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Frequently Asked Questions....About Zoning
 

 

General

Can I conduct a certain activity at a given location?

Can the zoning of a certain parcel of property be changed?

Can you tell me what is going on the property near where I live? 

Can I operate a business out of my home?

Did a property owner get the required permits for construction which is already underway? 

 

Applications (How to File)

How do I file for a variance or an appeal from decision?

How do I rezone my property?

 

Commercial/Business

Does the zoning classification at a particular address allow my type of business?

How do I find out the zoning of my property?

What type of zoning will I need to establish a (named) business activity?

 

 

Development Standards

Where can I locate an accessory structure/shed/pool/garage on my property?

What is a buffer?

Who maintains a buffer?

What are my building setbacks and yard requirements?

Do dumpsters require screening?

Where can I purchase a zoning ordinance?

Can I subdivide my property?

 

Environmental

What is watershed/impervious area?

 

Enforcement

What happens when a violation continues after the specified time to correct the violation?

What can the Zoning Department do about illegal uses such as crack houses?

 

Permits

When is a permit required?

Do I need a permit for a fence?

Do I need a permit for a shed or "temporary" structure?

 

Residential

Can I operate a business from my residence?

How do I find out the zoning of my property?

How many people may live in a house?

Who enforces my Restrictive Covenants or Private Deed Restrictions?

What is an "as-built" survey and how do I get one?

 

Violations/Complaints

How do I report a zoning violation?

Where do I report a junk car/trash on a property?

What is the difference between an "unlicensed" vehicle vs. a "Junked" Vehicle?

How is zoning enforced?

What constitutes a sign violation?

 

 

 

 

 

  

General

Can I conduct a certain activity at a given location?
The zoning classification of a parcel of land will dictate what use can be made of that property. To ascertain the zoning classification for a particular parcel of property, contact Zoning at 704-336-3569. The zoning classification for a parcel of property is set by the governing body for the jurisdiction in which the property lies.  That same governing body has the authority to re-zone property.  There is a formal process which must be followed in doing so.  A property owner can initiate the re-zoning process by contacting the agency designated by the governing body for processing such a request.  The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission is the designated agency for the City of Charlotte and (unincorporated) Mecklenburg County. (back)

 

Can the zoning of a certain parcel of property be changed?
The zoning classification for a parcel of property is set by the governing body for the jurisdiction in which the property lies.  That same governing body has the authority to re-zone property.  There is a formal process which must be followed in doing so.  A property owner can initiate the re-zoning process by contacting the agency designated by the governing body for processing such a request.  The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission is the designated agency for the City of Charlotte and (unincorporated) Mecklenburg County. (back)

  

Can you tell me what is going on the property near where I live?  
If given the street address or tax parcel number for a particular parcel of property, Zoning can access information to determine if any construction permits have been obtained. (back)

  

Can I operate a business out of my home?  
Yes, but you must comply with the requirements as set forth in the zoning Ordinance as adopted by the respective jurisdiction in which you reside. (back)

 

Did a property owner get the required permits for construction which is already underway?  
Departmental records can easily be accessed by Zoning officials to determine if a required permit for an activity underway has been obtained. (back)

 

 

 

Applications (How to File)

How do I file for a variance or an appeal from decision?
The Zoning Board of Adjustment hears variance requests to waive part or all of a zoning ordinance requirement. The Application for a Variance form may be obtained from this web site by clicking the "FORMS" button located on the left side of this page or by visiting the public zoning counter at 700 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC. All applications must be returned to the zoning counter in person. The application  must be completed and include the required fee before application will be accepted. (back)

 

How do I rezone my property?
Every zoning classification requires a minimum lot size. Each piece of property has a zoning classification with minimum development requirements listed in the City/County zoning ordinances. Subdivision regulations govern how a property can be subdivided. Therefore, you would need to contact the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission at 704-336-2205. (back)

 

Commercial/Business

Does the zoning classification at a particular address allow my type of business?
Consult Mecklenburg County's GIS Real Estate System. Click on "Tax Parcel and Map Sheet Search" and search by owner's name or address.  The search results will include zoning classification, parcel ID #, and municipality. Once the zoning classification is determined, view the Zoning Districts Table to see if the use is permitted in your zoning district. (back)

 

How do I find out the zoning of my property?
Consult Mecklenburg County's GIS Real Estate System. Click on "Tax Parcel and Map Sheet Search" and search by owner's name, address, or tax parcel number.  The search results will include zoning classification, parcel ID #, and municipality. (back)

