What is Zoning?
The Columbus City Charter empowers City Council to establish land use
policy within the city through the zoning process. Zoning laws determine the
type of activity which may occur within specific geographic areas within the
city. By extension, zoning laws help determine the type of structure which can
be built on a given site. All property in the City of Columbus lies within a
particular zoning district, and each zoning district establishes what uses are
permitted and how those uses are to be developed on the property (i.e.
setbacks, lot area, density, parking spaces, etc.). While the Columbus Zoning
Code currently identifies 41 different zoning districts, land use can be
grouped under three general categories: residential, commercial and industrial.
More examples can be found in Title 33, Columbus Zoning Code at https://library.municode.com/oh/columbus/codes/code_of_ordinances.
Questions of zoning generally come before City Council for two reasons:
- A property owner wishes to use their property
for a different purpose than currently is permissible. For example, an owner
wants to convert a commercial structure into an apartment building.
The City wishes to
actively influence what type of development that occurs in a particular
geographic area. For example, the City may want to promote commercial
development on an abandoned industrial site to create new jobs for the
citizens. Or, public policy considerations may cause the City to want to
restrict certain activity deemed inappropriate for an area.
The zoning process involves several steps
designed to assure appropriate review and oversight in accordance to existing
zoning laws, public policy, and community standards. At the same time it is
intended to protect individual property rights.
- The process starts
with a property owner (applicant) submitting a rezoning or Council variance
application to the Department of Building and Zoning Services for processing
and to be placed on a monthly staff review agenda. The purpose of staff review
is to determine whether City Departments can support the proposed land use and
to identify what conditions must be met in order to garner a favorable
- While staff review of
the request is ongoing, the applicable neighborhood group also formulates a
recommendation. These groups may be an Area Commission (https://cbusareacommissions.org/), Historic Architectural Review Commission,
Design Review Commission, or recognized civic association. Neighborhood group
recommendations and City Departments recommendations are separate and do not
necessarily coincide for each zoning application.
- Rezoning requests are
afforded an additional recommendation by the Columbus Development Commission, a
seven-member body appointed by the Mayor that serves as an advisory body to the
City Departments and City Council in matters related to zoning district
changes, code changes, and various
planning initiatives. The Development
Commission holds a public hearing at least once each month
- At any point in the
process, review may necessitate an applicant adjust their proposal. All or none
of these reviewing bodies may recommend approval of the applicant's request.
- Finally, a request will come before City Council for a final
vote in the form of legislation. It is the policy of Columbus City Council to
encourage cooperative resolution of disputes, and to solicit neighborhood
- Upon scheduling
legislation on a Council Zoning Meeting agenda, all owners of record of
property within 125 feet of the exterior boundaries of the property identified
in the title of an ordinance scheduled to be heard by Council must be notified
that a public meeting has been set. In accordance with public meeting access
provisions, residents may attend the meeting in person at City Hall.
- All persons wishing to
speak during a Council meeting must submit a speaker slip electronically on the
day of the meeting (Monday) no later than 3:00 p.m. via the Council website at:
Residents can track zoning and variance applications with the Development
Tracker Application by
creating a subscription to be notified when new zoning actions are proposed in
your area of interest.
Questions about proposed
zoning actions can be sent to [email protected].
Council’s Zoning Priorities
On March 2nd, 2022, Zoning Committee Chair Rob
Dorans hosted a public hearing outlining City Council’s priorities and
procedures when reviewing applications for Rezonings and Council Variances:
income Housing Stock
Staff/Development Commission Recommendation
Incorporations of Transportation Infrastructure
Space/ Environmental Consideration
Creation/ Proximity to Job Centers
Needs and Requests to Applicant are met
investment in Public Infrastructure
Density Matches Area infrastructure and/or Adjacent Uses.
The attached document
lists zoning requests that have not received immediate approval by the City
Council. In most instances where unanimous approval does exist, i.e., the
Development Commission, the Neighborhood Area Commission, and Development
department staff have all agreed, Council agrees. It approves the change in
zoning and the issue does not reach the Zoning Rejection Docket.
If Council does place an
item on the Zoning Rejection Docket, it typically means Council believes there
are unresolved issues. Council instructs the parties to "go back to the
drawing board" and come to an acceptable compromise. If successful, such
items generally are removed from the Docket and approved at a later date. The
current disposition of each item on the Docket can be seen in the rightmost
column of the attachment.