General Zoning Information

Contact Info

Zoning Inquiries
Office: 
614-645-8637
Email: zoninginfo@columbus.gov

Rezoning and variances
(Zoning Public Hearings)
Office: 614-645-4522

Section managers

Chief Zoning Official
Chris Presutti 

Code Development: 
Paul Freedman, Manager

Commercial Zoning Clearance:
Chris Mokris, Manager

Residential Zoning Clearance:
Christine Leed, Manager

Public Hearings - BZA and Graphics:
Dick Makley, Manager

Public Hearings - Rezoning and Council Variances: 
Shannon Pine, Manager

Zoning Terms & FAQ

The following is a list of frequently used Zoning terms and associated definitions.

Architectural review commission 
When used without clarification means the historic resources commission created by Chapter 3117, C.C., or an architectural review commission created by Chapter 3319 to Chapter 3331, C.C., inclusive, and having jurisdiction over the application. 

Area commission 
Established to afford additional voluntary citizen participation in decision-making in an advisory capacity and to facilitate communication, understanding and cooperation between neighborhood groups, city officials and developers. 

Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) 
Hears and decides appeals from any persons affected by any order, requirement, decision or determination made by the director in the administration or enforcement of the Zoning Code except for those matters subject to the jurisdiction of the graphics commission or the board of commission appeals. The board shall also hear and decide requests for special permits and variances (except for those under the jurisdiction of City Council, the Graphics Commission or the Board of Commission Appeals) and any other matter upon which it is required to pass under the Zoning Code. 

Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A)
Issued by the Architectural Review or Historic Resources Commission to an applicant stating that the proposed construction, alteration or demolition of a structure, architectural feature or listed property pursuant to the application filed is appropriate under the terms of the chapter of the Zoning Code, consistent with the architectural characteristics, guidelines and standards affecting same or due to unusual and compelling circumstances or substantial economic hardship does not require such consistency and that, therefore, a permit can be issued.

Change of Use [zoning] 
Any alteration in the use of a lot for zoning purposes which may entail the need for additional parking or loading facilities. 

Columbus Graphics Commission 
The duties of the graphics commission:
• Hear and decide all requests, except as provided for in C.C. 3359, for appeals or variances from the application of this Graphics Code
• Hear and decide all requests, except as provided for in C.C. 3359, for special permits where required by this Graphics Code
• Hear and decide all requests, except as provided for in C.C. 3359, for approval of a graphics plan and any other action required by this Graphics Code to be heard by the graphics commission
• Review, except as provided for in C.C. 3359, special graphics control area design criteria and standards proposed for adoption and to make a recommendation to city council
• Serve as a board of appeals from rulings or procedures of the board of examiners of general and limited sign erectors
• Review the existing Graphics Code and propose new legislation to be prepared by the department
• Review all pending legislation pertaining to graphics and make recommendations to city council
• Recommend changes to the City Codes pertaining to graphics

Condominium 
A building or group of buildings, in which dwelling units, offices or floor area are owned individually, and the structure, common areas and facilities are owned by all the owners on a proportional, undivided basis. 

Council variance 
A variance to allow a use that is not permitted by the underlying zoning district. City Council may also consider variances to yard, height and parking only if in conjunction with a use variance or a rezoning. 

CZO 
Chief Zoning Official 

Development Commission 
And advisory body to the administration and to City Council in matters related to zoning code changes, rezoning applications and various planning initiatives. 

Dwelling 
A structure or portion thereof that is used exclusively for human habitation. 

Dwelling unit 
A single, self-contained unit providing independent living facilities for one or more individuals that contains eating, living, sanitary and sleeping areas in addition to a cooking facility, all for exclusive use by the occupants. This definition does not apply to units in dormitories, homeless shelters, hotels, motels or other buildings designed for transients. 

Easement 
Grant of one or more property rights by the property owner for use by the public, a corporation, or another person of entity. 

Flood Plain (also special flood hazard area) 
A river or other watercourse and its adjacent area subject to inundation by the "base flood." A "Special Flood Hazard Area" is also known as a "flood plain" or "100-year flood plain" and is composed of the "floodway" and the "floodway fringe." Special Flood Hazard Areas are designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as either Zone A, AE, AH, AO, A1-30, or A99. 

Frontage 
Side of a lot abutting on a street; the front lot line. 

Graphic 
Any communication designed to be seen from any public place utilizing letters, words, numbers, symbols, pictures, color, illumination, geometric or irregular shapes or planes, in whole or part, including all structural components. The term graphic specifically includes the terms sign, architectural decoration, mural, sculpture, show window display, outline lighting and banner. 

Nonconforming building 
A building which was erected legally but which does not comply with subsequently enacted zoning regulations for the district in which it is located. 

Nonconforming graphic 
A graphic which was erected legally but which does not comply with subsequently enacted provisions of the Graphics Code.

Nonconforming use 
A use which was initiated legally but which does not comply with subsequently enacted regulations of the use district in which it is situated. 

Lot 
A parcel of land occupied or designed to be occupied as a unit by a building, apartment complex, multiple dwelling development or commercial complex and the accessory buildings or uses customarily incident to it, if any, including such open spaces as are required by this Zoning Code and such open spaces as are arranged and designed to be used in connection with such building or buildings. Such lots shall be of record in the appropriate county recorder's office. 

Parcel 
A contiguous lot or tract of land owned and recorded as the property of the same persons or controlled by a single entity. 

Plat 
A map or site plan of all or a portion of a subdivision showing the boundaries and location of individual properties and streets. 

Rezoning 
A change of the zoning classification of particular lots or parcels of land. Rezoning is also known as "amending the zoning map" and can be approved only in ordinance form by City Council after receiving a recommendation at a public hearing of the Development Commission. 

Right-of-Way
A general term denoting land, property or the interest therein, usually in the configuration of a strip, acquired for or devoted to transportation purposes. When used in this context, right of way includes the roadway, shoulders or berm, ditch and slopes extending to the right-of-way limits under the control of the state or local authority. 

Setback 
The minimum distance of a specified physical feature from a property line or street right-of-way. The minimum setbacks in a zoning ordinance may define the building envelope and establish the required yards-front, rear, and side. The zoning ordinance also indicates what may be permitted in which yards: parking, fences, accessory buildings, patios, etc. 

Special Permit 
Required by the Board of Zoning Adjustment for specified uses due to unique characteristics relative to location, design, size, operation, circulation or need for public services and to provide supplemental criteria. 

Variance 
Permission to depart from the literal requirements of a zoning code. 

Zoning 
Delineation of districts and the establishment of regulations governing the use, placement, spacing and size of land and buildings. 

Zoning Clearance 
Determination that an application is in conformity with the provisions of the Zoning Code or as permitted by a variance, special permit or decision from an appeal. A "certificate of zoning clearance" is required and shall be obtained prior to the construction or alteration of any building or structure. The establishment, change or modification in the use of any building, structure or land, or the grading, excavating or filling of land. 

Zoning FAQs