Zoning Permits & Review
After you have completed a pre-application conference and are ready to submit an application for your project's permits, your project will be subject to zoning review.
The Site Plan division of the Development Services Department reviews many different types of projects for zoning compliance including Level I, II, and III projects, Conditional Use Permits and Conditional Zoning, Rezoning, Sign Permits, Flexible Development requests, Major and Minor Subdivisions, Home Occupation Permits, Outdoor Merchandise and Pushcarts and Zoning Variance applications. The application review process depends on the size and type of project, as listed below.
Level I: Projects less than 35,000 square feet or less than 20 residential units
For Level I projects, the Development Services Center will assist you with submitting your project for zoning review. The Level I application for project permits covers zoning requirements.
Level II, III, Conditional Zoning, Conditional Use Permits & Major Subdivisions: Projects more than 35,000 square feet or 20 or more residential units
The Planning & Development Department coordinates zoning review for all projects larger than Level I through the Office of the Technical Review Manager.
Application packets for specific types of projects are available through the Technical Review Committee web page.
Flexible Development Application
Approval of a flexible development request allows for deviations from the development standards for setbacks, lot area and dimension, number of parking spaces, signage, open space, landscaping, height, and building floor area set forth in the UDO, provided that certain conditions exist. There is an application fee of $50 for each request.
Download the Flexible Development Standards
Flexible Development Application
Home Occupation Permit Application
Home Occupations are permitted in all residential districts provided that certain standards are met. Applications are accepted in the Development Services Center and are reviewed by Planning Department staff. A permit fee of $52 is required when the application is submitted.
Home Occupation Application
Rezoning requests are heard by the Planning & Zoning Commission and the City Council. It is strongly recommended that applicants meet with a planner before submitting their application. Please call the Planning Department at (828) 259-5831 and ask to speak to a planner who handles rezoning requests to schedule a pre-application conference.
Rezoning Application Packet
Signs are regulated by the City of Asheville to stabilize and protect property values, to maintain the visual attractiveness of the city and its environment, and to ensure public safety. Regulations govern the location, size, and type of signs and require that most signs have Zoning and/or Building permits. No sign – temporary, permanent, permitted, or unpermitted, with the exception of governmental signs – may be displayed in a public right-of way, on a utility pole, or roadside structure (e.g. trash can, bus stop, tree, bench). Such signs are subject to immediate removal by the City of Asheville and may be reclaimed within 7 days of removal for a $50/sign reclamation fee.
About Sign Permits
Nearly all outdoor signs in Asheville require a sign permit. Some temporary signs do not require a permit, such as an on-site yard sale sign or real estate sign (see the section below about temporary signs for more information). City staff can assist you in determining whether a sign permit is needed by calling (828) 259-5846. It is highly recommended that citizens consult with staff before placing any outdoor signs.
Permanent sign fees vary depending on size and type of sign. Please call the Development Services Center at (828) 259-5846 for permit fee questions. Temporary and A-Frame sign permits are $25. Permit applications may be downloaded below and should be submitted in person to the Development Services Center at 161 S. Charlotte Street, Room A101. The Development Services Center accepts cash, checks, and major credit cards.
Application forms must be complete and include site location, applicant name, business name, privilege license information, name of the sign contractor, type of illumination, sign dimensions, and linear measure of store frontage (for multi-tenant businesses). Applications must also include a drawing, to scale, of the sign with all dimensions and text displayed. For attached signs, the sign drawing should also show where the sign is located on the building and the means of attachment to the wall or mounting surface. Photos of the building, lot, and/or proposed sign are very helpful.
If a sign is projecting or freestanding and exceeds a height of 6 feet, sealed engineered drawings must accompany the application, in addition to the sign drawing. A site plan is also required and must show property boundary line, building locations, right-of-way and driveway locations and the proposed location of the sign.
Once your application is complete and if your sign meets the requirements of the City Sign Ordinance, typical turn-around time for a permit is 7-14 business days.
Once you have a sign permit, you may install your sign; however, do not forget to call for the required inspection/s. Footings inspections are required prior to the pouring of any concrete. Electrical inspections are required for any electrified signs. Remember, only a licensed electrician may wire an electrified sign.
The final sign inspection is made once your sign is erected. To request these inspections, call the inspector listed on the permit by 4 p.m. of the day prior to the desired inspection. When you call for the inspection, make sure you give the correct address of where the sign is located, the sign contractor’s name, the permit number and the type of inspection desired. If these procedures are followed, the permit process will flow smoothly and you should not experience any unnecessary delays.
Temporary signage mounted inside a window and not exceeding 16 square feet does not require a permit. Exterior temporary signage or temporary signage exceeding 16 square feet (with a maximum of 32 square feet)requires a temporary sign permit. The display of a temporary sign shall not exceed 30 days. No more than two (2) temporary sign permits, per business, can be issued in any one (1) calendar year. Temporary signs include banners for special temporary events and uses, such as grand openings and special events.
A temporary sign permit is not required in these cases:
YARD SALE SIGNS
- Four (4) allowed where sale is located, placed on private property.
- Limited to four (4) square feet per face in area.
- No permit is required.
- Generally limited to eight (8) square feet in area per display face.
