streets, sewers, and police. Unmanaged growth can lead to incompatible uses, traffic congestion, and a greater financial burden on taxpayers. Growth management efforts are taking place in many other communities experiencing rapid growth. Many of these communities, which feel overwhelmed by the pace of change and are concerned about the impact on their schools and infrastructure, have taken proactive steps to implement land use policies that guide type, location, and rates of development.

The City of Granite City, too is attempting to deal with growth in a responsible way. Some examples of these "smart growth" policies include encouraging development in areas with adequate infrastructure, focusing on targeted development incentives, ensuring new developments are built in conjunction with the natural environment, and revitalizing downtown.

What is a comprehensive plan?

Planning for the growth of the City is an important process in creating and maintaining a desirable atmosphere. By creating a well-planned community, the City's economic vitality is enhanced, making it a better place to live and shop. The forethought and planning the City is currently engaged in, coupled with the high standards placed on residential and commercial development will help ensure the community has quality growth that will be sustainable into the future.

The Comprehensive Plan is a tool used to guide growth and development within the City. The Comprehensive Plan is a community effort facilitated by the Planning Commission that lays out guidelines on how the community would like to grow and how to achieve that growth. The Plan takes a look at the community's strengths and weaknesses in an effort to address the development and redevelopment issues affecting the City. This in-depth analysis helps anticipate future issues or trends, and it lays out the land use plan that helps mold future growth and development.

The Comprehensive Plan provides an assessment of the physical and economic base of the City by providing a land use plan, census data, population projections, economic information, capital improvement plans, and much more. Other issues addressed in the Plan include balancing the demand for development with our current resources so not to overburden the schools and city services; continuing to work to maintain and strengthen the relationship with the Tri-City Port District; attracting other employers to diversify our work force; redevelopment of areas in possible decline; and protecting our environment and maintaining the high quality of life within the community.

Anyone interested in how the City is growing or in actually developing a project should consult the Comprehensive Plan for information and guidance. Copies of the Plan can be obtained at the Building & Zoning Department located on the bottom floor of City Hall.

What is annexation?

To continue to grow, the City will need to expand its boundaries to include previously unincorporated properties. The haphazard annexation of territory without a plan can lead to inefficient service delivery, thereby causing residents to pay more for the services they receive. It is vital for any annexation to be in the best interest of both the City and the property owner. Granite thinks it is more beneficial to all if annexation, like any growth, is accomplished according to a well-conceived plan. The City desires to annex those future areas it can efficiently and naturally service.

Unincorporated residents annexing to the City will receive comprehensive police protection, substantially lower water rates, and street maintenance in exchange for paying City taxes. The decrease in water rates and possibly home insurance, along with increased services, will most likely offset any new property taxes.

In some cases annexation is contingent on the property owners and the City agreeing to certain terms or conditions. Issues could be the time schedule of providing water or sewer, certain zoning classification of property, or proposed development plans.

Sometimes, the City may enter into pre-annexation agreements with property owners that may not be annexed for some time. These agreements, which are binding for twenty (20) years, is a commitment between both the City and the property owner to annexation according to agreed upon terms.

After the City and property owner agree to all terms, the City Council will review and adopt an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to sign the agreement. At this point, the property owner will either annex or the agreement will be recorded with the County and used when the property becomes contiguous to the City limits.

For a closer look at annexation, click here.

What is zoning?

Presently, your property is located within a zoning district and governed by a zoning ordinance. Examples of some zoning districts are agriculture, single family residential, office commercial, and light industrial. The zoning ordinance regulates what types of uses are permitted and how a property can be developed within a particular district. The zoning ordinance has requirements such as building height, minimum lot area, setback lines, off-street parking, landscaping, signage, and other related considerations.

Zoning is one of the most important tools for promoting orderly development. It is the City's zoning that determines the location and the type of commercial and residential development that can be located on a piece of property. By predetermining the placement of certain types of developments through the Comprehensive Plan, zoning code, and subdivision code, the City tries to prevent potential conflicts, declining property values, traffic problems, and safety hazards.

