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Frequently Asked Questions
Rochester’s updated Zoning Code will be a key tool for implementing many of the policies contained in the City’s award-winning Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan. Effective regulations are dependent upon a careful understanding of existing patterns of land use and development, as well as an agreement as to how the policies of the Comprehensive Plan are interpreted and applied throughout the City. Below are some frequently asked questions about the role of zoning, and its relationship to other City Plans and policies.
What is Zoning?
In the simplest terms, zoning regulates what structures and land may be used for, where a structure may (or must, in certain cases) locate on a lot, and how big that structure can be. It also regulates other elements of site development, such as accessory structures (like sheds and garages), parking, and landscape. Zoning regulations are divided into zoning districts, so that use, bulk, setback and other development regulations can be specifically tailored to the character of each particular zoning district, in alignment with the character of the different places that make up the City of Rochester.
Why is the City Updating the Zoning Code?
The City’s last comprehensive look at its Zoning Code took place in 2003. Since then, the City has changed; new residents, new businesses, new priorities, emerging trends, and a new vision for the future necessitate a comprehensive look at the City’s development regulations. This is an important task to allow for implementation of the City’s Comprehensive Plan – its vision – as many of the zoning district regulations currently in place may not relate to the current built environment, creating nonconformities, or may not allow for certain forms of development that the community has indicated that it desires.
An updated Zoning Code can help to address these issues, removing unnecessary regulatory hurdles, offering clarity and guidance for new development, and providing opportunities for Rochester to move toward the vision established in Rochester 2034. In short — an updated Zoning Code will help the City move toward realizing its full potential.
What is the relationship between Rochester 2034 and the Zoning Code?
The Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan established a long-term vision for the future of Rochester, and called for a number of new policies to move the City toward that vision. New York State law requires that zoning regulations be “in accordance with a well considered plan”, meaning that future land use plans, as part of municipal comprehensive plans, are the visionary foundation for changes made to the zoning code and map. The Placemaking Plan, as part of Rochester 2034, is Rochester’s future land use plan, providing mapped and written policy about how land should be managed and how development should occur within the City. The new code will take this policy as its base, and provide a set of development regulations – organized by zoning district – each containing specific regulations key to its implementation. The City’s zoning map will also be updated as part of this process, identifying the location of these districts in alignment with the adopted future land use plan and thereby specifying the development requirements affecting land within the City. As such, the development of Rochester’s new Zoning Code is a major step in implementing the Comprehensive Plan.
How Can I Get Involved?
As the project moves forward, there will be numerous opportunities to learn about the Zoning Alignment Project, ask questions, and provide feedback. Upcoming events will be shared on this site as they are scheduled, and you can always leave us a comment through the comment form located here.