Which zoning district to place university, commercial /residential /etc?

which none school zoning district do you place university building?
is there any resource to understand the general logic other than the literal meaning of the name?

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Hi @xurubi ,

If you’re forced to pick which district a university or college would be best placed in I would go with commercial. However, each zoning code is unique. There might be some instances where residentially zoned districts allow for certain other uses.

See below for Cincinnati’s zoning code for an example. Under the heading of “commercial” it shows different individual uses. Within the ‘commercial’ header, colleges fall under “public use”


As you can see, this chart breaks down commercially zoned districts further. Not all of them allow colleges, but CC-M, CC-A, & CG-A do.

I think Cincinnati’s zoning code is pretty typical of the type you might come across on the exam. Residential zoning districts tend to focus on housing and may allow other more incidental building types, but perhaps require review or limit the number of them.

Going back to Cincinnati as an example, we can see that this city has “Multifamily” as a zoning district. We see a chart similar to the commercial chart above, but the values are slightly different. You can see the “colleges” is not listed as an acceptable use at all on this table, but “schools” are. This makes sense because you likely want your residents to live close to their school. However, a big university might not be an appropriate addition to this residential area.

Hope this helps!

thanks, should that be in institutional zoning instead?
also, I looked up Columbia university, all their campuses are in the residential districts, not sure that is just odd or common?
if few requirements were given, zoning related along with none zoning related , say close to some landscape, which dominate the selection?
say zoning a is typical of where building should be in , zoning b is acceptable for building to be in but meet other none zoning req.
should we place the building in zone A or B?

Yeah, institutional would be a great fit too!

Check out how the Cincinnati Code allows colleges in institutional zones as well for example:

Every zoning code is different. You’d have to read the individual zoning codes to understand what use is permissible in which. In general, I think new colleges typically are more likely to be placed in commercial or institutionally zoned areas, but there are always exceptions. Columbia was established in 1754, so I wouldn’t use that as benchmark. It’s likely zoning code has evolved since then.

If the context (zoning and non-zoning related) is leading you to believe that option A is the where the building would typically be cited definitely go with it!

When you’re answering these types of questions it can be helpful to do a process of elimination. You know that colleges aren’t typically placed in residential districts, so you can cross that one out. So, you might be left with commercial and institutional. The context leads you to believe institutional is more typical for this scenario. So even though you know commercial might also be acceptable, you go with institutional as its the best fit, or most correct.

This is a really good question. Zoning can be super tricky, especially since a lot of candidates who are testing likely aren’t the ones choosing the sites for the buildings!

Hope this helps,