Zoning Administration

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Zoning Permitting


Zoning Permitting


Charlotte, the most populous municipality in North Carolina, is a vibrant, growing city consisting of 297 square miles divided into various zoned districts. Our zoning districts are made with due consideration of future growth and development as well as current and future uses of land. Charlotte's zoning districts promote orderly development while also separating incompatible land uses, thereby promoting dynamic growth and sustainability within our community.

Zoning Functions​

Charlotte's zoning functions are administered by three City departments:  Planning, Design & Development, CLT Development Center, and Housing & Neighborhood  Services.  Their functions include:

Planning, Design & Development

  • Provides administrative support to the Zoning Board of Adjustment
  • Creates subdivisions
  • Processes zoning appeals, variances, and rezoning applications
  • Provides final interpretation of City's zoning ordinance
  • Receives residential permit applications
  • Permitting accessory structures (12' H x 12' W x 12' D or smaller)
  • Receives change of use permit, zoning and sign permits
  • Zoning verification letters
  • ABC permits

CLT Development Center

  • Review site plans and inspects new commercial construction
  • Checks for compliance with zoning ordinance regulations on new commercial construction until a Certificate of Occupancy is issued

Housing & Neighborhood Services

  • City zoning ordinance enforcement

For inspections contact CLT Development Center or Housing & Neighborhood Services. For a service request contact 311.

 Frequently Asked Questions

​No permits are needed for a fence.


Section 12.406.  Fences and walls in residential districts.  
The following restrictions shall apply to all fences and walls located in any residential district, except for fences and walls surrounding public utility structures or radio, television, or microwave transmission or relay towers:  

(1) No fence or wall located in the required setback shall be built to a height greater than 5 feet above grade, unless it is a part of a zero-lot line subdivision, then it may be 6 feet.

(2) No fence or wall located in the required side yard between the required setback and established rear yard shall be built to a height greater than 6 feet above grade. 

(3) No fence or wall located in the established rear yard shall be greater in height than 8 feet above grade height in the rear yard.  

(4) Any fence or wall serving as a retaining wall shall be solid cement, masonry or wood and constructed to the standards of the State Building Code.  

(5) The capital of a fence post or column may extend up to 2 feet above the maximum height limit.  

(6) No fence or wall shall be constructed within a storm drainage easement which will block or materially impede the flow of storm water runoff.  

[Editor’s Note:  Any fence or wall constructed within the sight distance triangle at an intersection must conform to the cross visibility requirement regulated in City Code, Section 14-16 and Section 12.109 of these regulations.  A fence or wall constructed along the border or bounding on any streets or sidewalks of the City, shall require certification by the Charlotte Department of Transportation (City Code, Section 19-4.]

​Section 12.406.  Fences and walls in residential districts. 

The following restrictions shall apply to all fences and walls located in any residential district, except for fences and walls surrounding public utility structures or radio, television, or microwave transmission or relay towers:  

(1) No fence or wall located in the required setback shall be built to a height greater than 5 feet above grade, unless it is a part of a zero-lot line subdivision, then it may be 6 feet.

(2) No fence or wall located in the required side yard between the required setback and established rear yard shall be built to a height greater than 6 feet above grade. 

(3) No fence or wall located in the established rear yard shall be greater in height than 8 feet above grade height in the rear yard.  

(4) Any fence or wall serving as a retaining wall shall be solid cement, masonry or wood and constructed to the standards of the State Building Code.  

(5) The capital of a fence post or column may extend up to 2 feet above the maximum height limit.  

(6) No fence or wall shall be constructed within a storm drainage easement which will block or materially impede the flow of storm water runoff.  

[Editor’s Note:  Any fence or wall constructed within the sight distance triangle at an intersection must conform to the cross visibility requirement regulated in City Code, Section 14-16 and Section 12.109 of these regulations.  A fence or wall constructed along the border or bounding on any streets or sidewalks of the City, shall require certification by the Charlotte Department of Transportation (City Code, Section 19-4.]


A Customary Home Occupation Permit is needed for an office in the home provided adherence to Section 12.408.


Section 12.408.  Customary home occupations.
Applicability and Exceptions:  The following uses are not considered to be customary home occupations, and are exempt from this section:

(i) Home offices with incidental storage (example is telecommuting from home).  Incidental storage shall not exceed 50 square feet in area.
(ii) Residents whose job location is elsewhere, can bring work-related vehicles home, however, the commercial vehicles regulations of Section 12.218 shall apply.

