Planning System 1 Strengthening Neighborhoods & Housing

A neighborhood is the unit by which city life is organized. Neighborhoods foster our sense of belonging, and help to create our collective identity. All of Lancaster’s residents deserve the chance to succeed and thrive – not in spite of their surroundings, but because of them. We aim to create stable, supportive, and equitable neighborhoods across Lancaster City where all residents have the same access to social capital, safe housing, green spaces, economic opportunity, and essential public services.


Policy SNH – 1.1: Housing Production
Encourage and welcome housing production in Lancaster City. Minimize regulatory barriers such as lengthy approval processes, exclusive zoning, minimum habitable floor areas, and restrictive parking requirements. Allow and incentivize a variety of different housing types throughout the city, particularly multi-family dwelling types. 

Action SNH – 1.1A: Housing Strategy Implementation and Targets
Implement the City’s Interim Housing Strategy.  Using the Strategy’s main program tools, continue to fulfill the Produce, Protect, Acquire, Innovate, and Sustain goals and track progress against stated five-year targets. 

Policy SNH – 1.2: Housing Preservation
Partner with Lancaster City Housing Authority and other relevant agencies and organizations to maintain and upgrade housing units that contribute to a sound supply of subsidized and naturally occurring affordable homes for City residents. This may include the exploration of new financial models to achieve economic feasibility for property managers and developers, including voucher match programs. 

Policy SNH – 1.3: Housing Affordability
Prioritize the production and preservation of affordable housing, including projects that mix affordable and market-rate housing units. Analyze development regulations including zoning, SALDO, and the Official Map to identify ways to promote affordable housing. Expand affordable housing options where few exist, particularly in the northern half of the city.  

Action SNH – 1.3A: Funding Sources
Continue to use federal funds such as HOME and CDBG to subsidize affordable housing.  Tap into additional revenue sources to support housing affordability, such as Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and PHARE. 

Action SNH – 3.B: Housing Partnerships
Partner with landowners or large sites and/or multiple properties to identify opportunities for future affordable housing development and construct affordable housing where feasible.

Policy SNH – 1.4: Housing Quality and Safety
Proactively protect residential properties and structures through inspections and property maintenance actions. Promote and support programs that improve the quality of both renter- and owner-occupied housing, such as Lead Remediation, Healthy Homes, and the Critical Repair Grants and Loans. Expand support to address other habitability issues such as accessibility, energy efficiency, radon, security and entryways, and pest control. (See also Policies BCC-1.5 and 1.6)

Policy SNH – 1.5: Homelessness
Support the expansion and management of human and homeless services to ensure equitable access for all individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Collaborate with the Lancaster County Homelessness Coalition (LCHC), Lancaster County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and other community partners to provide adequate shelter space, transitional and independent living facilities, and wrap-around essential services.

Action SNH – 1.5A: Homeless Shelter Capacity
Partner with the Homelessness Coalition and appropriate County agencies to expand the number of low-barrier, emergency shelter beds available to persons experiencing homelessness.  Establish a supportive services center that can serve as a hub for emergency needs and transitional housing.  

Action SNH – 1.5B: Regulation of Extremely Low-Income Housing
Revisit zoning definitions and approval processes for housing serving extremely low-income persons, including day or night emergency shelters, transitional and supportive housing, residential care facilities, and group homes. 

Policy SNH – 1.6: Housing Inclusion and Innovation
Embrace novel and inclusive forms of housing to meet the diverse needs of all residents. Enable housing innovation such as home sharing, co-housing, accessory dwelling units, tiny homes, micro apartments, and multi-generational housing. Encourage the integration of accessible or visitable design elements in housing to better meet the needs of older adults and persons with disabilities. 

Action SNH – 1.6A: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
Create a clear approval pathway for property owners looking to add an accessory dwelling unit. Reduce regulatory barriers to creating ADUs, such as rear yard setbacks, parking, and exclusionary zoning. Promote multilingual educational resources that clarify the ADU approval process and support ADU development.

Policy SNH – 1.7: Energy-Efficient Rehabilitation
Improve the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock to address climate change and reduce utility costs. Incorporate weatherization and green energy improvements into home rehab/repair programs, such as Healthy Homes, Critical Repair, or Redevelopment Authority (RACL) and Land Bank projects. Educate residents and support access to rebates or tax credits for energy star products, renewable energy use, and energy efficiency improvements. 

