Definition of Terms

Accessory Dwelling Unit

An Accessory Dwelling Unit is an independent, self-sufficient dwelling unit, with complete kitchen and bath facilities, which is either entirely contained within a single-family dwelling unit and has direct access to the outdoors, or which has a common hall with a single-family detached dwelling for occupancy by either an elderly, handicapped, or disabled person related by blood, marriage, or adoption to the occupants of the principal dwelling. An Accessory Dwelling Unit Permit is required. View the Accessory Dwelling and Zoning Hearing Board Application (PDF).  View the regulations regarding the installation of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (PDF).

Best Management Practices

Best management practices, commonly referred to as BMPs, are activities, facilities, designs, control measures or procedures used to manage stormwater impacts from regulated activities, to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation, to meet state water quality requirements, to promote ground water recharge. BMPs include but are not limited to infiltration, filter strips, low impact design, bio retention, wet ponds, permeable paving, vegetative swales, forested buffers, sand filters, and detention basins. For additional information, visit the public works department portion of the website, under Stormwater Management.

Codified Ordinance

A Codified Ordinance is simply the collection and organization of all Township adopted ordinances of a general and permanent nature into a numbered and organized document that is easy-to-read, search and easy-to-access. View the Township's Codified Ordinances.

Building Permit

A building permit is the permission granted by a local government to build a specific structure or reconfigure an existing building at a particular site. For example, when an individual desires to construct a small office building or home, a building permit must be obtained from the Township to allow the construction to proceed legally. For more information, please contact the Code Compliance Department.

Comprehensive Plan

A comprehensive plan is a policy document adopted by the Board of Commissioners that establishes a variety of goals, objectives, and initiatives to be implemented to reach a desired vision for the future. The plan consists of maps, charts and text that describe the vision for the future growth and development of a municipality, region or county including the location, character and timing of future development.

Conditional Use

A conditional use is a use provided for in a zoning ordinance once certain standards are met and provided approval is granted by the governing body, in Manheim Township this would be the Board of Commissioners. Action by the Board of Commissioners comes after a recommendation by the Planning Commission. The use, although permissible within a particular zoning district, requires a closer examination by the Board of Commissioners. These types of uses typically have a greater impact on the community and therefore necessitate the need for additional safeguards. Conditional uses are close kin of the special exception with the difference being the approving body. View more information regarding submitting a request for Conditional Use (PDF).

Designated Growth Area

The Designated Growth Area is a physically defined area on a land use policy map that is established around existing development patterns and infrastructure investment. The concept of designated growth areas as a county land management concept that was first introduced to the area by the Lancaster County Planning Commission and has the following characteristics:

1. It is an area appropriate for future development and includes Lancaster City, a Borough, or Village as the core area.

2. Residential, mixed-use, commercial, industrial, and institutional development are permitted or planned for this area.

3. Public infrastructure services are provided or planned for in this area with sufficient capacity to support the intended density and intensity of development.

The Lancaster County Comprehensive Plan defines two types of Designated Growth Areas, which are the Urban Growth Area and the Village Growth Area. Specific policies for these areas are described in the Lancaster County Comprehensive Plan. With the exception of the agriculturally zoned land in the northeast corner of Manheim Township, the entire Township is considered a Designated Growth Area. The area surrounded the Village of Oregon is considered a Village Growth Area while the remainder of the Township is considered an Urban Growth Area.T


An easement is a right-of-way granted for limited use on private land for a public, quasi-public or private purpose (such as drainage, utility, access, clear sight triangle, etc), and within which the owner of the property shall not have the right to make use of the land in a manner that violates the right of the grantee. Nothing shall be placed, planted, set or put within the area of an easement. Prior to making improvements, it is recommended that you research your property to ensure easements do not affect your property.


A man-made barrier placed or arranged as a line of demarcation, an enclosure, or visual barrier that is constructed of wood, chain-link metal, vinyl or aluminum and/or plastic inserts. This definition does not include man-made barriers or walls constructed principally of masonry, concrete, cinder block or similar materials. A zoning permit is required for installing a fence. View fence regulations (PDF) and for submitting a zoning permit (PDF).


