Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Zoning Ordinance?
The Zoning Ordinance is the adopted law of the City that regulates land use, growth, and development. It divides the city into different zone districts. The zone district regulations generally govern the types of uses and the location and size of development in each district. The Zoning Ordinance also includes provisions that establish the procedures for how development proposals are reviewed and approved or denied, and development and form standards such as those covering parking, landscaping, signs, building location and form, and resource protection.

The City’s current Zoning Ordinance can be found here.

2. What are the Land Development Regulations?
The Land Development Regulations are the adopted laws of the city or county that regulate the division and platting of land, prior to its development. They include regulations that govern lot division, road layout and standards, and other infrastructure requirements.

The City’s current regulations can be found here.

3. Why rewrite the Zoning Ordinance and Land Development Regulations?
Columbia’s Zoning Ordinance and Land Development regulations were last updated in the 1970s, and have been amended numerous times over the years on an ad hoc basis; consequently, they are cumbersome, not well organized, and not user-friendly. Furthermore, they no longer reflect best practices of modern planning and zoning techniques, and do not reflect the policy direction in Plan Columbia and the Columbia Plan 2018. The purpose of the rewrite is to address all these issues, and develop 21st Century regulations that are:

  • In accordance with and implement Plan Columbia;
  • User-friendly;
  • Align regulations with contemporary zoning best practices;
  • Protect and enhance the character of existing neighborhoods;
  • Support transit, biking, and pedestrian travel modes; and
  • Accommodate institutional uses, like the University of South Carolina.

4. How long will the project take?
A comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision rewrite is a significant undertaking. It is expected to take two years.

5. Who is managing the project?
The project is being conducted under the direction of the City’s Planning and Development Services Department, with assistance from Clarion Associates, McBride Dale Clarion, and Planning NEXT.

6. How will the project affect me?
The new Zoning Ordinance and Land Development regulations will be more user-friendly and easier to understand and navigate. They will be more graphically rich. In addition, they will be aligned with the City’s planning and development goals as set forth in Plan Columbia and the Columbia Plan 2018, and contemporary zoning best practices. There are a number of significant land use issues to be addressed by the new Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision regulations and these will be identified and discussed in more detail as the project progresses. Check this website regularly or join our email list to learn about opportunities to get involved or review work products.

7. Where can I get copies of project documents?

The Work Products page of this website will be updated regularly to include links to all documents produced as part of this effort, and supporting information.

About Plan Together


PLAN TOGETHER is a public process to gain extensive input from the community to help shape future development policies in Richland County and the City of Columbia.

For Columbia, this vision will be in the form of an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan that will be reviewed by Planning Commission and adopted by City Council. That amendment, titled Plan Columbia, Land Use Plan, was adopted by City Council in February 2015.

For Richland County, the vision will woven into a full update to the County’s Comprehensive Plan. This update was adopted by County Council in March 2015.

2. Why was this effort undertaken?

State law requires local governments to review their comprehensive plans at least once every five years. Richland County’s previous Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2009, while Columbia’s Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2008 and reviewed in 2013.  In an effort address changing growth trends and patterns, city and county choose to work together to update their respective plans.