Policy SNH – 1.8: Housing Security
Enable residents to stay in their current homes and neighborhoods. Support existing low-income homeowners through loans and grants for home improvements, especially for conditions that may result in condemnation or displacement. 

Action SNH — 1.8A: Home Repair Programs
Further develop the menu of options for renters and homeowners to protect and preserve the City’s aging housing stock through partnerships with other public or private sector funders.  The intent is to bolster or complement the City’s successful Critical Repair and Lead Remediation programs to reach more homes more quickly and expand the impact on housing quality and safety.  

Policy SNH – 1.9: Home Ownership
Expand homeownership among low- and moderate-income households to grow generational wealth and reduce the threat of displacement.  Support programming to acquire occupied rental units for rehabilitation and sale to tenants.

Action SNH – 1.9A: First Time Home Buyer Program
Continue the First-Time Home Buyer Program, which helps eligible lower-income residents become homeowners and seek resources to serve more eligible households, particularly in the southern quadrants of the city.


Policy SNH – 2.1: Preservation in City Processes
Integrate historic preservation guidance and enforcement in the planning, building, zoning, and development review process. Reduce demolition by neglect through increased education, citations, and preservation incentives.  

Action SNH – 2.1A: Integration of Historic Preservation and Development Review
Identify and address common sources of conflict between zoning, SALDO and historic district requirements.   Include preservation staff on inspection sign-offs with significant HARB or Historical Commission requirements or conditions.  

Policy SNH – 2.2: Historic and Cultural Education & Tourism
Bolster historic and cultural tourism as an economic development tool. Strengthen public understanding of Lancaster’s diverse cultures, architecture, and history through interpretive signs and plaques, walking/biking tours, special events, and partnerships with allied organizations. 

Policy SNH – 2.3: Inclusive Preservation
Ensure that preservation efforts are culturally inclusive and recognize the contributions of all communities to the city’s history and development. Elevate destinations associated with historically marginalized communities and those located in areas outside of the downtown. 

Policy SNH – 2.4: Restoration Trades
Support job growth in building restoration trades so that these resources become more available and accessible to all communities within the city. Support and partner with organizations providing education, training, and apprenticeship programs in historic building restoration and related fields. 

Policy SNH – 2.5: Preservation & Reuse of Historic Building Materials
Recognize the sustainability benefits of reusing and recycling existing building materials, including reduced landfill waste, lower carbon emissions, and less raw material consumption.  Support deconstruction as an alternative to demolition through incentives, partnerships, and training, including safety measures for handling hazardous building materials. 

Policy SNH – 2.6: Equitable Resources for Preservation and Maintenance
Support property owner efforts to preserve the integrity of their buildings when upgrading to meet current codes and standards.  Assist low and moderate-income home or business owners in complying with property maintenance standards in ways that support historic preservation goals.   

Action SNH – 2.6A: Historic Preservation Fund
Establish a historic preservation and property maintenance fund to assist low-income homeowners in complying with related requirements or citations. Explore methods of sustaining the fund, such as grant funding, private philanthropy, and dedicated revenue through code compliance or demolition by neglect revenue. 

Policy SNH – 2.7: Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings
Require and incentivize the reuse, conversion, and rehabilitation of historic buildings in a manner that is compatible with future land uses and surrounding neighborhoods. Promoting adaptive reuse should be at the heart of the City’s approach to redevelopment. 

Action SNH – 2.7A:  Aligning Local Regulations
Identify, study, and address common sources of disparity between zoning, SALDO, building codes, and historic district requirements. Adjust or develop new review processes to deal with interrelated urban design and historic character issues, such as height, massing, and fenestration, and to incentivize preservation and adaptive reuse.  

Policy SNH – 2.8: Architectural Standards for New Development
Promote development guidelines and codes that encourage compatibility with surrounding historic development patterns and architecture.  Guidelines and codes also should ensure that modifications to historic properties are visually compatible with the property’s contributing features and flexible where appropriate.

Policy SNH – 2.9: Historic Resource Inventories
Maintain and periodically update inventories of local historic resources, using methods and definitions that are consistent with state and federal criteria.  Historic resources may include sites associated with important historic events or people, archaeological resources, and landscape elements, in addition to older buildings.

