Residential Construction

What kinds of construction projects require City approvals?
Additions to buildings, garages, sheds, patios, decks, parking pads, walkways and swimming pools require City approvals related to lot coverage, storm water management, and construction. Depending on the project, a building permit may be required.

What is the first thing I should do when considering a construction project?
When considering a new construction project in the City of Lancaster you should first contact the Bureau of Planning’s Zoning Officer to discuss the details of your project, at which time you will be advised of what approvals are necessary.

To get started, you should have a site plan of your property showing existing and proposed improvements.  The plans should be drawn to scale (e.g., 1” = 20’) with dimensions and area calculations.

Here are some examples of site plans:
Site plan detached home
Site plan for semi-detached home
Site plan for row home

What is the stormwater ordinance?
The City of Lancaster is required by the state and federal government to control stormwater runoff that enters the City’s combined sewer system and adjacent waterways.  For development activities involving new impervious areas (i.e., surfaces that do not allow water to soak into the ground like concrete and asphalt; construction of new buildings or additions; pools, patios or decks) the City’s Stormwater Management Ordinance applies. To view the ordinance click here.

Essentially, if you live within the green area shown on the map above and you propose adding, removing, or reconstructing impervious area to your property, you must comply with the stormwater ordinance by submitting an application for a permit to the Stormwater Bureau:

For all questions or further information about permitting matters, please contact Kate Austin 717.517.5719 or austink@cityoflancasterpa.com.

How do I determine if I my project is small or large?
The City is divided into three watersheds, each with different regulations for controlling stormwater runoff: Conestoga River, Little Conestoga Creek and Mill Creek.

  • In the Mill and Little Conestoga Creek watersheds, projects up to 1,000 sq.ft. of new impervious surfaces require a small project watershed application but may be exempt from the requirement of submitting a professionally prepared drainage plan.
  • If the project is greater than 1,000 sq. ft. of new impervious surface, a professional drainage plan prepared by an engineer or landscape architect is necessary to reduce the stormwater flows by 50 percent.
  • If the project is greater than 5,000 sq. ft. of new impervious or semi-impervious areas a large project stormwater permit is required.
  • The runoff generated from the first inch of rain (referred to as the “First Flush”) may be controlled by directing the water to a sufficiently large, well-drained grass area on your property, use of in-ground stone infiltration trenches, in-ground dry wells or storage pipes, or other detention facilities that restrict flows into the sewer system.

Here is an example of a proposed “Small Project” building addition sample site plan The drawing is to scale and dimensioned. Existing and proposed improvements are shown.  Site data is provided for zoning approval and a storm water infiltration system is proposed and sized to collect roof water from the addition.

Your design must provide a satisfactory means for assuring that the run-off will not enter the combination storm/sanitary sewer. Your design must also consider how it will be impacted if it fills with dirt or leaves.  Such contamination will eventually cause your storm water system to fail

For the City of Lancaster Application for a Small Project “First Flush” Drainage Plan click here

  • In the Conestoga River watershed, projects greater than 5,000 sq. ft. of additional impervious surface require a drainage plan prepared by a professional engineer or landscape architect.

How do I determine how much stormwater I need to manage?
The first step is to determine how many square feet of new impervious surface is being created. Chart 1 gives examples of the area being created and the equivalent volume of water that must be captured or managed on-site.  Sometimes parking pads, patios and walks can be drained to an infiltration trench as shown in Figure 1, 2 and 3 (See attachment below for examples).  For capturing roof areas, infiltration trenches and piping can be employed as shown in Figure 7.  If you have limited yard areas in which to infiltrate storm water other options can be employed such as pipe storage(Figure 6), perforated dry wells (Figure 8), or rain barrels for very small projects where you wish to capture and use the water on plants and landscaping (Figure 10).  Small Project Storm Water Facilities – Figures 1 – 10

What are some other ways to reduce stormwater runoff?
In addition to the storm water controls discussed here, home owners and businesses are encouraged to consider how the planting of trees can further reduce the impacts of storm water runoff and reduce the amount of radiant heat generated by improvements on your property.

The Bureau of Planning will be happy to discuss your project with you and explore options for controlling run-off.

Contact Information
Physical Location:
City of Lancaster Municipal Building
120 North Duke Street

Mailing Address:
Bureau of Planning
City of Lancaster
P.O. Box 1599
Lancaster, PA 17608-1599

Planning Staff:
Paula Jackson
, Chief Planner
717-291-4754

Craig Lenhard, Senior Planner (stormwater questions)
717-291-4755

Suzanne Stallings, Historic Preservation Specialist
717-291-4726

Walt Siderio, City Zoning Officer
717-291-4736