An area of land adjacent to the channel of a watercourse which has been or is likely to be flooded, or any area subject to the unusual and rapid accumulation of runoff of surface waters from any source by designation in accordance with the most current Manheim Township Floodplain Ordinance.

Growing Together

Growing Together is a regional comprehensive plan for central Lancaster County. The Lancaster Inter-Municipal Committee(LIMC) coordinated its preparation, through a steering committee including representatives from all the municipalities involved, and with extensive community input. Eleven municipalities then adopted Growing Together as their comprehensive plan, or as part of their comprehensive plan, in April 2007.

Historic Resource

The Lancaster County Comprehensive Historic Sites Survey for Manheim Township, prepared in 1991, depicts the historic resources in Manheim Township. This inventory identifies historic resources based on levels of significance. A level of significance 1 represents historic resources of the highest quality or historic importance while a level of significance 4 represents historic resources that have been altered or compromised. 

Home Occupation

A home occupation is a business, profession, occupation or trade conducted for financial gain or profit and located entirely within a residential dwelling or within a detached private garage located on a residential lot. A home occupation is accessory, incidental, and secondary to the use of the dwelling for residential purposes and does not change the residential character or appearance of the dwelling or detached garage. There are two classifications of home occupations:

There are two classifications of home occupations: Minor Home Occupations and Major Home Occupations. Minor Home Occupations require submission and approval of a Minor Home Occupation permit while a Major Home Occupation first requires approval from the Zoning Hearing Board before a Major Home Occupation permit can be approved.

Permitted Minor Home Occupations are:

  • Artists, craftsmen and sculptors;
  • Authors and composers;
  • Office facilities, excluding medical and dental offices;
  • Individual tutoring;
  • Preparation of food or food products to be sold or served off-site;
  • Individual instrument instruction, provided that no instrument may be amplified;
  • Telephone solicitation work;
  • Minor Family Child Day Care center not involving more than three children unrelated to the operator (See additional requirements for “In-Home Child Day Care Facilities”).

Permitted Major Home Occupations:

  • Any uses permitted as a minor home occupation;
  • Medical and dental offices;
  • Single chair hair stylists;
  • Organized classes with up to six (6) students at a time;
  • Television, computer and other electrical repairs excluding major appliances such as refrigerators or stoves;
  • Upholstering;
  • Major Family Child Day Care Center in which child day care is provided at any one time to no more than six (6) children unrelated to the operator (See additional requirements for “In-Home Child Day Care Facilities”); and
  • Uses not listed that, in the opinion of the Zoning Officer and upon review and approval of the Zoning Hearing Board, are considered to be of the same general character as the major home occupations permitted.

View Home Occupation regulations (PDF), for submitting a Home Occupation Permit and for submitting a Zoning Hearing Board (PDF) request.

Impervious Surfaces

Impervious surfaces are defined in watershed management as surfaces that prohibit the movement of water from the land surface into the underlying soil or dirt causing stormwater run-off. Buildings and paved surfaces (e.g., asphalt, concrete) are considered impervious covers, as are roofs, decks, pool decks, patios, gravel areas, etc.

Lancaster Inter-Municipal Committee

The Lancaster Inter-Municipal Committee (LIMC) is a council of governments established to address inter-municipal challenges and concerns in central Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It encourages and facilitates inter-municipal cooperation, undertakes projects that will benefit its member municipalities, and provides a forum for municipal officials to discuss issues of mutual interest.

Land Development

Land development includes improvements of one lot or two or more contiguous lots, tracts or parcels of land for any purpose involving a group of two or more residential or nonresidential buildings or a single nonresidential building on a lot or lots (regardless of the number of occupants or tenure); the division or allocation of land or space between or among two or more existing or prospective occupants by means of, or for the purpose of streets, common areas, leaseholds, condominiums, building groups or other features; or a subdivision of land. Any of these measures would require formal submission of a land development plan.

Land Use Advisory Board

The Land Use Advisory Board, commonly referred to as LUAB, was created through an intergovernmental cooperation agreement through the Lancaster Inter-municipal Committee (LIMC) to assist with implementing, Growing Together, A Comprehensive Plan for Central Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Growing Together). One of LUAB's functions is to review and comment upon proposed actions that participating municipalities may undertake to implement Growing Together.