Before beginning construction on any building or structure, the building and site development plans need to be reviewed by the City to ensure compliance to the zoning requirements. Property owners must complete and submit a Building Permit Application to the Building & Zoning Department. In addition to the application, property owners are asked to submit information about the use of the building, legal description of the property, and site plan showing the layout of the structure on the lot. A "Certificate of Zoning Compliance" will be issued if the proposed building or structure meets the land use requirements of the zoning ordinance. The building permit application cannot be approved if the proposed structure does not meet the requirements stated in the zoning ordinance. However, the applicant does have the option of applying for a variance, special use permit or a rezoning. Assistance is available from Building & Zoning personnel to help you determine which course of action would be most appropriate.

What is a Special Use Permit?

In addition to the permitted uses available in each district, there are also certain special uses. Special uses are types of developments that are viewed to be supportive of the existing land use in certain zoning districts. Special Use Permits are designed to give flexibility to the community and property owners to allow for other compatible uses within a particular zoning district. Because these uses are not always compatible with the surrounding neighborhood because of traffic, noise, or other issues, certain proposed developments must obtain a special use permit to ensure its compatibility among neighboring land uses. Examples include home day care facilities and airport zoning related uses in the noise or accident potential zones.

For any development that is considered a special use, property owners must apply for a Special Use Permit available through the department. The property must be zoned for the proposed use and identified in the zoning ordinance. The proposed development will be reviewed by the Plan Commission when it goes before a public hearing to allow for community input. The Plan Commission will make the decision regarding applicable special uses. The City Council has a 21 day period to review the Commission's decision and may either reaffirm, modify or overturn their decision.

What is a rezoning?

Property owners sometimes want to use their property in a way that is not allowed as a special, planned, or permitted use under its current zoning but is permitted in a different zoning district. For example, if a property is zoned as single family residential and the property owners want to convert the house into an office, the owner must first request that the property be rezoned.

Rezonings will be weighed as a benefit to the community and not merely to the property owner. To rezone a property, the owner must notify neighboring property owners within 300 feet and present their case during a public hearing before the Plan Commission explaining how the original zoning was in error or how the conditions have changed to such an extent to warrant a rezoning. Members from the Plan Commission will provide an on-site review for the impact to neighboring land uses, safety issues and compatibility to the Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission then develops a recommendation that is forwarded to the City Council. The final decision on the rezoning will be voted on by the City Council.

What does the Plan Commission do?

The Plan Commission is designed to be the first step in the review of development and zoning proposals brought before the City. This eleven member advisory board of volunteer Granite City residents provides recommendations on all proposed developments, annexations, zoning changes, special uses and variances to the Board of Appeals and the City Council. The Commission makes its recommendations based on information gathered through on-site reviews, public hearings and local ordinances. The evaluations are based on the criteria established in both the Land Subdivision Control Ordinance and the Zoning Ordinance. The Commission meets the first Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall, and all meetings are open to the public.

What is the Board of Appeals?

The Board of Appeals was established by the City Council to provide a means by which any person aggrieved by any decision or order of the Zoning Administrator in any matter related to the interpretation or enforcement of any provision of the zoning ordinance may appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Every appeal shall be made within fifteen (15) days of the matter complained of by filing with the Administrator and the Board of Appeals a written notice specifying the grounds for appeal.

Not more than five (5) working days after the notice of appeal has been filed, the Administrator shall transmit to the Board of Appeals all records pertinent to the case.

After such time the Board of Appeals will conduct a public hearing in which each party may present their case. Following each presentation, the Board will discuss the matter and may ask questions to each party. The Board’s decision will be forwarded as a recommendation to the City Council for an official decision. The Board’s regular meeting time is set for the first Wednesday of each month, but they may schedule additional meetings at any time.

For more information on appealing to the Board of Appeals, see Article 9.1 & 9.3 in the Zoning Ordinance.

What happens at a public hearing?

