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Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances Update Project

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Current Size: 80%

The existing Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances were last thoroughly evaluated and comprehensively re-written in 1997 and 1996, respectively. In the ensuing time, many changes, both major and minor, have been made to the text of the ordinances, including the addition of districts and overlays to the Zoning Ordinance. The results include ordinances containing outdated requirements, internal inconsistencies, and ordinances that can be difficult for community members to comprehend. In recent years, it has become apparent that a significant overhaul of the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances is needed. Additionally, new ways of thinking about planning and zoning combined with new techniques and principles for implementing adopted plans offer ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of City planning and zoning. The adoption of the new Comprehensive Plan in November 2018 also affords the opportunity for taking a holistic approach to developing a new Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Ordinance. 

In July 2020, the City contracted with Kendig Keast Collaborative to partner with city staff to update the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances. 


Project Process - Milestones 

Highlighted Past and Upcoming Activities

Project Resources

Frequently Asked Questions 

Join E-Mail List


Project Process - Milestones:

Project Milestones

PDF [309KB] Project Milestones


Highlighted Past and Upcoming Activities


Project Resources


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Zoning?

Zoning ordinances are land use regulations with the purpose generally stated as for protecting the health, safety, and general welfare of the people in a community. The Zoning Ordinance is a section of the City’s Code that regulates the development of buildings, activities and land use. Zoning determines what use you can have on a property such as a house or business. It determines how high a building can be or how far away from the street it should be. It is regulatory; it says how many signs a business can have and how big they can be. 

What are Subdivision regulations?

Subdivision regulations govern the division of land, which includes everything from simply splitting one lot to create two lots or in subdividing a large piece of land to create a new neighborhood. Among other things, subdivision regulations establish rules for the creating of lots, blocks, and streets, and provide for the establishments of easements and public rights-of-way. 

Why are Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances important?

They affect how our city looks and works, now and in the future. The update to the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances will help to implement the City's 2018 Comprehensive Plan, helping turn general goals into a reality. Revising the Ordinances will help to shape the City's future growth. 

What are the desired outcomes of the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances update?

  • Create streamlined, clear, and user-friendly ordinances 
  • Update the ordinances to fully comply with all the Zoning and Subdivision provisions required by the Code of Virginia. 
  • Update definitions in the Ordinances to enhance clarity and reduce the need for interpretation. 
  • Align changes with the 2018 Comprehensive Plan. For example, among other things, the ordinances update should consider:
    • Encouraging areas with a mix of uses (residential and nonresidential) and allow different housing types and lot sizes.
    • Promoting the development of more single-family detached and duplex housing units. 
    • Promoting the development of lower cost and affordable housing (both for rental and homeownership). 
    • Expanding opportunities for infill development, and the reuse and redevelopment of existing and underutilized structures and properties. 
    • Promoting walkable neighborhoods. 
    • Providing off-street parking to adequately meet demand and provide access to key destinations, businesses, and services, without creating oversupply. 
    • Adapting to new trends and demands while ensuring that new development and redevelopment of residential, commercial, and industrial properties will be compatible with existing land uses and with planned uses of surrounding properties.  


Join E-Mail List

Send an email to Thanh.Dang@harrisonburgva.gov with subject "Join Ordinance Updates Email List" to receive future email updates and announcements about this project. 


Questions? Contact Thanh Dang, Assistant Director of Community Development at Thanh.Dang@harrisonburgva.gov or 540-432-7700. 


To report any problems with the links or other content on this page, please email Nyrma.Soffel@harrisonburgva.gov.