 

What type of zoning will I need to establish a (named) business activity?
If you are uncertain about what zoning classification is needed for a particular activity (automotive service station, professional office, restaurant, etc.), contact Zoning at 704-336-3569. In most cases a use can be established in different zoning classifications. (back)

 

 

Development Standards

Where can I locate an accessory structure/shed/pool/garage on my property?
These structures may generally be placed in the side and rear yard, provided they are far enough from the property lines. These structures are not allowed in the established setback (front yard). (back)

 

What is a buffer?
A buffer is a strip of land with existing or planted vegetation used to protect a less intense land use. Example: trees and shrubs planted in a buffer on an industrial property to protect a residential property. (back)

  

Who maintains a buffer?
Maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner. The zoning inspector can require the property owner to replace any dead plant material and repair any damaged fence or wall. (back)

  

What are my building setbacks and yard requirements?
A building setback is the required distance that a building (structure) must be located from the property lines adjacent property. Typically, setbacks and yard requirements are determined by your zoning classification; therefore you would need to verify the zoning of your property. (back)

Do dumpsters require screening?
Yes. Both the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County Zoning Ordinances require certain uses to be screened from abutting property and from public view from a public street. The six towns in  Mecklenburg County have similar provisions in their ordinances as well. (back)

 

 

Where can I purchase a zoning ordinance?
Zoning Ordinances (City and County) are available from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission.  Contact the Planning Commission at (704) 336-2205 or visit their office at 600 East 4th Street, Charlotte. Ordinances for other jurisdictions (towns, etc.) are available at the respective Town Halls for Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville. (back)

  

Can I subdivide my property?
Yes. Most properties can be subdivided provided the minimal requirements of the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance and any other restrictions are met. (back)

  

Environmental

What is watershed/impervious area?
Impervious areas or impervious ground cover is any structure or ground cover consisting of asphalt, concrete, gravel, brick, terrazzo, roofing, ceramic tile or any other natural or man made material that prevents the absorption of surface water into the soil. Watershed is only a certain percentage of land that can be covered with impervious area. This affects building permitted on a lot. To determine if a lot is in the watershed area, consult the Water Quality Program at 704-336-5500. (back)

 

  

Enforcement

What happens when a violation continues after the specified time to correct the violation?
The zoning inspector can issue civil citations ($50.00 up to $500.00) or issue a criminal summons to take someone to Environmental Court where a judge can sentence jail time or penalties if they are found guilty. The zoning office can also use civil remedies such as an order of Abatement or Injunction. (back)

 

  

What can the Zoning Department do about illegal uses such as crack houses?
Drug houses usually have multiple violations within the City codes. We would form a code team to investigate the violations and include departments such as the Police, Community Improvement, Housing, Environmental Health, and Land Use & Environmental Services. (back)

 

 

Permits

When is a permit required?
A permit is required for all construction activity (building, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing).  Also, a change in use of an existing building (office to restaurant, retail to beauty salon, etc.) will require a Change of Use Permit.  Operating a business from your home will also require a Change of Use Permit.  Consult with Zoning at 704-336-3569 regarding your plans and obtain confirmation of any necessary permit requirements prior to engaging in an activity that you are uncertain about. (back)

   

Do I need a permit for a fence?
No, a fence is not a structure and does not require a building permit. However, there are height restrictions. Generally these restrict the height of the fence to 5 feet in the front yard, 6 feet on the sides and 8 feet in the rear. If the fence will be in the front yard (near the street), you will need to contact the Department of Transportation (704-336-2261) for review. Call the Zoning Counter at (704-336-3569) for details. (back)

 

  

Do I need a permit for a shed or "temporary" structure?
Yes, a Zoning Use Permit is required for structures 12 feet or less in any dimension. This permit assures that the structure is located far enough from property lines. A Building Permit is required for anything measuring over 12 feet in any dimension. (The forms mentioned here are in PDF format requiring Adobe Reader.) (back)

 

 

Residential

Can I operate a business from my residence?
To operate a home-based business, you must obtain a Zoning Customary Home Occupation Permit and a Business License. Apply in person for the permit at the Hal Marshall Service Center, 700 N. Tryon Street. The Zoning Counter is located on the main floor.
There is a one-time flat fee of $125.00 for this permit. The permit is valid as long as you live at the location which is being permitted. Complete the Zoning Use Application and the Customary Home Occupation Compliance Form. These forms are available in the lobby. The zoning staff member will need these two forms as well as the Business License Application (heavy paper card) to process your permit request.
After obtaining zoning approval and a local business license, the home business proprietor should also contact the following offices:

