Property and zoning research and small business start-up guides
There are several ways to get help navigating the permit process. Please select one of the DSC's self-help resources or contact staff to request further guidance related to one of our information products or applications.
The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) allows for additional dwelling units in exchange for providing affordable housing dwelling units as defined in the UDO. The requirements for this bonus are found within Section 6.6, Affordable Housing Bonus. Once a Site Plan or Plat is approved under this program, monitoring and compliance is then performed by the City’s Community Development Department (CDD) through the adopted compliance rules and procedures. For more information about the administration of UDO Section 6.6, please contact the DSC. For more information regarding compliance rules and procedures, please contact Community Development.
Business Startup Roadmaps
Developed in partnership with Durham’s Office and Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), state agencies, and professional associations, this collection of nine small business guides provides a comprehensive overview of the regulatory process, from registering a business name to grand opening. Additional background is here.
Outdoor Sales Information
Outdoor sales is a broad category of commercial activities that include garage or yard sales, food trucks, pushcarts, and stands with tables and/or tents. Some outdoor sales are allowed in the public right-of-way, and others on private property. Each of these types of outdoor sales has its own set of rules.
Outdoor Sales Information
Información de Ventas al Aire Libre
Healthy Homes and Lead Abatement
Land Disturbance on Residential Property
Are you moving dirt? Any land disturbing activity of more than 12,000 square feet requires a Land Disturbance Permit, even for residential Building Permit projects. This is handled separately through Durham County's Stormwater and Erosion Control office.
Plot Plan Generator
A plot plan - also referred to as a plot map - is required with all residential building permits. A plot plan can be produced by a licensed surveyor, or, applicants can choose generate one on their own. Unfortunately City and County staff are not able to assist in the preparations of plot plans on behalf of customers.
Generate a Plot Plan using Durham Maps
City-County Inspections requirements for plot plans
Visit this page if you know which permit or approval you need. You can also request formal verification letters and schedule pre-application meetings with staff (see Early Assistance tab group).
Applications, forms, online submittal, fee payment, and inspections
A complete application form is one step of a six-step application submittal process. The application process is all digital and paper-free. Please do not deliver materials via mail as these items will not be processed or returned. Use the blue button immediately below to launch the application guide after completing an application form and reviewing the submittal checklist. For Building Permits and Inspections application submittal, payment, and questions visit the Inspections site.
Review building, zoning, infrastructure, or other regulations that may apply to a property, activity, or construction type.
Review list of recent development application submttals; browse development activity by map; research area-wide or site-specific property, zoning, and environmental data using GIS.
Browse development activity by map, access data sets, or request land development records.
Customer service staff are available to answer general property, zoning, and application inquiries and provide pre-application guidance.
Please review customer service pre-application guidelines below before contacting DSC by phone, email, or in person.
Customer Service Expectations
- We aim to acknowledge customer inquiries within 24 hours and resolve inquiries within 48 hours. Please know that in some cases it may take up to five business days to respond to inquiries due to the research effort needed to investigate most property and zoning questions.
- Staff need the following four pieces of information to respond to a property or zoning question:
- Customer name;
- Property address;
- Email address or telephone number (email is faster); and
- A clear description of the question. If emailing, please pose the question within the body of email.
- Out of fairness to other customers inquiries need to be processed in the order received.
- Team members will treat all customers with courtesy and respect and asks that customers do the same.
- The role of customer service staff in responding to an inquiry is to identify applicable development regulations; explain the development process; and provide referrals.
- Responses to property questions are informational and non-binding.
- Customer service staff are not able to assist with project design; provide comments on preliminary drawings or sketches; or speculate as to the likelihood of a future development application or permit being approved.
- For early assistance please request a Concept Meeting or Multi-departmental Pre-submittal Meeting.
- Out of fairness to industry staff cannot provide contractor recommendations.
- Staff are not able to perform business intelligence services such as the preparation of custom maps or data analysis. To browse current and past development activity visit the monthly development reporting and development tracking maps page or submit a records request. In addition, the City-County Open Data platform provides a wide variety of data available for download, and can be viewed, filtered, and analyzed in both spatial and tabular form.
- In terms of paid customer information products, we are able to provide Zoning Verification Letters (ZVL) and several types of Business Verification Letters (BVL), however we are not able to provide Zoning Compliance Letters.
- A ZVL confirms the current zoning designation of a property.
- A BVL confirms that the current zoning of a property supports a proposed land use (i.e. the land use type is allowed within the current zoning district).
- A Zoning Compliance Letter confirms that the buildings, business(es), and site amenities currently existing at a property comply with zoning regulations.
We do not offer #3 above because the only way to validate such statements is through a physical inspection of the property, and unfortunately the Planning department is not staffed to provide site inspections as a feasibility or due diligence service.
In order to fulfill the desired verification, what we can do is provide a copy of any previous Site Plans and Certificates of Occupancy, which would confirm that the property was in compliance with building/zoning at the time it was developed.
State law requires us to retain records for six years, we often are able to find records as far back as 20 years.