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General Land Use (GLU) Policies & Actions

The policies in this section complement the maps in Sections 4.2 and 4.3. They serve the dual purpose of guiding development and guiding changes to land use regulations and development review procedures so that the vision expressed by this Plan can be realized. The policies align with those in Chapters 3 and 5. For instance, promoting mixed use development (Policy GLU-6 below) can reduce reliance on cars, spur economic development, and create housing opportunities. 

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 that 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 well-being. 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 understandable to those without technical expertise. Establish an integrated review process for boards, commissions, and authorities as a part of development approvals to reduce potential delays. Efficiency is paramount to support economic growth. The review process should achieve high quality land development and urban design, while recognizing economic realities and development costs.

 Action GLU–2A: Streamlining the Permit System 

Update the City’s permit application system to create a customer-friendly and integrated digital platform providing access to all City departments. The permitting process should be simple, streamlined, and easy for residents to navigate and understand.

Policy GLU–3: Flexibility and Responding to Change

Provide land use and building code regulations that are sufficiently flexible to respond to construction trends, changes in technology, market demand, and the evolving needs of local businesses. For example, the conversion of underused office space to residential uses should be accommodated in response to recent changes in the office market and workplace design.

Policy GLU–4: Inter-Municipal Planning and Development 

Coordinate land use planning with adjacent municipalities. This should include collaborative planning to address land use and physical development opportunities that cross political boundaries, as well as planning to address cross-jurisdictional issues such as transportation and water quality. 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–5: 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–5A: Change and Focus Areas

Undertake Small Area Plans (or similar scopes of work) in response to major, anticipated land use changes and/or where significant investment is occurring in neighborhoods, particularly in neighborhoods with Emerging Commercial Hubs. 

Policy GLU–6: 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. Residential density and commercial intensity should be highest in the city’s Urban Centers. 

Policy GLU–7: 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 smart growth opportunities. Work toward shared goals that mitigate traffic congestion, improve air quality, and preserve farmland.

Policy GLU–8: Jobs-Housing Balance 

Plan for a balanced mix of jobs and housing to sustain Lancaster City as a complete community with opportunities to live, work, shop, and play. Consider the needs of local residents and businesses when expanding the housing stock and growing the economic base.

Policy GLU–9: 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, including residential infill development where appropriate.

Policy GLU–10: Building Transitions

Promote logical transitions in urban form, particularly with respect to building placement and height. Each Future Land Use Category allows for a range of building heights so that new development can step “up” or “down” to adjacent buildings. Exceptions to this policy may be considered within designated Land Use Change Areas and Regional Commercial Hubs, as they establish new land use patterns. 

Policy GLU–11: Lot Consolidation 

Support the consolidation of underutilized or vacant parcels to create sites that are more viable for development, particularly in commercial and mixed use districts. Where larger sites are assembled, development should still respect the fine-grained character of nearby uses and should be articulated into multiple components rather than long, unbroken facades.

Policy GLU–12: Public and Institutional Land Uses

Recognize public and institutional land uses as potential neighborhood hubs and gathering places. Such facilities should provide safe, attractive places for the delivery of services and should foster interaction among residents and civic pride in the community. 

Policy GLU–13: Utility Coordination

Coordinate all Future Land Use Map changes with City utility planning. This includes an assessment of the availability of water, sewer, and stormwater facilities. Areas with utility capacity limitations should be identified early on so that improvements can be planned or development expectations are modified.