PLANNING COMMISSION PROCESS

Planning Commission Process

ABOUT THE PLANNING COMMISSION

The Planning Commission reviews and has approval authority over major development proposals and redevelopment plans.  The Commission also makes recommendations to City Council concerning the Zoning Ordinance and zoning maps. The Commission reviews various types of projects in specific zoning districts, Zoning Map and Code changes, master plans, conditional uses, lot consolidations and subdivisions, and historic nominations.

PLANNING COMMISSION MEETINGS

City Planning Commission meetings are held every other Tuesday beginning in the early afternoon. They are located downtown on the 1st floor of the Civic Building at 200 Ross Street.  

Planning Commission agendas, applicant presentations, and minutes are posted online.  To receive the agenda by email, please contact zoning@pittsburghpa.gov. 

Briefing

At approximately 1 PM, the Commission hears project briefings off of the official record.  The public is welcome to observe, but no public comments are taken.  The briefing portion of the meeting provides an initial presentation to the Commission, then projects typically return in two weeks on the Hearing and Action agenda. 

Hearing and Action

Hearing and Action begins no earlier than 2 PM.  Applicants make a presentation again, including any revisions or additional information requested by the Commission during briefing.  Public comment is then accepted—limited to 3 minutes per person, per project.  The Commission usually votes on projects the same day they are presented for Hearing and Action. 

PLANNING COMMISSION PRESENTATIONS

Two presentations are required to receive Planning Commission approval—Briefing and then Hearing and Action. City Planning staff introduces each project before the applicant’s presentation. In most cases we recommend that the property owner and project designer attend the meetings; either party can make the presentation. 

Planning Commission presentations should generally be no longer than 10-15 minutes.  Electronic presentations are required and a computer and projector are available. Submit digital presentations as a single pdf a week prior to the Briefing. 

WILL NEIGHBORS BE NOTIFIED?

It is strongly recommended that applicants to the Planning Commission reach out to neighbors and local community organizations in advance of the hearing. Planning staff can provide contact information for relevant community groups, if necessary.

If the project is within the boundaries of a Registered Community Organization (RCO), a Development Activities Meeting with the community may be required, depending on the scope of the project. If required, the meeting must take place at least 30 days before the first City public hearing.

AFTER PLANNING COMMISSION

For development projects, please review the “After Planning Commission” handout which covers the final review process.  Please contact staff to address any conditions before proceeding to the Zoning Counter for a voucher.

For projects requiring City Council approval, please review the “After Planning Commission” handout which covers this process.

MINUTES AND TRANSCRIPTS

Planning Commission minutes will be available on the City Planning website as soon as they are approved by Planning Commission.   To order a transcript of the hearing, please call Network Deposition Services at 412-281-7908.  A fee will be charged for transcripts.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

One week prior to the Planning Commission meeting, please email the complete Planning Commission presentation in pdf format to Kate Rakus, Principal Planner, at kate.rakus@pittsburghpa.gov. (For large file sizes, a cd or use of ftp site is acceptable.)  Staff will review the presentations for completeness. Submissions are complete when the plans and images clearly convey the design and context. Only complete applications will be included on the agenda; projects with incomplete or late application sets will be held until documentation is complete.

The agenda is set the Thursday prior to the Planning Commission meeting. The project presentations are posted with the agendas to the City Planning website.

INSTITUTIONAL MASTER PLAN

The applicant must submit the Institutional Master Plan and present:

  • Location map
  • All of the proposed projects in the 10-year development plan
  • Transportation study by Traffic Engineer
  • Sustainability and Stormwater Management summary
  • Accessibility & Universal Design summary
  • Community process summary
  • Medium and Large Academic Institutions should also review the IMP Best Practices Guide (for Medium and Large Academic Institutions)

HIGH WALL AND PUBLIC DESTINATION SIGNAGE

The applicant must submit and present:

  • Site plan indicating proposed sign location
  • Accurate elevation illustration of sign on building
  • Section drawing illustrating how sign is to be attached to the building
  • Description of lighting and materials of sign
  • View of sign from important vantage points
  • Illustration of the extent of visibility of the sign
  • Alternative locations considered
  • Community process summary (one slide)

NEW CONSTRUCTION OR EXTERIOR RENOVATION

The applicant must submit and present:

  • Introductory slide with project address, zoning district, and brief description of project
  • Location map
  • Site plan with graphic scales and dimensions, and including adjacent context
  • Labeled photos of surrounding context
  • Elevations (with dimensions) of all sides visible from a street
  • Landscaping plans
  • Perspective drawings (including eye-level perspectives) rendered accurately and showing surrounding context
  • Building materials information or board (board recommended for larger projects)
  • Construction Management Plan summary (one slide)
  • Sustainability & Stormwater Management summary (one slide)
  • Accessibility & Universal Design summary (one slide)
  • Community process summary (one slide)

As applicable, complete applications may include the following items:

  • Transportation study by Traffic Engineer
  • Relationship to overall PLDP or Master Plan
  • Automobile and bicycle parking plans

Please do not include interior floor plans or images, unless specifically relevant to approval criteria.

ZONE CHANGE PETITION

The applicant must submit and present:

  • Location map
  • Labeled photos of site and surrounding context
  • General information about possible future uses 
  • Community process summary (one slide)

OTHER APPLICATION TYPES

Please contact City Planning staff to discuss requirements for other application types, including Specially Planned Districts and PUDs.   

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For questions or more information, contact Kate Rakus, Principal Planner, at kate.rakus@pittsburghpa.gov or 412-255-2470 ex. 3.