Instead of waiting in line, residents and businesses can now see interactive zoning maps and get permitting details 24 hours a day/7 days a week


SYRACUSE, N.Y.  Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced the new Zoning and Permitting Discovery Center, a powerful online tool that lets businesses and residents help themselves to the zoning and permitting information they need. With the new technology, instead of coming to City Hall Commons during business hours, users can go to to get interactive zoning maps and permitting details 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The first tool, a Zoning Portal, delivers an interactive mapping system to learn where a new business or residence is permitted throughout the City. The second, a Business Permitting Portal, helps business owners discover the specific permits, licenses, and other requirements for starting their business in Syracuse. The third, a Residential Permitting Portal, helps homeowners and developers learn where their residential project is allowed, and what permits they’ll need before starting the project.

“Small businesses and homeowners are the engines of our local economy,” said Mayor Walsh.  “They create jobs, generate tax revenues and help build vibrant, engaged neighborhoods. Until now, there have been very few tools intentionally designed to give entrepreneurs and small business owners looking to invest in a community a clear breakdown of the processes and complications that they might face.“

The Zoning and Permitting Discovery Center will help guide users through the City’s permitting requirements as they begin complex projects, such as starting a new business or a home renovation project. Founded on the City’s planning and building regulations, the portals ask simple questions that help applicants achieve their project goals while guiding them through the permits, fees, and licenses their project will need.

This project has been spearheaded by the City of Syracuse Central Permit Office, in a continued effort to improve the citizen permitting experience. By moving the permit discovery process online, the Central Permit Office will be able to provide reliable, project-specific information to business and residents around the clock. These new tools also give the City a new level of insight into economic trends in the community. The system is built on a model created by development company, OpenCounter, which specializes in online workflows for municipalities.

“We’re aiming to increase communication and eliminate confusion on both sides of the counter,” said Stephanie Pasquale, Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development.  “City staff will have access a powerful suite of administrative tools to analyze proposed projects while citizens are given a remarkably high level of service that reduces their discovery process from weeks down to a few minutes.


About OpenCounter

Designed for the citizen experience, OpenCounter asks the right questions, in the right order, so citizens can see the requirements, fees, and processing times that apply to their projects. By making information available across departments, OpenCounter also helps municipalities coordinate internal workflows, and build better relationships with the citizens that they serve. OpenCounter was piloted through a Code for America fellowship in the City of Santa Cruz, CA and has been supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


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