The purpose of public hearings is to provide an opportunity for citizens to provide and receive information associated with decisions to be made by the Plan Commission, Board of Appeals and City Council. These governing bodies rely on the information gathered at the public hearings to provide a comprehensive view on how the proposed development or rezoning will impact the entire community. Public hearings are not intended to be confrontational or an intimidating process, but are intended to gather valuable information to aid in the decision-making process.

What is a variance?

Sometimes it is difficult for property owners to comply when building or altering a structure with the strict requirements of the zoning ordinance without experiencing undue financial hardship. Property owners can appeal to the Plan Commission for a variance to the strict interpretation of the zoning ordinance. For example, variances could include a reduction of the required feet of a rear set back line because of the way a lot is shaped. To apply for a variance, property owners need to complete an application explaining the hardship. Notice must be sent to the neighbors living within 300 feet of the property requesting the variance. During the public hearing, property owners may present topographical maps, engineering reports, photos or letters to substantiate the need for a variance to the City's requirements.

If you believe you need a variance for your project, we encourage you to call the office to schedule a meeting with department staff to review your project prior to application for a variance.

What if I want to subdivide my property?

One of our top priorities is to ensure subdivisions are developed according to good design practices. By setting standards for the subdivision of land, the City intends to provide for services and utilities, safe convenient access, and a desirable and attractive living environment. Anyone wishing to subdivide their property into two or more parts with the intent of transferring ownership or development must first meet the community requirements set forth in the Land Subdivision Control Ordinance. Examples of some issues include the grading and construction of streets and other public utilities, emergency vehicle access, availability of green space, and the avoidance of overcrowding conditions.

Applicants will need to submit copies of the plan, proof of ownership, survey plat of property, and final plat with the "Application for Subdivision" to the Building & Zoning Department for review. The application will be reviewed internally between engineering and our department and fire and police, if needed, prior to being submitted to the Plan Commission for their review and recommendation. After the Plan Commission recommendation, the preliminary subdivision plat will then go before the City Council for final action.

Subdivision of Land - Preliminary Plat Process
Concept Review

   • Review concept with Department personnel
   • Applicant prepares concept plan
   • Applicant meets with Planning and Engineering personnel for feedback
   • Applicant submits conceptual plat for review
   • Departmental review and recommendation

Preliminary Plat Approval Process

   • Applicant submits preliminary plat sealed by Illinois certified professional engineer
   • Review by City staff
   • Submitted to Plan Commission for review and recommendation
   • Recommendation then submitted to Economic Development Committee review prior to 
        consideration by the City Council.
   • Council then approves, rejects, or recommends modification to the preliminary plat which, if
        approved, is recorded with the City Clerk's office.

Subdivision of Land - Final Plat Process
Final Plat Approval Process

   • Applicant submits final sealed plat and improvement plans, if required
   • City staff reviews for staff report
   • Submitted to Economic Development Committee for review prior to consideration by City Council.
   • Council approves, rejects, or modifies the final plat.
   • Mayor will sign plat after approval and after all other appropriate signatures
   • After Recording with the County, applicant must submit reproducible mylar copy of recorded plat
        and three copies of recorded plat. The Department retains original recorded ordinance

What is a grading and excavation permit?

A grading and excavation permit must be obtained prior to any clearing, stripping, excavating, filling, grading, construction, or other activity involving the disturbance of the natural terrain or vegetative ground cover. This permit process intends to alleviate the harmful and damaging effects of on-site erosion and silt deposition on neighboring properties. These permits may be implicitly included with a normal building permit approval or approval of a final subdivision plat, or they may be applied for separately for any other type of grading or excavation.

When do I need a building permit?

In addition to new construction, anyone wishing to renovate, remodel or add onto their business or home will need to apply for a building permit when making significant changes to the structure. A building permit is also required for any existing structure that changes use. Examples could include: installing an in-ground or above ground pool, building an additional room, basement finishing, or building a deck. Other significant changes could include new or additional framing, foundation work, electrical or plumbing work. Building Permits are also required for fences.

