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 bi-weekly on Tuesday afternoon and are now meeting virtually. The meeting will be hosted on Zoom and streamed on YouTube Live on the Pittsburgh City Planning YouTube page. If you are not planning to testify, please watch the YouTube Live stream to allow those testifying to be able to join the meeting. To find out how to participate, please visit the Virtual Planning Commission page here.


At approximately 1 p.m., 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 p.m. 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. Speakers do not need to sign up in advance. 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. 


Planning Commission Testimony

After staff present at the Planning Commission Hearing, the Commissioners will call for public testimony. To find out how to participate in the Zoom Meeting and provide public testimony, please visit the Virtual Planning Commission page here


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. Once the final drawings are reviewed and all conditions of Planning Commission approval are met, staff will email the Record of Zoning Approval (ROZA). A ROZA is required to submit for a building permit with the Department of Permits Licenses and Inspections. Please do not file for a building permit until a ROZA is issued or until staff authorizes permit submission.

For projects requiring City Council approval, the “After Planning Commission" handout also 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. Meetings from June 2020 and later are also available to view on the City Planning YouTube channel.


Submission Requirements

Applicants must email digital presentation to staff as a single PDF by 9 am on the Tuesday of the week prior to Briefing, or they will forfeit the place on the agenda.  The project presentations are posted with the agenda to the Virtual Planning Commission page.  To ensure that the Commission and the public have time to review all the application documentation, the presentation and any other exhibits or submissions must be in by 9 am on the Tuesday before the meeting.  No changes or additional submissions will be accepted, although changes can be made after Briefing, before Hearing and Action. 

If at Briefing, the Commission asks the applicant to supplement the presentation, the updated presentation must be emailed to staff by 9 am on the Tuesday of the week prior to Hearing and Action.  Late presentations and submissions will not be accepted, to ensure the Commission and the public have time to review all the application documentation. 


New Construction or Exterior Renovation

The applicant must submit and present:

  • Introductory slide with project address, zoning district, and a brief description of the project
  • Location map 
  • Site plan with graphic scales and dimensions, and including adjacent context
  • Labeled photos of the surrounding context
  • Elevations, with dimensions, of all sides visible from a street
  • Landscaping plans
  • Perspective drawings, including eye-level perspectives, rendered accurately and showing the 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)


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 
  • 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) 


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