Zoning Check

Understand what zoning means for your business before you choose a location

Do not sign a lease or purchase property until you've checked with the city to make sure the building can be used for your business type.


Different business types are only allowed in certain parts of the city. It is illegal to run a business in a building that is not zoned for that type of activity. Contact the Zoning department to confirm that your business type is allowed in your desired location and zone. It is helpful to select 2-3 locations that would be a good fit for your business before contacting the Zoning department. 

You may be able to receive a Special Permit if the property isn't zoned for for your type of business. To find out if a Special Permit is required for your business location, please consult the Zoning Ordinance for your district. 

Syracuse Zoning Ordinances

You should also check parking minimums for each location based on your business type. You may be able to receive a waiver if there is not enough parking. 

When in doubt, contact the Zoning department.


City Hall Commons
2nd Floor
201 E Washington St # 211

You can find out more about the Department of Zoning by visiting their website.

Site Plan

The City requires you to provide a site plan showing the interior and exterior layout of the business. Draw out how you want the layout of your building. For small projects, such as a fence, you may be able to draw this yourself, working carefully with a pencil and ruler. You should use a scale, such as 1 inch for every foot (1:1). We recommend hiring an architect to help you create these drawings for larger projects. Have a look at this example drawing to understand what’s necessary.

Example Site Plan Drawing

Historic Property Reviews

Buildings with Local Protected Site status, or located in Local Preservation District will require a Certificate of Appropriateness if you plan to change its inside or outside appearance. Even minor changes such as painting can require approval. The Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board (SLPB) manages this process.

Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board (SLPB)

You might be interested in a historic building. To find out if the property is in a Local Protected Site or in a Local Preservation District, check the address.

Check the address of a historic building (PDF)

If it is, you will need a Certificate of Appropriateness, as well as building permits before any construction project. Commercial properties, or residential properties with more than 4 units will need Project Site Review from the Zoning office and from the SLPB. You may also need approval by the Planning Commission or Board of Zoning Appeals.

Find out if your property is subject to review from the SLPB

If the project will involve the use of state or federal funding, or the developer will be seeking state or federal tax credits and the property (individually or as part of a district) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or  is eligible to be listed, approval from the New York State State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is required

Find out more about tax credits
State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)

Multiple reviews

Some projects will require historic review at the local level (SLPB) and the state level (SHPO), and possibly the federal level (National Park Service). Most commonly these projects are exterior work on commercial properties that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (individually or as part of a district), and involve state or federal funding and/or tax credits. There are also instances where a property is listed both on the National Register (individually or as part of a district), and is designated as a Local Protected Site or part of a Local Preservation District.

National Register of Historic Places in Onondaga County

For any questions, or to help coordinate multiple reviews, please contact:

Kate Auwaerter
Preservation Planner


On This Page

  • Understand the effect zoning can have on my plans
  • Learn about limitations on historic properties and the historic review process