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  • Construction Crane
    Development Process
    The following describes the approval process for a major project, i.e., commercial or residential buildings with related site work.  
        • Pre-Development Meeting
        • Reviews Prior to Application

    Notify City of proposed project
       The developer contacts the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development to notify the City of the proposed project, and requests a pre-development meeting. 
               Youlanda Johnson
             Construction Development Corrdinator
             Department of Neighborhood & Business Development
             Central Permit Office
             (315) 448-4714       
    A pre-development meeting is scheduled if it is determined that no major obstacles to development exist. 
    > Developer or architect submits preliminary plans via email for initial review prior to pre-development meeting.  
    Pre-Development Meeting      
    A pre-development meeting is held with the developer and all applicable City departments including Engineering, Fire, Neighborhood & Business Development, Planning & Sustainability, Police, Public Works, Water, and Zoning.  
    The developer is encouraged to bring the project’s architect, engineer, contractors, and other professionals to the pre-development Meeting. The developer will present the project time lines and plans, and City staff will identify and discuss any development challenges and concerns, and outline any known issues at that time.
    During this meeting the developer is notified of the relevant city and other municipal approvals required for this project.
    Staff from the Central Permit Office and the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development will be present and available to help facilitate the process.
    Within a few days after the pre-development meeting, the developer is given a summary of the feedback provided at the meeting. The developer is also given a contact list of the City staff attending the pre-development meeting, as well as other City staff who may be involved in reviewing their plans, so the developer can pursue any outstanding issues with the appropriate person.  
    Reviews Prior to Application   

    Virtually every major development project requires a Zoning review and or approval. Zoning reviews are addressed below.

    One or more of the following reviews also may apply to development projects, and can often take several weeks or longer to complete. Developers are advised to contact City representatives to initiate these reviews as early as possible to avoid project delays.

    Stormwater Management Reviews (Engineering Dept.) – You must comply with all applicable stormwater management requirements prior to any approval by the City Engineering Department if the project (construction or demolition of buildings, site clearing, filling, grading or excavating, road building, etc.) proposes: 
    to disturb 10,000 sf or more of land (stripping or grading which affects more than 10,000 sf of ground surface within any parcel or any contiguous area)
    excavation or filling that exceeds a total of 300 cubic yards within any parcel or contiguous area 
    site preparation on sites which exceed 15% slope or result in slopes in excess of 15% (however, when this is the only threshold met, the Director may deem small projects, which in his judgment do not present an adverse environmental impact, as not meeting this threshold). 
    For state and local stormwater management documents, please visit the Engineering Department's web page . For any questions about stormwater management reviews required for your project, please contact John Kivlehan, Division Engineer, at (315) 448-8205 or

    Traffic Study (Dept. of Public Works/Transportation) – Transportation Impact Studies (TIS) may be required when changes in land use, new development, or site access are proposed. A TIS evaluates the effects that a change in traffic volumes or travel patterns will have on the transportation network.

    A TIS may be required for a project that is expected to result in 100 or more added (new) trips during the adjacent roadways peak hour or the development’s peak hour. The TIS should include a site plan and capacity analysis of existing, future no-build and future build conditions. The TIS must use the latest version of SYNCHRO, and must include all site access points and all signalized intersections that are expected to see an increase of 100+ vehicles per hour.

    All traffic impact study (TIS) scopes should be reviewed and accepted by the City prior to start of study to determine study area and what specific analysis may need to be included. For additional information, click here.

    Developers will learn at the pre-development meeting if a traffic study is required, but advance contact with the Department of Public Works is encouraged. For questions, please contact Paul Mercurio, Transportation Planner, at (315) 448-8511 or

    Curb Cuts (Dept. of Public Works/Transportation) – To maintain a safe and pedestrian-friendly environment, requests for new curb cuts will be reviewed carefully. If a site has an existing curb cut(s) the developer may be required to demonstrate that development without an additional curb cut(s) would create a financial hardship. Curb cut applications, and if applicable, documentation of hardship must be submitted with zoning applications so the curb cut request can be reviewed in context with the entire project.

    For questions, please contact Paul Mercurio, Transportation Planner, at (315) 448-8511 or

    Historic Property Reviews 
    State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)

    Approval from the SHPO is required if:


          the project will involve the use of state or federal funding, or
          the developer will be seeking state or federal tax credits 
          the property (individually or as part of a district) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or  
          is eligible to be listed.
    Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board (SLPB)  

    Approval from the SLPB is required if:

          the project proposes a material change of appearance to a Local Protected Site or to a property within a Local Preservation District. To find a list of Local Protected Sites and Local Preservation Districts and to apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness, please refer to additional information on historic preservation.

