Geoffrey Knight | Director of Planning Bureau
The Bureau of Planning promotes orderly future growth and development of the City through long-range comprehensive planning.
The objectives of the Bureau of Planning are: To promote and facilitate physical development plans, To preserve and enhance districts of historical and architectural significance, To collect, analyze, and distribute timely information on planning and community development issues, To develop and apply the City’s Geographic Information System (GIS) to all areas of development including the identification of all pertinent physical attributes of a property (floodplain, historic district, and zoning).
Measurements and indicators used to evaluate progress include: The number of development applications reviewed by the Harrisburg Planning Commission, Zoning Hearing Board, and Historic Architectural Review Board, Environmental reviews and clearances for federally funded programs, Implementation of comprehensive and neighborhood plans; Research, monitoring, and promotion of plans for accessibility and fair housing, Technical assistance to businesses, consultants, and property owners on the plan review and permitting process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is my property’s zoning and what am I permitted to do there?
If your project is not permitted by-right within the zoning district in which the property is located, you may request relief from these regulations via: 2014 Zoning Code Special Exception; which should be applied for under the following circumstances:
- specifically noted in the Section 7-305.7: Permitted Uses by Zoning District
- for reduction or waivers of the off-street parking requirements
Variance; which should be applied for under the following circumstances:
- for relief from the Development Standards outlined in Chapter 7-307
- for relief from the Signage regulations outlined in Chapter 7-325
Variance and Special Exception Application Variance and Special Exception applications will be heard before both the Harrisburg Planning Commission (HPC) and Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB). Subdivision, Land Development, and/or Planned Residential Development applications will be heard before the Harrisburg Planning Commission (and subsequently by the City Council).
Is my property in a Historic District? What does that mean?
The Municipal Historic District Map is available on the website. First, locate your property on the Historic District Map and determine whether you are within one of the City’s Historic Districts; the City and Harrisburg Architectural Review Board (HARB) only have purview over Municipal Historic Districts and not National Historic Districts. The City’s historic districts regulations are included in Chapter 7-317 of the Zoning Code. If so, please refer to the documentation under the link to the map for appropriate projects within the historic district; as a general rule, if the project will use in-kind replacements (meaning the material and the design is the same), then such projects can be administratively approved by the Planning Bureau. If not, then a Certificate of Appropriateness application (the application is on the website) must be filed, which is reviewed by HARB; HARB and/or City Council approval is required for the work to commence as proposed.
Is my property in a 100 Year Floodplain
Please view the Interactive Zoning Map to determine if your property is in a 100 year Floodplain. The City of Harrisburg participates in FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS) program, which “recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards. Besides the benefit of reduced insurance rates, CRS floodplain management activities enhance public safety, reduce damages to property and public infrastructure, avoid economic disruption and losses, reduce human suffering, and protect the environment.” Because the City participates in the CRS program, owners of property within the 100-Year Floodplain receive a 20% discount on their flood insurance. The City of Harrisburg requires documentation certified by a professional Engineer stating that the proposed project will not impact adjacent properties in the floodplain nor increase the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). The Planning Bureau is currently developing an application for this purpose. Until such documentation is posted on the website, Applicants should submit a Floodplain Special Exception document; which involves filling out a Special Exception application and filling out the “Floodplain Special Exception” box under Application Type.