  • Engineering & Property Management Permit Writing Division to apply for a permit if modifications to the structure are required. Phone 704-336-3803.
  • Register of Deeds, 720 E. Fourth Street, to register the business name. Phone 704-336-6095.
  • Business Listing Department, 720 E. Fourth Street, to list business property. Phone 704-336-6382.
  • N.C. Department of Revenue, 500 W. Trade St., to obtain a state sales tax number if goods are to be sold. Phone 704-342-6121.
  • Internal Revenue Services to obtain information for a Federal Tax ID number. Phone 1-800-829-1040. (back)

 

  

How do I find out the zoning of my property?
By phone: A tax parcel number is required. This is an eight-digit number found on your tax bill or receipt that assists the zoning staff in locating your property on any of the County's 189 zoning maps.  Contact the zoning office at 704-336-3569.  By computer: Visit the GIS Real Estate System and use your tax parcel number, an address, or the property owner's name. (back)

 

How many people may live in a house?
In a residential district, up to 6 unrelated individuals may live in a house as a family. There is no zoning restriction for the number of family members living in a home as long as blood, marriage, or adoption relates them. (back)

 

Who enforces my Restrictive Covenants or Private Deed Restrictions?
Either the Homeowner's Association, Management Company or individual homeowner(s) may enforce these restrictions. (back)

 


What is an "as-built" survey and how do I get one?
A survey by a registered surveyor showing all structures, driveways, basements, walkways, gravel coverage, etc., showing the impervious area of a site as it has been built. Obtain a survey from a registered surveyor. (back)

 

   

Violations/Complaints

How do I report a zoning violation?
Call Zoning at 704-336-3569 and give them the address and a detailed description of the nature of the violation. Include details such as names, dates, times, license plates and any information that can be given as evidence of the violation. (back)

 

 

Where do I report a junk car/trash on a property?
If the property in question is inside the City limits of Charlotte, call the City of Charlotte Community Improvement Department at 704-336-2573 .  If outside the City limits, call the Mecklenburg County Land Use & Environmental Services Agency at 704-336-3835 or e-mail Tim Taylor to report the location. (back)

   

 

What is the difference between an "unlicensed" vehicle vs. a "Junked" Vehicle?
The City of Charlotte Zoning Ordinance allows for no more than two (2) unlicensed vehicles that are not fully enclosed in a permanent structure to be on any premises. Unlicensed vehicles are not permitted to be located within any required setback or yards in street right-of-way. One junked motor vehicle can be located in the rear yard if it is covered with an acceptable canvas covering.
The City Code defines a Junked Motor Vehicle as an unlicensed vehicle that:

  • Is partially dismantled or wrecked; or
  • Cannot be self-propelled; or
  • Is more than five (5) years old and appears to be worth less than one hundred dollars ($100.00). (back)

 

  

How is zoning enforced?
Once the zoning office receives a complaint, the zoning inspector will investigate the alleged violation with 1-3 days. If a violation is detected, a Notice of Violation is sent certified mail to the property owner and/or occupant. The violation letter gives a specified time to correct the violation. (City/County is currently 30 days.)
The City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services Department enforces the Junked Motor Vehicle Ordinance. Please contact Customer Service at (704) 336-2673. (back)

  

 

What constitutes a sign violation?
A detached sign may be in violation if the sign is too tall, exceeds the amount of sign face area, there are too many signs on one property or is too close to the road. A wall sign may be in violation if it exceeds the amount of signage allowed on a wall, projects too far from a wall or is on the roof. Each sign must have a sign permit.  
Additional prohibited signs include:

  • Signs extending into the public right-of-way other than those approved by the Charlotte Department of Transportation,
  • roof signs,
  • portable signs,
  • Except in the Uptown Mixed Use District, flashing, fluttering, swinging, or rotating signs other than time and/or temperature signs,
  • Signs that are similar in color, design, and appearance to traffic control signs,
  • Vehicular signs as defined in Section 13.102,
  • Off-premise signs other than those permitted in Section 13.111,
  • Nonconforming signs, except as permitted in Section 13.112,
  • Other signs not expressly allowed by regulations. (back)

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

For more information regarding the Zoning Administrators Office
Please contact:
Barry Mosley
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department
600 East Fourth Street (8th Floor)
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
(704)-336-8314