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Zoning and Use

The Philadelphia Zoning Code regulates development within the city. Zoning regulations govern land use, the height and size of buildings, population density, parking requirements, signage placement and the character of development on private property, and property uses.  For detailed information on the Zoning process, please review the Zoning Administrative Manual

The Zoning code governs two types of permits:

  • Zoning Permits authorize construction or an addition to a building. A zoning permit is required for the following:
    • All new construction
    • Building an extension to an existing structure
    • Creating a lot or subdividing a lot
    • Demolition or partial demolition of a structure
    • Billboards and certain signs
    • Construction of masonry fences above two (2) feet
    • Construction of fences above legal height limits allowed by Zoning Code in the specific Zoning classification ruling that property.  (See the Zoning Code or the Zoning Quick Reference Guide.)
    • Creation of off-street parking or reconfiguration of existing parking
    • Installation of some signs  in addition to the actual sign permit
  • Use Registration Permits authorize a particular use of the building or ground. A use registration permit is required for the following situations:
    • Changes in any activity in an existing building
    • New business use for a property
    • Increases or decreases in the number of dwelling units
    • Elimination of an existing use in a property
    • Billboards and most signs

Completion of the Application for a Zoning and Use Registration Permit is necessary for both types of zoning approvals. Both types of permits may be required before a building permit can be issued for construction.  Any construction will also require a building permit