A Zoning Permit is issued by the Zoning Administrator and authorizes a lot and/or structure to be used, whether temporary, seasonal, or permanent, in a manner permitted by the Zoning Ordinance, as detailed in Section 15-1 of the Zoning Ordinance. Zoning Permits are reviewed through an administrative process for any establishment of a use or change in use for a building, structure, or parcel as well as construction of new buildings or alterations of existing buildings. For some uses, establishment may also require approval from the Board of Supervisors (BOS) through a Rezoning or Conditional Use Permit (CUP) or Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) through a Special Exception (SE). Zoning Permits for uses or structures proposing at least 2,500 square feet may require a Land Disturbance Permit through the Environmental Programs Division or a Site Plan through the Community Development Office.
In the County’s agricultural districts (RC-1 and RC-2 districts), buildings or structures associated with agriculture or forestry uses are exempt from obtaining a Zoning Permit. Certain uses and structures, such as fences and flag poles are not regulated by the Zoning Ordinance and, therefore, do not require a Zoning Permit. However, agricultural and forestry uses as well as uses and structures not regulated by the Zoning Ordinance still must observe any applicable local, state, or federal requirements.
Where legally established uses or structures do not conform to the Zoning Ordinance regulations at the time of adoption of or subsequent amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, these are recognized as legal, nonconforming uses or structures. Although subsequent modification to these uses or structures may require a Zoning Permit, legal, nonconforming uses or structures may be allowed to do so with modifications to the Zoning Ordinance’s requirements, as detailed in Article 10 of the Zoning Ordinance.
Administrative Review Process
A Zoning Permit application can be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning for review by the Zoning Division staff. Zoning Permit applications should include, at a minimum, the application form, a scaled plot plan, and the $35 review fee. Sign Permit applications undergo the same administrative review process and require the same application materials (including a $50 review fee) along with any other information necessary to determine conformance with the Sign Ordinance (Article 12 of the Zoning Ordinance).
Within 30 days of receipt of an application, Zoning Division staff will review the contents of the application and either approve or deny the Zoning Permit application. If an application is determined to be incomplete or insufficient information is provided to perform a full review, staff will notify the applicant of the necessary steps required to enable staff to perform a full review. If the applicant resolves all inadequacies in the application within the 30-day review period, staff will perform the review and either approve or deny the application. If any inadequacies are not resolved within this time frame, staff will deny the Zoning Permit application. If a Zoning Permit application is denied and the applicant wishes to submit another application, the applicant shall provide a separate application with all appropriate materials (including the review fee) and staff will review the materials as if it is a new application. Similarly, applications to enlarge or modify a use and/or structure previously permitted shall submit a new application with all appropriate materials (including the review fee).
Establishment of or construction for uses and/or structures permitted by the Department of Planning and Zoning shall begin within 1 year of the issuance of a Zoning Permit and must be substantially completed within 2.5 years of the issuance of a Zoning Permit. If work is not begun within 1 year of issuance or completed within 2.5 years of issuance, the Zoning Permit shall expire and be revoked. Unless an extension is granted by the Zoning Administrator, work cannot resume for uses and/or structures with expired Zoning Permits until a new application (with all relevant materials) is submitted and a Zoning Permit is approved by the Zoning Division staff.
In certain cases, staff may need to inspect a site to confirm that any conditions of the Zoning Permit (or rezoning, Conditional Use Permit, or Special Exception) are installed appropriately prior to issuance of a Final Certificate of Occupancy (CO) by the Building Official. When this is necessary, Zoning Division staff will note on the approved Zoning Permit any applicable conditions and the applicant should be aware of all required improvements shown on an approved Zoning Permit. To schedule an inspection, the applicant, developer, or contractor should contact the Department of Planning and Zoning to set an inspection date prior to request for a Final CO. Due to limited inspectors, staff may not be able to perform an inspection immediately.
Forms for the Zoning Permit application and Sign Permit application can be found on the department’s Forms and Policies page.