Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the hours of operation?
The zoning office is open to the public from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays. We recommend that if someone is coming in to file an application that they come in no later than 3:00 p.m. The front counter and cashier for Code Enforcement closes at 4:00.

Do building permits require zoning approval?
All building permits require zoning approval, including those for interior renovations. However, only some will require a plot plan (change of use, new parking, additions, etc.). Contact the Zoning Officer to find out more.

Can I come in to look at someone’s plans or a specific file?
Yes. All of our files are public information. Once an application has been filed, it’s public record.

How can I find out if there is an occupancy permit for a property?
Contact Building Inspection at 870-1471.

Can a single-family home be turned into a two-family home if the zoning is R-2?
Not necessarily. The district allows a two-family dwelling but certain code requirements must be met, including side yard setbacks, lot area, and parking requirements. You should speak to one of the zoning specialists

How do I change zoning?
You will need to speak to the Zoning Officer. Make sure your intention is to change the zoning of a property rather than simply wanting to change the use of the property. For complete sequence of the procedure, see Rezoning Procedures.

When is a zoning certificate required?
Zoning certificates shall be obtained at the request of the property owner, at the time of a change of a nonconforming use to another nonconforming use, at the time of a creation of a nonconforming use, or when changing a nonconforming use to a conforming use.

How can I resolve a dispute about a property line?
There isn’t anything that can be done by the City. You should contact a private surveyor, and afterwards a District Justice or an Attorney.

What are the restrictions on putting up a fence?
Fence Details are shown at this link. Maximum height is 6’6” in a Residential District and 8’6” in a Non-Residential District. Any enclosure may be placed up to, but Not Exceed the property line. You may also refer to the Zoning Ordinance, Article 2 section 204.19.

Do I need special approval to run my business out of my home?
We refer to this as a home occupation. A home occupation is defined as ‘ A commercial or commercial activity administered or conducted as an accessory use which is clearly secondary to the use as a residential dwelling and which involves no customer, client or patient traffic, whether vehicular or pedestrian, pickup, deliver or removal functions to or from the premises, in excess of those normally associated with residential use.

The commercial or commercial activity must satisfy the following requirements:
(a) the commercial activity shall be compatible with the residential use of the property and surrounding residential uses
(b) the commercial shall have no employees
(c) there shall be no display or sale of retail goods and no stockpiling or inventory of a substantial nature
(d) there shall be no outside appearance of a commercial use, including, but not limited to, parking, signs, or lights
(e) The commercial activity may not use any equipment or process which creates noise, vibration, glare, fumes, odors, or electrical or electronic interference,
(f) The commercial activity shall be conducted only within the dwelling and may not occupy more than 25% of the habitable floor area
(g) The business may not involve any illegal activity.
Who do I contact about a subdivision of a property?
You will need to speak to Jenna Bisel at (814) 870-1265.

What are the requirements in combining two or more existing lots into one parcel?
You, as the property owner, must prepare a “composite deed” which contains a revised metes and bounds description of the consolidated parcel. The deed must be recorded at the Erie County Recorder of Deeds office. For more information, you can visit the County website at or call the Recorder of Deeds office at (814) 451-6246

Can I obtain a copy of the zoning code and/or maps?
The Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Maps are available in print at the Department of Code Enforcement, (Erie City Hall, 626 State Street Room 407 in Downtown Erie) for $15 each. There are also downloadable links available on this website.
Zoning Ordinance
Zoning Map
Please contact the Zoning Office at (814) 870-1265 with any questions concerning the zoning code. Also, be sure to visit the Zoning Office Fee Schedule.

Who do I contact regarding group homes, person care boarding homes, and day care centers?
You should contact Jenna Bisel, Zoning Officer, at (814) 870-1265.

Who do I contact regarding floodplain information?
Contact the Engineering Department at (814) 870-1371.

How can I obtain a handicapped parking space on the street, have yellow lines painted, etc?
Contact the Traffic Division of the Department of Engineering at (814) 870-1396.
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