Local planning and zoning regulations play a key role in community development, determining what structures and uses are permitted on private property. Most cities and counties require certain building projects, property changes, or business activities to first obtain a planning and zoning permit. Understanding common scenarios requiring this approval helps homeowners and entrepreneurs remain compliant.
When Approval Is Needed?
Generally, planning and zoning permits apply to projects meeting certain thresholds for size, height, use changes, traffic impacts, and more. Common examples include:
Building A New Structure
Constructing any new building on a property from homes to garages to commercial facilities requires a planning permit to verify zoning compliance and safety. Even small backyard sheds often need permits. New structures must meet setback, height, and use allowances for that zone.
Additions And Modifications
Expanding the footprint or height of an existing structure necessitates zoning approval to ensure requirements are still met. This includes adding wings, additional stories, balconies, chimneys, and more. Even just demolishing major portions of a building requires permitting. Interior renovations generally don’t, unless changing occupancy type.
Accessory Dwelling Units
Converting garages or building new detached structures for secondary dwellings, mother-in-law suites, or rental units is only permitted in certain residential zones. A planning permit confirms that ADUs adhere to codes for size, entrances, setbacks, and utilities. Restrictions often apply to short-term rentals.
Using a residence for business purposes can conflict with zoning allowances for noise, traffic, health safety, signage, etc. Opening even a small home office or salon requires approval to mitigate neighborhood impact. Permits may limit clients, employees, commercial vehicle parking, and more.
More intensive landscape alterations like new retaining walls over certain heights, permanent structures like gazebos, swimming pools/hot tubs, and significant regrading or tree removal need permits to avoid safety issues or disrupting drainage. Even driveways may require planning approval.
Property Line Adjustments
Adjusting boundaries between adjacent lots necessitates permitting to track changes in established property dimensions, prevent violations of zoning requirements, and update records. This includes any transactions altering lot sizes, easements, or rights of way.
Most permanent signage requires some level of zoning review to meet specifications for sign districts, size, placement, lighting, and more. Approval helps prevent visual clutter and hazards. Changing existing signs also needs permitting in many cases.
Switching a property’s function such as from residential to commercial or converting a garage into a beauty salon requires planning approval. Zoning aims to prevent incompatible uses adjoining one another. Permitted uses vary by zone.
Opening a new business even in an existing approved space necessitates getting a certificate of occupancy. This ensures current building systems, safety, design, and capacity meet codes for the intended use. Restrictions related to hours, operations, or services may apply.
Extensive interior renovations especially those modifying walls, electrical systems, plumbing, occupancy load, or accessibility require permits to avoid safety risks. Commercial kitchens, storage tank installations, elevator modifications, and more need oversight.
Streamlining Reviews With Software
Planning and zoning departments face daunting permit application volumes. Customized software like Citygov expedites zoning reviews, fee processing, inspection scheduling, record storage, and more. Automation speeds up applications while improving transparency for citizens. Solutions like cloud-based Citygov planning and zoning software allow attaching site plans, tracking status, and integrating GIS systems for efficient analysis of code compliance.
To Wrap Up
Adhering to local planning and zoning requirements ensures community development aligns with long-term vision while protecting health and quality of life. Homeowners and business owners must educate themselves on when permits are mandatory for property changes and new ventures through transparent communication with local officials. Permitting may seem tedious but ultimately allows neighborhoods to thrive.