A customary home occupation shall be permitted as an accessory to any dwelling unit in accordance with the following requirements:  

(1) The home occupation must be clearly incidental to the residential use of the dwelling and must not change the essential residential character of the dwelling. 

(2) Use of the dwelling for all customary home occupations must be limited to 25 percent of the total floor area of the principal building, or 500 square feet, whichever is less. Areas used for storage of materials shall be included in determining the percentage of the structure devoted to the customary home occupation.  Incidental storage of 50 square feet, or less, shall not count toward determining the percentage devoted to the customary home occupation.  If a portion of a room is being used, the entire room will be measured, not just the portion.  

Home occupation permits issued prior to the effective date of this section shall be grandfathered.  However, any subsequent home occupation permit issued at the same address must be in conformance with these standards.

(3) No accessory building or outside storage may be used in connection with the home occupation.  

(4) No chemical, mechanical, electrical, construction, paint, landscaping equipment and materials/supplies that are not normally a part of domestic or household equipment may be used or stored, with two exceptions:

(a) Medical, dental, and office equipment used for professional purposes may be used.

(b) A single trailer with a cargo area/work platform shall not exceed a length of 14’ (not including step bumpers less than 18” in length or the moving hitch or tongue), attached to a vehicle at all time used in the customary home occupation may be stored on the premise overnight, but no construction or industrial equipment can be stored on the trailer. 

(5) Machinery that causes noises, vibration, glare, fumes, odors, dust, detectable at the property line is prohibited. Machinery that causes electrical interference with radio or television reception is also prohibited.  

(6) No internal or external alterations inconsistent with the residential use of the building will be permitted.  There shall be no evidence on the exterior of the premises or visible from the exterior of the premises that the property is used in any way other than for a dwelling.

(7) Only residents of the dwelling may be engaged in work activities at the residence. If the customary home occupation has other employees, those employees may not come to the residence for work purposes, including pick-up of materials, vehicles, assignments, or similar purposes.

(8) No display of products shall be visible from the street 

(9) The number of vehicles used by clients or business related visitors to any home occupation shall be limited to two at any given time.  

(10) Vehicles used in connection with the conduct of the customary home occupation shall comply with the requirements of Section 12.218, “Commercial vehicle parking in residential areas”.  

(11) Signs are permitted in accordance with Section 13.7.B. (Petition No. 2019-103, 10-21-19) 
(12) Clients or business related visitors shall be by appointment only.

(13) Hours of operation for deliveries, clients, and operation of mechanical or electrical equipment shall be limited to 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. 

Permitted customary home occupations include, but are not limited to:  home based businesses such as offices for professionals such as architects, brokers, counselors, clergy, dentists, doctors, cartographers, engineers, insurance agents, lawyers, real estate agents, accountants, editors, publishers, journalists, psychologists, contract management, graphic design, landscape and or building contractors, landscape design, surveyors, cleaning services, alterations, certified massage therapists, retail sales of goods by appointment only, manufacturer’s representatives, travel agents, telecommuting, gift baskets, instructional services (such as teaching music, dance, art, tutoring), home craft businesses (such as artists, quilters, sculptors, musicians, dressmakers, milliners, weavers, lapidary, jewelry making, photographers, and furniture making), and other similar uses.  

Home baked goods with no products sold directly from the house, and subject other applicable regulations including Building Code and Mecklenburg County Health Department regulations.

Prohibited customary home occupations include, but are not limited to:  caterers, food vendors, equipment and vehicle repair shops, appliance repair shops, small mechanical repair shops, barber shops, beauty shops, kennels, commercial bakeries, veterinarian clinics, funeral homes, commercial cabinetry shop, welding, trucking, adult oriented businesses, warehousing, on-site vehicular sales, and other similar uses.

​Yes


For accessory structures 12’ H x 12’ W x 12’ D and smaller, a Zoning Use Permit is needed.

For accessory structures larger than 12’ H x 12’ W x 12’ D, a Building Permit is needed.

​OpenCounter is a web-based tool that helps customers in Charlotte with building a new business or expanding or relocating an existing one. By answering a series of questions about the business and the location the owner is considering, the tool guides business owners in estimating City and County permit requirements and associated fees surrounding construction, renovation and zoning.