In discussing building, a number of terms are bandied about which are often interchanged and mixed up. These include “master plan,” “statutory scheme plan” and “urban building scheme.”

Master plan – This is a policy statement that has no legal status and needs to be presented to legal bodies for approval. The master plan is prepared by the municipality. No resident input is required by law. But the Jerusalem Municipality is currently encouraging resident input as it prepares new master plans for Baka, Ginot Ha’ir, Gonenim, Kiryat Menahem and other neighborhoods.

Statutory scheme plan – The legally approved master plan is known as the statutory scheme plan. This plan has force of law and generally deals with an entire neighborhood or area.

Urban building scheme – This is a local or zoning plan for a specific area. More limited than the scheme plan, it may deal with specific areas.

A statutory plan for an area is important. It is not just the municipality trying to make life difficult for residents. According to a Jerusalem planner who is working on the master plan for one of the city’s neighborhoods and who asked not to have his name used, a statutory plan “preserves historic buildings and neighborhoods.

It provides for open and green areas, public areas, parking, etc. It regulates the percentage of building on plots and the maximum height of buildings in the area, thereby helping to preserve the character of a neighborhood and allow for light and air. It also regulates whether one can have commercial, residential, institutional or industrial property or a mixture on a specific of street or area.

And a statutory plan provides peace of mind to residents. It enables them to know what is allowed and what is not, while still providing a framework in which they can change specific points if needed.”
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