Municipal Planning Code (MPC)

The Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Act 247, known as the "PMPC" or "MPC" provides the statutory framework for all municipalities in Pennsylvania to adopt comprehensive plans, adopt and enforce subdivision and land development ordinances, to adopt and enforce zoning and other similar land use management tools and technics in their respective communities. The MPC was adopted in 1968.

Official Map

The Official Map is a planning tool used to identify and reserve future public lands and facilities. Creating an official map does not obligate the Township to acquire reserved property at the time the map is adopted or in the future. It is simply a way of identifying for public record, the location and dimension of a potential public need on a map so that development, when it occurs, will not encroach on the land needed for any such public facility.

Permitted Use

Permitted use is a land use permitted by right in a given zoning district as specified in the zoning ordinance provided specific standards in the ordinance are met. A permit use is a use not requiring a special exception or conditional use approval.

Planned Residential Development (PRD)

Planned Residential Development, commonly referred to as a PRD, is a land use control method that includes both zoning and subdivision regulations. A PRD includes the development of an area of land under a single entity for a variety of residential dwelling types and typically includes a non-residential component. The development plan for which does not correspond in lot size, bulk, type of dwelling, or use, density or intensity, lot coverage and required open space to regulations established in any one district created from time to time under the provisions of the zoning ordinance. Examples of Planned Residential Developments in Manheim Township include Brighton, Kissel Hill Commons, Worthington and Wetherburn Commons.

Planning Commission

The Manheim Township Planning Commission consists of seven (7) planning members who are appointed by the Board of Commissioners and each member serves a four (4) year term. The duties of the Planning Commission include such things as preparing the comprehensive plan, keeping records of all actions, preparing and making recommendations to the Board of Commissioners (BOC) regarding land use ordinances, subdivision and land development applications, text amendments and zoning map amendments.

Prime Agricultural Soils

Land used for agricultural purposes that contain soils of the first, second, or third class as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture natural resources and conservation services county soil survey.

Riparian Buffer

A riparian buffer is undisturbed land adjacent to a natural watercourse or other body of water for the purposes of stabilizing banks, filtering pollutants from runoff and for providing habitat for a variety of wildlife. 


The term setback means the required distance separating a building or structure from a property line or right-of-way. Setback regulations for buildings and structures are included in the Zoning Ordinance. For more information, please contact the Township Planning and Zoning Department. 

Site (Plot) Plan

A drawing which shows the boundaries of a parcel of land, the topography, important landscape elements that impact design, and the placement of all existing and proposed improvements, including buildings, road and driveways, storm and sanitary sewer lines, and utility connections. View a sample Site Plan (PDF).

The Township may have a copy of an existing site plan of your property on file and you may request a copy by contacting the “Planning and Zoning Department”. Be sure to include your address in your request. The Township cannot attest to the accuracy of any site plan and it is your responsibility to verify and provide an adequate and accurate site plan. In some cases, the Township may not have a site plan on file for your property.

Special Exception

A special exception, although permissible within certain zoning districts provided certain standards are met, requires a closer examination by the Zoning Hearing Board. These types of uses typically have a greater impact on the community and therefore necessitate the need for additional safeguards. Special exception uses are close kin of the conditional use with the difference being the approving body.


Subdivision is the division or re-division of a lot, tract, or parcel of land by any means into two or more lots, tracts, parcels or other division of land including changes to existing lot lines. Any of these measures would require formal submission of a subdivision plan.

Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance

The subdivision and land development ordinance establishes rules, regulations and standards for the development and subdivision of land development and subdivision of land. Refer to the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance for more detailed information or contact the Planning and Zoning Department.

Transferable Development Right (TDR)

There are approximately 2000 agriculturally zoned acres in Manheim Township and Transferable Development Rights (TDRs) were assigned to each agriculturally zoned property consisting of at least ten (10) acres. Approximately 1300 TDRs were assigned to agriculturally zoned property. Of those TDRs, Manheim Township has purchased 377 TDRs. In addition to the TDRs purchased by the Township, 392 TDRs have been purchased by developers or other property owners. Manheim Township does not anticipate purchasing additional TDRs in the future but does anticipate that developers will purchase additional TDRs.

