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Planning Administration

The Planning Administration section of the Department of City Developement's Planning Division staffs the City Plan Commission and works to implement the Comprehensive Plan by developing zoning tools and processing zoning change and land division applications. Planning Administration also reviews projects in overlay zones or planned development districts and projects that are referred to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

If you're wondering whether your project needs a permit or would like to request a zoning letter, the place to start is the Development Center of the Department of Neighborhood Services.

Zoning Information

The City's Zoning Ordinance is the primary tool for regulating land use and design in the City. Zoning consists of both the zoning code text and the zoning map. Planning works to develop specific zoning districts and tools, and administers changes to the text and map. The Development Center of Department of Neighborhood Services reviews all projects for compliance with the zoning ordinance.

Zoning Change

The City’s zoning map designates a base zoning district for all properties in the City of Milwaukee, and identifies any overlay zones. A property owner may apply to change their zoning designation by submitting an application to the Planning Administration section. If regular zoning does not meet the need, property owners may apply to establish a Planned Development District.

Land Division

Property owners needing to combine or divide lots to facilitate new development typically require a certified survey map (csm) or a subdivision plat, depending on the number of lots that are created. The Planning Division facilitates adoption and recording of Certified Survey Maps and Subdivision Plats in the City of Milwaukee.

Street and Alley Vacations

When land that is dedicated to the public is no longer needed for public purposes, adjacent property owners may petition the Common Council to vacate the dedication and reclaim the public land as private real estate.


Other Departments that work with Planning Administration

Development Center

The Development Center is part of the Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS). The Development Center reviews all projects for compliance with the zoning ordinance. If you're wondering whether your project needs a permit or would like to request a zoning letter, the place to start is the Development Center.

Board of Zoning Appeals

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) is an independent agency authorized to hear appeals in matters related to the zoning ordinances. Projects which require a variance or special use approval must go to BOZA. DCD's Planning Division, along with DNS and DPW, reviews all BOZA cases and provides a recomendation to the board.


Department of Public Works

In many cases development proposals will aslo be routed to the Department of Public Works (DPW) for Review. DPW reviews plans for stormwater management, traffic circulation and streetscaping, among other things. DPW also assists with the review of Land Divisions and Public Way Vacations.

Historic Preservation Commission

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) reviews projects in historic districts and issues Certificates of Appropriatness. HPC staff is housed within the City Clerks's Office.

For More Information

[email protected]

For information on permits and zoning letters please contact the Department of Neighborhood Services.

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