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


What is Zoning?

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



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. Property owners can request a variance if they are one zoning sub-category away from what their intended use requires. For example, if a property owner wants to put an apartment building in a Two Family district, the applicant may request a zoning variance. Variances are considered by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) which accepts testimony by both supporters and opposition of a variance. If an intended use is more than one zoning designation away from current zoning designation (e.g. a retail store in a Two-Family zone) the only remedy would be a rezoning. A rezoning is a longer and more scrutinized public process. Similar to a variance, all affected and neighboring property owners are given opportunities to voice their support or opposition.

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


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.

Please be advised that all requests for zoning information should include the Permanent Parcel Number (PPN).  Requests without a PPN will not be processed. For information about PPN's you may visit the Cuyahoga County Auditors Website here.

The City Planning Commission does not make determinations of compliance with current zoning codes. A Building Permit application is required to determine compliance. For more 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.

Requests are completed in the order that they are received and usually take approximately 7 to 14 working days to complete. 

We have created a zoning confirmation letter request form that you can download here.  This is an Adobe Acrobat form that can be downloaded, filled out, saved and returned to