Land Use Policy

What are Land Use Policies?
Land use policies guide how we use land. They shape the form and character of cities and neighborhoods and can affect people’s access to housing, jobs, schools, open space, transportation, and more. Local governments are the primary entities for creating and implementing land use policies.

How is the Comprehensive Plan organized?
The City Comprehensive Plan includes five citywide Planning Systems organized around crossing-cutting themes. The Planning Systems contain a range of written policies and actions. The Comp Plan also includes General Land Use and Place-Based policies and actions, a Future Land Use Map (FLUM), an Economic Development Policy Map, and a special section of the plan called Conestoga Riverfront Reimagined.

What is a Future Land Use Map (FLUM)?
A FLUM is a community’s visual guide to future planning. The map helps determine appropriate locations for land uses. It brings together important topics like natural resources, economic development, housing, and transportation. No major development decisions should be inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan or FLUM.

How is the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) different from a Zoning Map?
A Zoning Map is part of local law and regulates property rights today. A FLUM is used to direct future decisions about zoning, development, and infrastructure investments. The map should be used in concert with the written policies in the Comprehensive Plan.

General Land Use Policies & Actions

Policy GLU – 1:  Updating Codes and Ordinances
Update City codes and ordinances so they are consistent with the policies, actions, and maps in the Comprehensive Plan. Create regulations and processes that are easy to understand and navigate and promote a high standard of public health, safety, and welfare.  

Action GLU – 1A:  Zoning Update
Adopt new zoning regulations consistent with the policies of the City’s adopted Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map, giving special consideration to creating and sustaining mixed-use neighborhoods.   

Action GLU – 1B:  Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO)
Adopt new subdivision and land development regulations consistent with the policies of the City’s adopted Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map.   

Action GLU – 1C:  Official Map
Adopt a new Official Map consistent with the policies of the City’s adopted Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map. Identify and plan for land acquisition, street, and infrastructure projects that are essential to the community’s growth and wellbeing. The Map should be regularly updated to reflect various strategic planning initiatives, with an emphasis on planning for capital improvements and transportation connections.   

Policy GLU – 2:  Customer-Focused Development Services
Create a development review and approval process that is efficient, customer-friendly, and accessible without technical expertise. Establish an integrated review process for boards, commissions, and authorities as a part of development approvals. Efficiency is paramount to support economic growth and must be balanced with a thorough review process that achieves high quality land development and urban design, which confer multiple benefits to the community.   

Policy GLU – 3:  Inter-Municipal Planning and Development
Coordinate land use planning and physical development patterns with adjacent municipalities. This should include collaborative planning to address land use and physical development opportunities that stretch across political boundaries. County and municipal comprehensive plans and other joint planning initiatives (for example, the Train Station Small Area Plan) are foundational documents that can guide these efforts. Special emphasis should be placed on meeting County density goals, enhancing the Conestoga River corridor, and achieving joint infrastructure projects like multi-modal trails.    

Policy GLU – 4:  Small Area Planning
Utilize Small Area Plans, Master Site Plans, Neighborhood Studies, and other forms of planning analyses to conduct in-depth evaluations of select areas and to determine a clear and detailed direction for land use and physical design.  

Action GLU – 4A:  Change and Focus Areas
Undertake Small Area Plans or similar scopes of work in response to major, anticipated land development changes (Land Use Change Areas) and/or where significant investment is occurring in neighborhoods, particularly neighborhoods designated as having Emerging Commercial Hubs.

Policy GLU – 5: Mixed Use Development
Create zoning districts for mixed-use neighborhoods of various scales and densities to encourage walkable and vibrant neighborhoods. Develop practical standards for neighborhood commercial uses that safeguard residential livability while also encouraging a viable and appropriate blend of retail and office spaces. Building density and commercial intensity should be highest in the City’s Urban Centers and more moderate in Neighborhood Mixed Use areas.

Policy GLU – 6: Regional Smart Growth
Employ smart growth land use patterns in Lancaster City that contribute to infill and concentrated physical development within the metro region. Think beyond boundaries and partner with adjacent municipalities to identify specific, smart growth opportunities and work towards shared goals that mitigate traffic congestion, improve air quality, preserve farmland, and group housing and jobs.  

Policy GLU – 7: Livable Suburban Corridors
Support efforts to provide multi-modal capital improvements on suburban corridors north and east of the City. Multi-municipal coordination will be essential as these roads are shared with adjoining municipalities. Enhancing multi-modal access will connect residents to commercial services and promote long-term land use changes, like the possible introduction of infill residential where appropriate. 

Policy GLU – 8: Building Transitions
Promote logical transitions in urban form between and within Future Land Use Categories, particularly regarding building placement and height. Each Future Land Use Category allows for a range of building heights so that they can respond appropriately to adjacent buildings and contribute to a thoughtful “stepping up” or “stepping down” (often referred to as an urban transect). Designated Land Use Change Areas and Regional Commercial Hubs may provide exceptions to this policy as they establish new land use patterns.  

Policy GLU – 9: Utility Coordination
Coordinate all Future Land Use Map changes with City utility planning. Land use intensification creates demand in infrastructure, particularly for water, sewer, and stormwater facilities. Areas with utility capacity limitations should be identified early on and communicated to the development community.