- Must be removed within 5 days after the election.
- No permit is required.
- Must have an approved site plan and building permit to install a construction sign.
- Generally limited to one sign, four (4) square feet for residential and thirty-two (32) square feet for multifamily residential and nonresidential construction, with a 10 foot height maximum.
- No permit is required.
REAL ESTATE SIGNS “FOR SALE/FOR RENT/FOR LEASE"
- For properties located in a Residential Zoning District, limited to two (2) signs per lot, four (4) feet in height and four (4) square feet per face.
- For properties located in all other Zoning Districts, generally limited to two (2) signs per lot, eight (8) feet in height and thirty-two (32) square feet per face.
- No permit is required.
A-Frame (Sandwich Board) Signs
A-Frame signs are allowed in the Central Business District, Neighborhood Corridor, Urban Village, and Urban Residential zoning districts only. A-Frame signs require a separate sign permit renewable yearly (download form below) and are regulated in sized, placement, and hours of display. The business placing an A-Frame sign shall provide verification of an insurance rider with the City of Asheville in the amount of $1,000,000 (one million dollars).
The following signs are prohibited in all zoning districts within the City limits:
- Animated or flashing
- Flags used in combination with a commercial activity
- Optical Illusion
- Portable or Moveable
- Sandwich Board (with exceptions)
- Traffic Look-alike
- Vehicle (with exceptions)
- Wind (with exceptions)
To report a sign permit violation, call the Development Services Department at (828) 259-5846. After receiving a notice of violation, remedies for failure to comply may include a citation in the amount of $100 per day for each day the violation continues. Signs erected prior to obtaining a sign permit are also subject to a doubling of the sign permit fees. Temporary and portable signs on City property or in the public right-of-way may be removed and disposed of by a Zoning Code Enforcement Officer.
Download an A-Frame Sign Checklist and Application
The City of Asheville requires review of all divisions of a parcel of land into two or more lots, building sites, or other divisions for the purpose of sale or building. These types of review include Minor Subdivision Review and Major Subdivision Review.
The minor subdivision review process is required for those divisions of land into two or more lots that do not require the extension of public utilities (water and/or sewer) and/or public streets. Minor subdivisions are reviewed and approved at the city staff level. Plats for minor subdivisions must be prepared by a professional land surveyor.
Minor Subdivision checklist
Minor Subdivision application
The major subdivision review process is required for those divisions of land which require the extension of public utilities (water and/or sewer) and/or public streets. Review and approval of the preliminary plat by the Technical Review Committee is required under the major subdivision review process, with review and approval of the final plat by the staff. The city requires every applicant to participate in a pre-submittal conference prior to the submittal of a subdivision plat. The purpose of this conference is to provide clarification and assistance in the preparation and submission of plats for approval. Applicants may schedule a conference by contacting the appropriate staff member below.
To schedule a pre-application conference for Major Subdivisions:
Contact: Chris Collins, Process Manager
Phone: (828) 259-5657
Outdoor Merchandise & Pushcarts
The City of Asheville administers a sidewalk encroachment permit program for outdoor dining, outdoor merchandise and pushcarts. If you choose to encroach in the city's sidewalk in any of the following ways, you will be required to obtain a permit.
As defined by City Ordinance #3024:
- Outdoor Dining Area means an area in front of or adjacent to a restaurant and located on a public sidewalk or square whereon tables, chairs or benches are placed for dining purposes.
- Outdoor Merchandise Area means an area in front of or adjacent to a retail business where merchandise is located on a public sidewalk for the purpose of displaying, exhibiting, selling or offering for sale merchandise.
- Pushcart means a wheeled cart which may be moved by one person without the assistance of a motor and which is designed and used for displaying, keeping or storing any food, beverages or other articles for sale by a vendor. Pushcarts are only allowed in the Central Business District and in Biltmore Village.
Approved pushcart locations (updated 3/2016)
A Permit is required for dining or merchandise areas which use 30 sq. ft. or less of sidewalk space and do not have anything attached to the sidewalk. If this is the case, only the application and attachments are required.
A Permit and an Encroachment Agreement are required for pushcarts and dining or merchandise areas which use over 30 sq. ft. of sidewalk space and/or which have something attached to the sidewalk. If this is the case, the application, attachments, and Encroachment Agreement Application are required.
You will be required to obtain a Certificate of Insurance for $1,000,000. You need to include the City of Asheville as "Additional Insured." Permits will not be issued without the “Additional Insured” verbiage.
The City of Asheville’s permit year runs from July 1 until June 30th of the following year.
Additional Items to Consider
If you want to add any type of signage, including an A-frame sign or temporary signage, contact the Sign Administrator at (828) 259-5822 for information and additional permit requirements.
If applicable (food sales only), contact the Health Department, located at 35 Woodfin Street (828) 250-5016, to make sure that all Health Department rules are being followed. Obtain Health Department Certificate or letter of non-requirement.
If applicable, to serve alcoholic beverages, contact Alcoholic Beverage Control located at Ridgefield Business Center (828) 670-5055, for their requirements on serving alcoholic beverages. Obtain an ABC permit. (For Outdoor Dining permits ONLY)
Download the Application Packet (PDF) - updated 07/09/13