The City of Cincinnati’s zoning laws regulate the use and development of all land within the City of Cincinnati. Compliance with these laws is a prerequisite for all building permits. But they apply even if a building permit is not required.
The zoning laws affecting each property are determined by the property’s base zoning district and overlay districts (e.g. Historic District, Urban Design Overlay District, Hillside Overlay District, etc.). All properties are located in a base zoning district but not all properties are located in an overlay district. In some cases, more than one overlay district applies.
The City of Cincinnati’s zoning laws are administered by the Department of City Planning and Buildings. The Department’s plans examiners review the proposed use and development of property to determine compliance with applicable zoning laws. You can request a determination that your use or development complies with applicable zoning laws by submitting the following zoning verification application at the Permit Center at 3300 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45255. If you have any questions about the process, please call (513) 352-3271.
The Zoning Laws That Affect Your Property
Determining the zoning laws that affect your property is straightforward. First, use the zoning map to find the base zoning district and overlay districts in which your property is located. You can do this by searching your address in the zoning map below, selecting the yellow folder at the top of the screen, and checking the box for “Zoning” and the boxes designated “Cincinnati Only.” Your base zoning district is indicated by a colored layer (e.g. pale yellow) and a code (e.g. SF-6), and any overlay districts affecting your property are indicated by an extra layer of coloring. If you are uncertain whether your property is located within an overlay district, you can toggle the boxes designated “Cincinnati Only” to see if the coloring layers over your property change.
After locating your property’s base zoning district and overlay districts, if any, use the zoning code below to find the zoning laws that affect your property. Each base zoning district and each overlay district has its own chapter in the zoning code. The rules found in those chapters are the rules that apply to your property. In addition, there are chapters that apply to all properties. Those include chapters concerning general site standards, signs, parking, buffering and landscaping, and specific uses of property.
Some uses and development of property require administrative reviews. These administrative reviews are conducted by the Zoning Hearing Examiner and the Historic Conservation Board. The base zoning district and the overlay districts in which your property is located determines which of these administrative bodies is responsible for conducting the review.
Most administrative reviews are conducted by the Zoning Hearing Examiner. The Zoning Hearing Examiner determines applications for variances, use variances, special exceptions, conditional uses, Hillside Overlay District development permissions, Urban Design Overlay District development permissions, expansions or substitutions of nonconforming uses, and reviews of phased developments in the DD zoning district.
The Historic Conservation Board reviews the appropriateness of alterations to and demolitions of historic assets and new construction in historic districts. It also reviews applications in place of the Zoning Hearing Examiner when the property at issue is located in Historic Districts.
In addition to these reviews, the City Planning Commission conducts reviews for changes in use and development of properties located in Interim Development Control Districts. Following approval by the City Planning Commission, further approvals of the Zoning Hearing Examiner or Historic Conservation Board may be required.
You can learn more about the Zoning Hearing Examiner and the Historic Conservation Board by clicking on the following links:
Appeal of Decisions
The Zoning Board of Appeals reviews decisions by the Director of City Planning and Buildings, the Zoning Hearing Examiner, the Historic Conservation Board, and, in very limited instances, the City Planning Commission. Only persons affected by a decision may appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Any person wishing to do so should familiarize themselves with the Chapter 1449 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code which establishes the rules and time limits for appeals to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
You can learn more about the Zoning Board of Appeals by clicking on the following links:
Zoning Code Violations
If you suspect the use or development of a property violates the City of Cincinnati’s zoning laws, you can report the suspected violation by calling (513) 591-6000 or by clicking on the link below and submitting a compliant under “Building Problems.”