Place-Based Policies & Actions

Note: All Main Street Commercial Corridors, Commercial Hubs, and Land Use Change Areas are shown on the Economic Development Policy Map

Policy PB – 1:  Main Street Commercial Corridors
Continue to direct resources to areas designated as Main Street Commercial Corridors on the Economic Development Policy Map, which comprise the ‘Building on Strength’ Corridors, plus North Plum Street. These corridors feature a mix of land uses and tend to have a historical pattern of commercial development that may be continuous or intermittent.  It is appropriate to have higher density land development on these corridors and “step down” to more residential areas.  Concentrated private investment in these corridors may be paired with public investments as needed, such as infrastructure or streetscape improvements within the public right of way.     

Policy PB – 2:  Downtown
Continue to position Downtown as the economic engine of Lancaster City and the metro region.  Promote a range of interesting land uses, building forms, and activities.  Incentivize density to create a critical mass of goods and services.  Make Downtown a distinct place that is safe, comfortable, and enjoyable for all people.   

Policy PB – 3:  Northwest Gateway
Partner with landowners to craft a vision and small area plan that creates a high-density, mixed-use, and walkable neighborhood. Ensure cohesion between the stadium district and adjacent institutional properties owned by Franklin & Marshall College and Lancaster General Hospital. Establish a sensible street grid early on to promote good urban form and connections between uses. Ground floor commercial should be used to complement the stadium use, while upper floor residential would add vitality and additional housing. 

Policy PB – 4:  Train Station Area
Develop the Lancaster Train Station Area as a cohesive and well-designed urban gateway neighborhood, safely connecting all transportation modes and attracting a diverse mix of residents, housing, and businesses that are compatible with and supportive of increased transit ridership. Continue working with Lancaster County Planning and Manheim Township to implement the 2023 Train Station Small Area Plan, which includes the early next steps of establishing an Implementation Committee, amending  development regulations for intermunicipal consistency, and aligning funding tools.  

Policy PB – 5:  Burle Business Park Site
Explore a mixed-use vision with the landowner to seek an appropriate balance between added residential and Light Industry & Innovation land uses. Create a site plan and design, which pays careful attention to how a high-quality living environment and certain commercial and industrial uses might co-exist. The site has the potential to extend successful development along New Holland Avenue and connect with the Grandview Heights neighborhood to the west. Regulations should remain flexible to adapt to the changing market demands on large commercial land in and around the City. 

Policy PB – 6:  East End Neighborhood and Prison Site
Analyze options for the redevelopment of the prison site and create a small area plan for the East End that ties the urban fabric of the neighborhood together. Seize opportunities to design the prison site in a fashion that complements and maximizes Reservoir Park as a community anchor. Integrate neighborhood-serving commercial uses into new development, such as a grocer or food market. Although prison buildings and structures may ultimately be removed, commemorate the history of the neighborhood in ways most appropriate and desired by the surrounding community.   

Policy PB – 7:  Sunnyside Peninsula
Prioritize partnerships, projects, and land use regulations that will advance the vision for Sunnyside peninsula as a nature and recreation preserve on the north and ecologically sensitive residential uses on the south. Central to this vision is the reinvestment in the infrastructure serving the existing low-density households near S. Duke Street and the protection and management of natural lands that extend along the River and throughout the peninsula in the northern sections.    

See Policies CRF 4.3 and CRF 4.4 and Actions 4.3A, 4.3B, and 4.3C detailing further direction at Sunnyside.  

Policy PB – 8:  S Duke and Chesapeake Streets
Support the continued growth of mixed commercial and residential density, as this key intersection and immediate area continue to emerge as a community hub. Make safe and attractive pedestrian and bicycle connections to new housing, County park, and future riverfront amenities. Explore stronger ties between nearby workforce development programs, including at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology and Tec Centro and job opportunities here and along the S Duke corridor. 

Policy PB – 9:  Engleside
Establish land use regulations and capital plans that support the vision for the Engleside as a dense, mixed-use riverfront neighborhood. Engleside should serve as a crossroads for the southern quadrants of the City and capitalize on the relatively large scale of buildings, parcels, and infrastructure to generate economic activity.  Safe and inviting connections to the riverfront are necessary to create a special place that melds the unique natural and commercial assets of Engleside.  

See Policy CRF 4.1 and Action CRF 4.1A detailing further direction at Engleside.  

Policy PB – 10:  Manor Street South
Invest in the revitalization of the southern end of Manor Street and encourage business growth that serves the immediate community, as well as upper floor residential units where feasible.  Beautify the hub area, attract economic interest, and instill a sense of pride among residents, using strategies such as streetscape and building façade improvements, and renovation of vacant properties. Make safe and vibrant pedestrian connections to the park and shopping centers just south of the City. 

Policy PB – 11:  Park City Mall Site
Work with the owner(s) of the Park City Mall properties to create a detailed vision and site plan for the next generation of development at this important regional hub. Given that the land area at this site is nearly as large as the City’s Downtown, any plan should emphasize the inclusion of residential options and the creation of a vibrant walkable place with a mix of uses. Development ideas could include a medium to high density town center concept and/or a phased integration of multifamily buildings with larger commercial stores. No significant land development changes should occur unless in accordance with a holistic plan.