Urban Growth Area

The Urban Growth Area is defined as an area that is appropriate for future development and includes Lancaster City or a Borough at its center, developed portions of the Townships, and additional lands suitable to accommodate new development. In combination, these lands should have sufficient development capacity to meet future land use needs over a 25-year period without constraining the development market. In order to allow the market to act freely, Lancaster County Planning Commission advises municipalities to provide double the projected development acreage for the next ten years when designing Urban Growth Area Boundaries.

Development in Urban Growth Areas should be provided with a full range of public infrastructure services, including both public sewer and public water service with sufficient capacity to support the intended density and intensity of development. Residential development in Urban Growth Areas should occur at an average net density of 7.5 dwellings per residential acre and non-residential development should occur at intensities which maximize the use of land and infrastructure. Urban Growth Areas are given official standing by their incorporation on Future Land Use Maps and through adoption in County and local comprehensive plans.


A variance is relief from a particular regulation contained in the Zoning Ordinance. Specifically, a variance allows a property owner to seek relief from a standard of the zoning ordinance to enable the property owner to use his or her land that would otherwise not be possible because of location, topography, size or shape under the strict standards of the ordinance. The need for a variance is determined by the Township Zoning Officer and is granted or denied by the Zoning Hearing Board.

Village Growth Area

The Village Growth Area is an area that is designated as appropriate for future development and includes a traditional village core, adjacent developed portions of a township, and additional land to absorb a portion of a township’s future land use needs over a 25-year period while maintaining village scale, character, and a defined edge. Development in Village Growth Areas should be provided with public sewer and/or public water service where appropriate and feasible. The target net density for residential development in Village Growth Areas is 2.5 units/ acre, on average. Nonresidential development should occur at intensities which are compatible with the character of the Village. Both residential and non-residential development should be designed to be compatible with and complement the traditional, pedestrian friendly character of the village through features such as grid street patterns, sidewalks, buildings pulled to the street with parking behind, and compatible architectural scale and mass.

Zoning Hearing Board

The Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) is a local court that deals with zoning matters. The ZHB is enabled to hear and act on challenges, appeals, variances, and special exceptions. The ZHB must follow current procedures and is not empowered to make or modify policy. In Manheim Township the ZHB consists of five (5) members with one (1) alternate member who are appointed by the Board of Commissioners. The term of a ZHB member is five (5) years.

Zoning Ordinance

A zoning ordinance is the document that regulates land use, area and bulk regulations in the Township. The ordinance is composed of two components, text and a zoning map. The text of the zoning ordinance provides development standards such as bulk, building height and length, lot area, open space and setback provisions to regulate the use of land and structures. The zoning map delineates boundaries of specific zoning districts. A zoning ordinance allows for certain uses in certain zoning districts. Of those uses some are permitted by right while other uses are permitted by conditional use or by special exception.

Zoning Permit

Zoning Permit Application Packet (PDF) are required for all new construction not requiring a building permit; accessory structures such as sheds and outbuildings; decks; patios and paved terraces; pools; sidewalks or walkways, fences and gazebos. For more information, please contact the Planning and Zoning Department.

Additionally, a number of projects will also require compliance with the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code. The “Code Compliance Department” enforces the PA UCC. In such cases, an Application for Zoning Review, Building Plan Examination and Building Permit is required. See the “Code Compliance Department” page for further information regarding building permits, etc.

For changes, additions or modifications to a property which only require zoning review and approval, a Zoning Permit is the only permit required. This includes:

Not sure if your property is considered residential or non-residential? Still confused about what type of permit may be required? Contact us, we are here to help you through this process.

It is our goal to review and approve all permit applications within ten business days from the date of submittal. During the spring and summer months, the time required will increase due to the number of plans requiring review. Each permit is reviewed in order of submittal and no work may commence until approved. Please plan accordingly!

You will be contacted when your Zoning Permit is approved. There are no inspections required for Zoning Permits. However, if your project includes the installation of electrical, mechanical or plumbing, a separate permit may be required by the “Code Compliance Department” and inspections of those installations would be required.