Action SNH-2.9A: Historic District Evaluation
Research and identify neighborhoods that may meet the qualifications for inclusion in the city’s Heritage Conservation District and/or the National Register District and pursue the expansion of those districts accordingly. Submit proposals in accordance with state and federal guidelines for approval and adopt local ordinance revisions as needed.


Policy SNH – 3.1: Priority Commercial Hubs and Corridors
Create thriving commercial hubs and corridors that provide a sense of identity, convenient locations for goods and services, and gathering places for surrounding neighborhoods.   Strategically focus investment and revitalization in these areas in a way that reinforces the City’s economic development strategies (see Element EEO-2) and implements the street typology and future land uses in the Comprehensive Plan.

Action SN-3.1A: Hub and Corridor Map
Develop and maintain a map of priority commercial hubs and corridors used for land use, transportation, and economic development planning with Lancaster City Alliance and other partners. 

Policy SNH – 3.2: Neighborhood Service Initiatives
Focus City service intervention and partner organization resources on blocks and neighborhoods with the most critical and urgent needs. Continue to update and refine data-driven methods for identifying priority areas for housing, streetscape, safety, green space, and infrastructure improvements, such as the Block Strength Indicator (BSI). 

Policy SNH – 3.3: Vacant and Blighted Properties
Support the rehabilitation of vacant and blighted properties in ways that retain their affordability and benefit the community. Such properties should be moved promptly and fairly through the reinvestment process by connecting property owners with services and resources.  Acquisition should be used as a last resort.  

Action SNH – 3.3A: Properties with Promise Revitalization Guide
Complete Properties with Promise: A Working Revitalization Strategy for Eliminating and Preventing Blight to guide the work of the Property Reinvestment Board, Redevelopment Authority, and Land Bank Authority, which work together to put vacant and condemned properties into full productive use.

Policy SNH – 3.4: Investment Sites
Proactively conduct community visioning, charettes, and small area planning around key investment sites that are likely to be redeveloped within the next 5-10 years. Ensure that zoning, SALDO, and related regulations enable and reflect community vision. 

Policy SNH – 3.5: At-Risk Institutional Properties
Preserve and maintain iconic institutional buildings, including those that may be at risk of vacancy, deterioration, underuse, or disposition. Collaborate with owners and potential development partners to develop strategies for acquisition, shared use, maintenance, energy efficiency, or adaptive reuse with a focus on continued local stewardship and community benefit. 


Policy SNH – 4.1: Neighborhood Businesses and Services
Expand the availability and variety of neighborhood-scale goods and services.  Encourage the retention of existing commercial storefronts for small businesses and neighborhood-serving uses.    

Action SNH – 4.1A: Zoning for Neighborhood Business
Revise zoning regulations and development review procedures as needed to support the goal of having convenient neighborhood-serving businesses in all parts of the city.  This may include additional limits or prohibitions on ground floor residential uses in areas where commercial uses are desired.

Policy SNH – 4.2:  Neighborhood Identity
Foster a strong sense of neighborhood identity by sustaining anchor institutions such as schools and community centers, maintaining quality parks and public spaces, and enhancing neighborhood gateways and memorable features.  

Policy SNH – 4.3: Design Compatibility
Encourage architectural and landscape design that respects local context and natural features, is compatible in scale with surrounding development, and contributes to the character of existing neighborhoods.  Development regulations should recognize the qualities that contribute to neighborhood livability while balancing the need for more density and greater economic vitality. 

Policy SNH – 4.4: Property Maintenance
Support the maintenance of private buildings and yards by residents and businesses.  Maintain code enforcement and nuisance abatement programs that maintain the visual quality of neighborhoods and sustain continued property investment.  

Policy SN – 4.5: Lighting
Ensure that pedestrian and vehicular ways are well-lit for safety and security, while maintaining visibility of the night sky to the greatest extent possible.  Prioritize neighborhoods with limited existing lighting and those that tend to experience higher crime rates. Eliminate nuisance lighting and expand the use of energy efficient and smart lighting technology.  

Action SN – 4.5A:  Lighting Study & Standards
Develop an integrated lighting plan / design standards for the city. Identify appropriate lighting treatments according to street types, land uses, and urban context. The plan should support public safety, bike and pedestrian planning, Dark-Sky standards, energy efficiency, and safety and security goals, and incorporate emerging technologies.