Planning & Zoning

Urban Design, Annexation, and Historic Preservation

Who We Are

The Department of Planning and Zoning was established in 2021 by Council Action. Ordinance No.06/2021 was adopted by which the Director of Planning was moved from the Mayor's Office to a newly created Department of Planning and Zoning; furthermore, the positions of Planning Administrator and Neighborhood Planner were created and the position of Zoning Inspector was reassigned from the Building and Code Enforcement Department to the newly created department.


City Planning provides leadership — shapes the future of Canton and the region through the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan and by formulating an extraordinary focused vision that is:

Smart ... oversees the preparation/administration of planning initiatives, zoning, and land use policies intended to generate economic development, as well as encourage a varied and stable real-estate market;
Fair ... promotes impartial growth, while preserving the city's unique heritage and by improving its contextual surroundings through environmental controls; and,
Balanced ... advocates for the sustainment and establishment of prosperous  neighborhoods and districts that are authentic, healthy, and equitable.


City Planning envisions a thriving Canton, resilient in the face of adversity ... Competitive, Right-sized, and Diverse - embracing the posture as the Hall of Fame City; one that is vibrant, safe, and sustainable for current and future generations to come.

Core Values

  • Education
    We consistently promote City Planning's message; informing our community and region objectively about our work, precedent principles, and industry best practices.
  • Collaboration
    We establish a network of strategic partnerships/alliances; along with working internally and externally, incorporating key stakeholders, such as: public agencies, private institutions, and non-profit, philanthropic organizations to advance the comprehensive plan.
  • Engagement
    We provide transparent communication and facilitate an ongoing dialogue that is clear, responsive, and inclusive in all stages of the planning processes.
  • Assurance (Trust)
    We are passionate and uniform in our applications of policy while ensuring that planning services are provided promptly, accurately, and professionally.
  • Visionary
    We are progressive in our plans and practical in their implementation while striving to secure essential financial resources through grants, the alignment of capital expenditures, and strategic coalitions with potential funders.
  • Innovation
    We embrace 'out-of-the-box' solutions in setting new standards, guiding change that embraces our distinct heritage, exceptional assets, and aspirations of our community.

What We Do


The role of City Planning is to proactively guide the orderly advancement/maturation of Canton through consensus. To address issues of community, economic vitality, and environmental integrity; with a particular emphasis placed on the 'Live, Work, and Play' premise to enrich and enhance Canton's reputation as an All American City.


We embrace the guiding supposition that the city's form and civic capacity must be appropriate to market and demographic constraints. Interventions aimed at stabilizing and revitalizing Canton require City Planning to employ a proposition that advances a Competitive, Right-sized, and Diverse city approach; through a structured framework, one that is:

  • Authentic
    Proactively identify and protect the historical character of Canton Landmarks, Districts, and architecturally significant structures;
  • Healthy
    Maximize the function of public open space and ensure that neighborhood investment utilizes a public health-centered approach through the utilization Health Impact Assessment to regulate design and development;
  • Equitable
    Ensure that all planning efforts address the needs of all residents - taking into account disparities as it relates to things such as age, income, and mobility;
  • Vibrant
    Promote and humanize the city to support active living and dynamic nodes; complementing the city's context with an appropriate scale, massing, and character of the built form; foster opportunities for the organized integration of public art within the public realm, while enhancing the sense of arrival with iconic gateways and through the development of intuitive way finding;
  • Safe
    Employ a multi-modal transportation policy, and utilize Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) standards to improve overall public safety; and,
  • Sustainable
    Incorporate environmentally conscious 'Green' design principles and ensure that vacant Land Bank resources are utilized in an overall geographically targeted reuse strategy.


To enhance the city brand. To link local assets and community planning initiatives to city and regional development efforts; through the strategy of : 1) Targeted Core Investment areas, 2) Repurpose (land assembly) areas, such as dormant, fallow, vacant/delinquent land, and floodplain zones, and 3) Stabilization of residential Neighborhood areas.

Planning Objective
To provide vision, unify, and deliver ongoing planning services necessary to facilitate appropriate growth and revitalization of the city through the preparation of the highest quality master plans, technical reports, and studies for its neighborhoods, districts, and nodes - as well as the region.

Zoning Objective
To indicate the land use requirements for all the real property within the City of Canton, and to promote the overall health, safety and general welfare through orderly development by eliminating potential conflicts between incompatible land uses and to establish an efficient basis of investment in public infrastructure and facilities.

Urban Design Objective
To provide design expertise and to prepare reference guidelines, typology plans, and ordinances necessary to facilitate appropriate growth and revitalization of the city. Furthermore, urban design and Infrastructure are pivotal to both planning and development; its input and initiatives inform master plans, technical reports, and studies by contributing key design principles, research, and analysis.

To proactively incorporate adjacent real property in to the city corporate boundaries; thereby providing the ownership with enhanced civil services and access to an abundant, safe and readily available water supply that will allow virtually unlimited growth for economic development to flourish.

Historic Preservation
To preserve the historically significant architectural resources of the City of Canton.