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Contextual Overlays

The Contextual Overlay is a zoning tool that establishes design standards in a particular residential area. It can maintain and protect neighborhood form or character. A Contextual Overlay must apply throughout the residential portion of a complete block face, and cannot be applied in an adopted historic overlay district.

Contextual Overlays do not affect the base zoning of a property.

A Councilmember can request a Contextual Overlay to a specific area. A neighborhood can also request a Contextual Overlay, if all property owners sign the zone change application.

Contextual Overlays follow the zone change process.

Design Standards

Ordinance BL2014-771 created the Contextual Overlay and includes a full list of design standards, which include:

  • Setback
  • Height
  • Lot Coverage
  • Access, Garages, and Parking

The Contextual Overlay Fact Sheet includes examples of these design standards.

Permit Review Process

For property located within a Contextual Overlay, any new construction or additions to existing structures requires a site plan to be submitted and reviewed by the Zoning Administrator through Building Permit review.

The Department of Codes and Building Safety must review site plans for any new construction or additions to existing structures within a Contextual Overlay through Residential Building Permit Review.

Application and Fee

Contextual Overlay Application (New or Cancellation): $800

Existing Contextual Overlays