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  Zoning Overview | Zoning Verification Letter | Code Updates | The Code |BZA | Zoning Change Public Hearings


What is Zoning?

Use Districts | Height & Area Districts | Variances | Urban Overlay | Townhouse Code | Form Based Code Pilot Project

Zoning is a set of laws that restrict and define the type of land uses and development that can occur on each parcel of land in a community. Zoning typically divides a community into districts that group compatible uses together and exclude incompatible uses. 

Zoning laws typically specify the areas in which residential, industrial, recreational or commercial activities may take place. They also provide regulations that determine building placement (setbacks), height of structures, lot sizes, lot coverage, parking and other requirements.

How Does Cleveland's Zoning Code Work?
Euclidean Zoning and "Use" Districts

Zones are divided into three basic "use" categories: Residential, Commercial, and Industrial. These categories are then broken into sub-categories. The zones are tiered from most restrictive (residential at the bottom of the pyramid) to least restrictive (industrial at the top). The pyramid works like a nesting doll, uses in the more restrictive districts are also permitted in the less restrictive districts. For instance, a single family home is permitted in the One Family, Two Family and even the General Retail district. A retail use is permitted in the Local Retail, General Retail, Semi-Industry districts but not in the residential districts. The zoning districts work in tandem with the zoning map, meaning that all zoning categories are mapped.

Zoning Pyramid


Zoning Use Table

The zoning table below (PDF Download ) shows how uses, both residential and non-residential, are permitted within zoning districts set forth in Title VII: Zoning Code of the Codified Ordinance of Cleveland, Ohio. Uses are listed on the column to the left. Zoning districts are listed across the top row. Find the corresponding use to the left. Read along to the right of the uses to find out what zoning district(s) your use is either permitted or not permitted.

For a complete look at permitted uses please view the actual municipal code.

P - Permitted by right
C - Permitted but specific conditions apply
Z - Board of Zoning Appeals must review and approve (non-variance)
Blank - Use is not permitted

Zoning Use Table

Cleveland Zoning Use Table (Click to download PDF)

Height and Area Districts

Zoning Use, Area and Height Chart

Use, Area and Height Districts Chart (Click to download (PDF))

Apart from "use" categories, the zoning code also regulates the height of a building and the area a building can occupy on a lot. Area districts only apply to residential structures or in the case of a mixed-use structure, only those floors with residential uses, are taken into consideration in the calculation for an area district. The area districts range from the lot area (indcated as a B district) to 6 times the lot area (indicated as a K district). Height districts range from 1 (35' max. height) to 9 (900' max. height).


Example: 2F-B1:
Use: 2F indicates two-family residential uses are permitted
Area: "B" allows a residential unit to occupy ½ the lot area, (2,000ft² home allowed on a 4,000ft² lot)
Height: "1" allows for a building up to 35'

Example: LR-G2:
Use: LR indicates that Local Retail uses permitted
Area: "F" allows a building to occupy 2 times the lot area (applies to residential component only)
Height: "2" allows for a building up to 60'




In some instances there may be a need for special consideration of a property or use that is not permitted by the zoning code. This special consideration is called a variance. Variances are considered by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) which accepts testimony by both supporters and opposition of a variance.


Link: Board of Zoning Appeals Home Page | BZA Fee Schedule


The Urban Overlay
Cleveland's First Form-Based Zoning District

The Urban Overlay (UO) represents a pivot from segregated-use zoning districts to a form-first philosophy. Modern city dwellers and those who are looking to relocate to cities intuitively understand and are attracted to places built on form-first principles. Ohio City, Gordon Square, Little Italy and downtown Lakewood are examples of this type of development. These dense walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods are an essential element of sustainable 21st living and we will need more of them in order to sustain and grow our City. The Urban Overlay is an essential tool for Cleveland neighborhoods to use in their transition from single-use, auto-centric policies to a healthy, inclusive and sustainable future.

The UO is intended for arterial corridors such as Detroit, Lorain or Madison. It is also a good tool for streets that are gateways into the neighborhoods or that are adjacent to arterial streets. The UO helps transition from the larger commercial buildings on the arterials to the smaller residential streets by ensuring new townhomes or apartment buildings contribute the walkable form of the existing neighborhood.

For a full description of the Form Based Zoning Districts you can go to the American Legal Publishing website (Section 348)


Urban Form Overlay Evaluation Form

We have created a user friendly form that can be used to easily evaluate a project or proposal for compliance with the provisions of the Urban Form Overlay District.

Download the form (PDF)




  • Reset the default – make strong urban form the default in the zoning code
  • Support walkable neighborhoods, mixed-use districts, encourage alternative transportation methods
  • Shepard development through City processes more quickly
  • Easy to read format

Use Regulations

  • Can be mapped in any zoning district

Building Setbacks

  • Builds a street wall while still allowing room for facade articulation and patios
  • Encourages adaptive reuses of existing buildings without a variance
    *Residential conversions of commercial buildings often require setback variances

Building Design

  • Designed to improve the walkable characteristics of all building types - residential to industrial
  • Safety through environmental design – defines the public/private space
  • Promotes interaction between interior and exterior realms


  • The right amount of parking in the right place to support walkable neighborhoods
  • Encourages shared parking solutions
  • Requires active uses to screen parking structures
Townhouse Code
A new Townhouse chapter incorporating the principles of form based code

The townhouse zoning code was developed to guide the development for townhouse buildings that will support healthy, walkable and safe neighborhoods. The code accomplishes these goals by setting best practices for form, site planning and building features for townhouse developments. Elements like elevated front porches, first floor living areas and rear-loaded garages are regulated design features under the code. By setting high standards for design, the code can better ensure that new townhouses are respectful of their context and add to neighborhood vitality.

Townhouse Code Evaluation Form

We have created a user friendly form that can be used to easily evaluate a project or proposal for compliance with the provisions of the townhouse code.

Download the form (PDF)



Zoning Verification Letters

Zoning Letter Request Form (PDF)

  • The city planning commission provides zoning verification letters as a courtesy.  There is no charge for the letter. 
  • Our zoning verification letter will only confirm the current zoning of a property and provide reference to the applicable controlling zoning code section or city ordinance.
  • The City Planning Commission does not make determinations of compliance with current zoning codes. A Building Permit application is required to determine compliance.
  • All requests for zoning information should include the Permanent Parcel Number (PPN).  Requests without a PPN will not be processed.
  • Requests are completed in the order that they are received and usually take approximately 7 to 14 working days to complete.
  • Once downloaded and filled out the form should be emailed to

For information about Permanent Parcel Numbers (PPN's) you may visit the Cuyahoga County Auditors Website.
County Website

For permit information contact the Division of Building and Housing at 216.664.2282 or

For existing code violations you can request a "Code Letter" from the Records Administration Section. They can be reached at 216.664.2825, Weekdays 8am-5pm.

For Any Special Permits, Conditions or Variances contact the Board of Zoning Appeals – 216.664.2581.