What permits are generally needed to work on an existing building?

Building Permit:
Anyone who wishes to build new, renovate, remodel or change the usage of his or her property will first need to submit a plan to be reviewed by the Building & Zoning Department. Some items included with the application for the building permit are the legal description and parcel ID, existing and proposed usage, zoning, cost of improvement and square footage.

A sketch plan will also have to be submitted showing the layout and dimensions of the structure. This is easily completed for small building or remodeling projects. Square footage and setback requirements from property lines are determined by zoning. For those converting residential property to commercial, remodeling or renovation will have to make all places of public accommodation accessible to the disabled.

Swimming Pools:
Any swimming pool, above or below ground, or any hot tub or spa with 24 inches or more of water requires a building permit. The purpose of this permit, required by the building code, is to ensure that these units are set-up and operated in a safe manner, protecting the health, safety and welfare of our residents. Also, pools are considered accessory structures and cannot be any closer than 6 feet to the side and/or rear property line.

Portable or inflatable pools pose the same serious risk of electrocution and drowning as permanent back yard pools, hot tubs and spas. The City strictly enforces all electrical requirements and barrier requirements on new and existing pools. We feel very strongly about our duty to ensure pools are safe for our residents, particularly when so often the victims of pool tragedies are small children.

Electrical Permit:
Business owners and residents must obtain an electrical permit prior to rewiring, significant remodeling, or renovation work. A plan will need to be submitted indicating items such as usage, location of outlets, and service size. Improper or inadequate wiring presents a serious threat to the health, safety and welfare of residents, customers and other property owners.

Plumbing Permit:
A plumbing permit is needed for property owners who are renovating, remodeling or adding new plumbing to the structure. Plumbing inspection appointments need to be scheduled to allow the inspector two (2) business days to conduct the inspection.

Razing Permit:
This permit will need to be obtained before the demolition of any structure. Neighboring property owners are required to be notified and a written release from all utility companies is needed before a permit can be approved. Inspections both before and after the demolition will need to be scheduled.

What permits are typically needed for a new building?

For new commercial and residential developments, a building permit application, along with building plans and a site plan, will need to be submitted to the department for review. The plans will be reviewed for zoning compliance and meeting the standards of development as set by the community.

Some plans will be reviewed during the department's site plan review meetings which involves the collaboration of others such as the Engineering, Fire and Police Departments. By involving other departments in the process, the City gets a comprehensive view on how the development will impact the community. The City may require plans for the larger, more complex buildings to be reviewed by an outside professional code consulting firm at the owner's expense. Other permits may need to be obtained in addition to a building permit.

What inspections are typically required for new construction or renovation projects?

Inspecting the construction, renovation or remodeling of your property assures compliance to the minimum standards as adopted by the City. The typical required City building inspections include, at a minimum, the following, each of which must be called in to our office by the permit holder or his designee:

Footing Inspections:
Commonly made before poles or piers are set, or after trenches or basement areas are excavated and forms erected and any required reinforcing steel is in place, and prior to the placing of concrete. All property corners must be located and clearly marked for this inspection. This is required to ensure all zoning setback requirements are met.

Foundation or Basement Wall Inspections:
Made after footing and drain tile system (when required) are in place and when foundation or basement wall forms are in place. All reinforcing steel and any designed structural elements must be in place. This inspection must be made before any concrete placement.

Framing & Masonry Inspections:
Made after the roof, masonry, all framing, firestopping, and bracing are in place and all electrical, plumbing, heat ducts, vents, chimneys, and other equipment are installed, complete, or roughed in, and prior to concealment.

Rough Plumbing, Electrical and Mechanical Inspections:
Usually made at the same stage of construction completion as the framing and masonry inspection, made prior to the concealment of the electrical, plumbing, ducts, vents, chimneys, and other equipment by insulation and drywall and before the fixtures are set.

