- Planning & Zoning
Planning & Zoning
The Planning & Zoning Department is committed to promoting the highest quality of life and individual prosperity for the citizens of Lancaster. We strive to do this by supporting economic growth while maintaining an appropriate balance of residential, commercial, and industrial land uses; increasing connectivity and enhancing public safety to encourage active living and improve community health; and protecting parks, natural resources, area landmarks, and sites of historic significance to preserve the unique character and rich heritage of our community.
The Planning & Zoning Department provides current and long-range planning services for the City of Lancaster. Planning involves creating a long-term vision for the community as well as bringing a sense of coordination to City services by considering the interrelatedness of decisions and their social, economic, and aesthetic impacts. Project plans are reviewed for compliance with the City’s zoning code and consistency with long range and area plans. Planning & Zoning staff assists applicants through the development process from the conceptual stage through final plan approval and provides technical guidance and recommendations to the Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), and the Historic Lancaster Commission (HLC).
City Hall, Second Floor
104 E. Main St.
Lancaster, OH 43130
121 E. Chestnut St.
Lancaster, OH 43130
Monday - Friday
7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Lancaster Zoning Code
The Lancaster Zoning Code is enacted for the purposes of:
- promoting the health, safety, peace, morals, comfort, convenience, prosperity, order, and general welfare;
- lessening danger and congestion of public transportation and travel;
- securing safety from fire and other dangers;
- preventing overcrowding of land;
- avoiding undue concentration of population;
- providing adequate light and air, police protection, transportation, water, sewerage, schools, parks, forests, recreational facilities, and other public requirements, and preventing undue encroachment thereon;
- conserving the value of buildings and encouraging the most appropriate use of land;
- encouraging the industrial, commercial and residential growth of the community;
- and promoting the development of the community in accordance with a development plan.
A zoning clearance review and permit are required prior to the construction, alteration, or change of use of any building, structure, or land. Projects requiring zoning review could include, but are not limited to new construction, additions, signage, change of use/new tenant, accessory structures, parking lots, etc. The clearance process ensures that the proposed use or building meets the requirements of the zoning code and does not negatively impact surrounding properties.
The Lancaster City Planning Commission is responsible for administering the land use plan, zoning code, and subdivision regulations within the City of Lancaster. Members come from a wide range of backgrounds including business, development, architecture, and real estate to provide a well-rounded viewpoint of interests in the development of the City. The Commission reviews new developments, subdivisions, and rezoning requests.
The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), which consists of five Mayor-appointed members, hears requests for special exemptions, both use and area variances, and appeals regarding administrative decisions, HLC decisions, and floodplain issues. BZA meetings provide people an opportunity to express support or concern for potential changes that could directly impact them or their property. The quasi-judicial BZA considers the zoning text and any public comments before making a ruling on a case.
The long-term preservation and enhancement of Lancaster’s historic properties is a local goal that has been established through years of planning and implementation of programs that promote revitalization rather than demolition. Revitalization of historic areas and buildings preserves a sense of place, and promotes economic development and community pride. The Historic Lancaster Commission reviews architectural projects that fall within the historic preservation district overlay for consistency with the Historic Lancaster Design Guidelines which were adopted in 2008. To determine if your address falls within the overlay district, please check the address list, or contact P&Z staff.
In 1979, the City of Lancaster established Community Reinvestment Areas (CRAs) to provide incentives to encourage the rehabilitation of facilities or structures of historical significance, the repair of existing housing, and promote economic and community development. Within the CRA, certain types of construction can be granted tax exemptions for improvements to real property. The CRA Housing Council meets annually to inspect sites with current tax abatements, and to review applications and appeals for the program. For additional information on the available tax exemptions and qualifications, please visit the tax abatement program page.
- Zoning Clearance Application - Commercial; covers the following:
- Commercial new development
- Commercial additions or alterations
- Change of use
- Zoning Clearance Application - Easy Form; covers the following:
- Change of business (same use)
- Change of tenant or owner
- Zoning Clearance Application - Residential; covers the following:
- Residential new builds
- Residential additions or exterior modifications (including porches or lean-to structures)
- Accessory buildings (garages, sheds, carports, etc.)
- Solar Energy Systems
- Simple Site Plan; may be used for most minor residential zoning applications
Board of Zoning Appeals
City Planning Commission
- Meeting Schedule
- Application for Certificate of Appropriateness
- Historic Guidelines
- Historic District Map