The planning function of the Planning and Zoning Department is performed through administration of all land use codes and regulations, providing technical advice, information, and support to Harlem’s citizens, Planning & Zoning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, and City Council to assist them with land use issues and decisions, and implementation of the Harlem Comprehensive Plan. If you have any questions please call (706) 556-0043 to speak with department staff.

What is zoning?

Zoning is a system of land-use planning that separates land into districts by use, such as residential, commercial, and industrial. Currently, the City has five residential districts, three business districts, one professional, one industrial, one agricultural, and one Planned Unit Development district. A breakdown of each use by district is as follows:

To view the official zoning map of the City of Harlem, please click here.


R-1A Single-family

R-1B Single-family

R-2 Multi-family duplex

R-3 Multi-family apartment

R-4 Townhouse


B-1 Downtown Business

B-2 Local Business

B-3 General Business


P-1 Professional

Planned Unit Development



A-1 Agricultural


I-1 Industrial

These district classifications are overlaid onto individual parcels in the City and form the zoning map of the City which is available here. For more information on what uses are permitted in each classification please see Title XV, Chapter 152 of the Code of Ordinances .

What is a historic district?

The City of Harlem has three local historic districts: the Central, Sanders, and Sawdust. Property designated by these overlay districts are subject to design review by the Historic Preservation Commission. For a map of the historic districts please click here. For more information on design review and the Historic Preservation Commission please click here.

What is a zoning action?

There are three types of zoning actions: rezoning, conditional use, and variance. These are discussed in more depth below.

A rezoning is required when a property owner wishes to change the land use district of their property to permit a new use or a change in density. An example would be changing a piece of property from residential to commercial. All requests for rezoning are required to go before the Planning & Zoning Commission for a recommendation and City Council for final action. For more information on that process please click here.

A conditional use permits a certain use of property that the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council have determined is a more intensive use than is normally permitted in that district. Because of the higher intensity of the use and the potential negative impact on surrounding property, conditional uses listed in the Code of Ordinances are required to go before the Planning & Zoning Commission for a recommendation and City Council for final action. For more information on that process please click here and for a listing of conditional uses by district please see Title XV, Chapter 152, Conditional Uses.

A variance permits a property owner, because of unusual, exceptional, or extraordinary circumstances or conditions applying to their property to request a change to required development codes that only applies to their lot. An example would be requesting a change to minimum front yard setbacks to allow for a house of the minimum size to be built on a parcel that otherwise would not be able to because of extraordinary circumstances or conditions. All variance requests are required to go before the Planning & Zoning Commission for a recommendation and City Council for final action. For more information on that process please click here.

All zoning actions have a fee. Please click here for the fee schedule.

What are the procedures for subdivision of property?

Generally, a preliminary plat will need to be reviewed and approved by department staff, the city engineer, and go through the Planning Commission. After minimum improvements are made and approved, a final plat may be filed. For more in depth information on the process please see Title XV, Chapter 155 of the Code of Ordinances.

What is the Comprehensive Plan?

The comprehensive plan is the official guiding document for the future of the city of Harlem. It is designed to formulate a coordinated, long-term planning program for the city. The plan, through the collaborative effort of citizens, elected officials, and city staff, establishes a vision and guides how that vision is to be achieved. It serves as a guide to both the public and private sector by providing a picture of how land will develop, how housing will be provided, how jobs will be attracted and retained, how open space and the environment will be protected, how public services and facilities will be provided, and how transportation facilities will be improved. Further, the plan guides elected and appointed officials as they deliberate community development issues and conveys policy and intended programs of action to residents. In short, the comprehensive plan is a unified document providing consistent policy direction. The Comprehensive Plan is scheduled for an update in 2016 and a short term work plan was performed in 2011. To view the comprehensive plan please click here.

For further information, please contact the department at (706) 556-0043.