Lath or Wallboard Inspections (Drywall or Gypsum Board):
Made after all lathing or wallboarding of the interior is in place, but before any plastering is applied or before the wallboard joints and fasteners are taped and finished.

Public Pre-Sidewalk Inspection:
Made after excavation, placement of forms and base preparation, and prior to placing of concrete. Not less than twenty-four (24) hours notice must be given by the owner or builder when requesting an inspection and allow at least until the end of the following work day for any required inspection(s).

Final Inspection - Structural, Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, and Infrastructure:
Final Inspection is made after the building is completed and ready for occupancy, but before occupancy. House numbers attached, sidewalks, and final yard grading must be completed prior to occupancy.

What restrictions are there for me to put up a fence on my lot?

For a summary of fence restrictions, see the following page.
Fences, Walls, and Hedges

What zone district is my house in and how do I find out if I am in a flood plain?

You may either come into the office to locate your property on the zoning map or fax us the address and parcel ID number so we can locate the property correctly. We will fax the reply back to you so you have a written record of the correct zoning. Our fax number is (618) 452-6246.

The City can not tell you whether your property is located in a floodplain or not because of liability issues; however, the City can help locate your property on the FEMA floodplain map.

Floodplain issues can be complex. Often our Department may need to schedule an appointment to discuss each individual situation. Please call ahead to ensure adequate time will be available for your particular circumstance.

How do I find out where my property lines are? What and where is the right-of-way?

You can usually locate property stakes in and around your yard. If you cannot locate the pins in your yard, the department suggests you contact the developer (if in a new subdivision) or a professional surveyor for assistance.

Another method that can be used to estimate where your front property line is located by calling the City for the right-of-way (ROW) width for the street your property is located on. The ROW is a strip of land in which all public roads are located. The ROW includes not only the pavement width of the roadway, but in most instances, includes public utilities and sidewalks.

Once you know the right-of-way width, you can measure from the center of the street to a distance of ½ of the right-of-way width. This is where your front property line is generally located. As a rule of thumb, your property line is approximately one foot behind a sidewalk in most subdivisions.

Before you call the City to obtain right-of-way information, it is best that you have a legal description or parcel number for your property.

Why do we need a property maintenance code? What is an occupancy permit?

Granite City desires to preserve the quality of its housing and protect its residents and neighborhoods from deterioration, which threatens the health, safety, and welfare of the entire community, by providing a comprehensive property maintenance code. One of the biggest investments you will make is the purchase of your home. Properly maintained homes and neighborhoods can protect you and your family from unnecessary decreasing property values or hazardous conditions.

The Property Maintenance Code is a nationally recognized standard in which the City can regulate the minimum health and safety requirements for existing buildings, structures, and property. To provide guidance for inspections, the City relies on the 2003 International Property Maintenance Code, which establishes standards for the upkeep of neighborhoods and prevents public nuisances such as accumulation of trash, high weeds, and derelict vehicles. Property owners in violation of the property maintenance code will be notified in writing of the reasons for violation and given a reasonable time period in which to comply. These standards are based upon the community’s desires to maintain the high quality of living in Granite City.

The City wants to ensure that all residential and non-residential properties are maintained and meet the minimum requirements of the Property Maintenance Code. We accomplish this by performing inspections on those properties at a change of occupancy or ownership. The Property Maintenance Code provides the basis of the City's Residential and Commercial Occupancy Permit program. The owner of a home, apartment unit or commercial building, including tenant spaces, must apply for an Occupancy Permit when the occupancy or ownership changes.

Certain commercial uses that raise additional safety concerns may require annual inspections. The permit application may be applied for in the Building & Zoning Department. The permit must be obtained within thirty (30) days of application. It is the owner's responsibility to pay all necessary fees and arrange to make units available for inspections. Units must have the utilities operational for the inspection. You may schedule your date and time for the inspection of your property after the application is received and the fee has been paid. Inspection slots are available between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please call (618) 452-6218 for more information on Occupancy Permits.

Current Department Fees

Click here for information about our Schedule of Fees.