    Review by the SLPB is also required if:

          the project proposes minor or major exterior renovations on commercial properties or residential properties with more than 4 units. These projects require Project Site Review from the Zoning Office. Zoning refers projects affecting inventoried architecturally significant properties, properties located within a National Register District, individually listed, or eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places to the SLPB for review. Approval by the Planning Commission or Board of Zoning Appeals may also be required.


    Multiple Historic Reviews – some projects will require historic review at the local level (SLPB) and the state level (SHPO), and possibly also the federal level (National Parks Service). The most common situations requiring multiple historic reviews are exterior projects on commercial properties that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (individually or as part of a district), and involve state or federal funding and/or tax credits. There are also instances where a property is listed both on the National Register (individually or as part of a district), and is designated as a Local Protected Site or part of a Local Preservation District.

    For any questions about historic reviews or approvals or to help coordinate multiple reviews, please contact Kate Auwaerter, Preservation Planner, at 448-8108 or


    At the Pre-Development Meeting, the Zoning Administrator will advise what type of review is needed for the project, and will provide the developer with the necessary application(s), if applicable.   
    Administrative Reviews  – The Zoning Administrator is authorized to approve certain types of zoning applications, including: Project Site Review, for commercial properties, and more than four dwelling units,  
          1) which comply with either adopted plans or design criteria, and
          2) which do not require waivers
    Local Board Reviews  – a public hearing must be held for certain types of zoning reviews:  
    >   Planning Commission  – reviews uses outlined in Zoning Ordinance as applicable  
    > Board of Zoning Appeals  – reviews variance requests (Use and Area), and gives interpretations of the Zoning Ordinance.
    Potential Additional Reviews for Zoning Approval:   
    >   Other City Departments    
    Onondaga County Planning Board (OCPB)
    Syracuse Common Council
    Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board (SLPB)

    Developers are encouraged to pursue zoning code review simultaneous with building code review. However, due to the substantial cost of professionally certified drawings and plans required to issue building permits, most developers have only preliminary plans prepared, with final documents produced and submitted to the Permit Office after zoning issues have been resolved. A second meeting with City departments is recommended, and may be required, when construction plans have changed substantially from preliminary plans.  
    Building Codes Review  
    Major projects will require eight (8) full sets of stamped drawings, two (2) stamped site plans, a stamped survey and three (3) sets of specs.  
    The developer submits the required documents, which were outlined at the Pre-Development meeting, to the Permit Desk (315) 448-8600. By the end of the following business day plans are routed for review, comments, and approval to the following departments: Codes, Zoning, Fire, and depending on the project, Law, Water, Engineering, DPW/Traffic, and the County Plumbing Control.
    Each department conducts a concurrent review of the plans, documenting the conditions for final site plan approval.

    Building Permit  
    Approximately seven (7) to ten (10) working days after permit application, the building permit will be issued (assuming all pertinent City departments have given their approval thereto).   
    Inspection Review  
    An initial inspection will begin approximately three (3) to five (5) working days subsequent to permit issuance. The owner or contractor should call to schedule this inspection. Depending on the complexity of the project the following inspections may apply:  
    a.   Footing before pouring concrete (building inspector);  
    b. Foundation before backfill (building inspector);
    c. Framing before enclosing (building inspector);
    d. Sprinkler before closing (sprinkler inspector);
    e. Electric before enclosing (electrical inspector);
    f. Elevator (elevator inspector contracted by City);
    g. Fire Alarm/Security (fire);
    h. Plumbing before enclosing (County plumbing control inspector);
    i. Heating, ventilation, air conditional before enclosing (HVAC inspector);
    j. Insulation before enclosing (building inspector); and
    k. Final inspection (all of the above complete a final inspection, though not simultaneously).
    Certificate of Occupancy  
    A Certificate of Occupancy will be issued subsequent to all life safety issues being completed and approved by the pertinent City department. In the event all life-safety issues have been complete, but issues that are not related to life-safety are outstanding, it will be at the discretion of the pertinent City department as to whether a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy may be issued. A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy is generally issued for a 90-day period. The project will be re-inspected to obtain a permanent Certificate of Occupancy.  
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