Zoning Certificates

A Zoning Certificate verifies that a property may be used for a proposed business and that it complies with applicable zoning (and other department) regulations. The City requires that a Zoning Certificate be obtained before a business/trader's license is obtained from the Washington County Circuit Courthouse and before a business opens within the City limits.

A Zoning Certificate, by itself, is NOT: 1) approval to open a business; 2) approval to use or occupy a structure; 3) a permit to do any construction; or 4) approval from any agency outside City government (i.e. Health Department, Liquor Board, State Board of Cosmetology, Motor Vehicles Administration, etc.)   

When do I need to apply for a Zoning Certificate?


  • When any business that wants to occupy an existing vacant or previously occupied commercial space within the City limits, but is not doing any construction (i.e.: building, electric or plumbing).
  • When there is any change of use (i.e. office to retail, retail to restaurant, etc.). NOTE: On occasion, the fire and building codes may require modifications to the building, depending on the nature of the change in use. Under such circumstances, a Building Permit application will need to be submitted.
  • Change in occupancy may also require a zoning certificate (i.e. retail book to retail flowers; financial office to professional office, etc.) NOTE: If any construction is to be done, a Building Permit Application will need to be submitted in addition to the Zoning Certificate.
  • If you are opening a home-based business (see below)

What about Home-Based Businesses?


The City's Zoning Ordinance (Article 4 of the Land Management Code) does allow for a home-based business (also known as a home workstation) in residences, provided that certain conditions are met. There conditions include, but are not limited to:
  • The residence must be occupied by the operator(s) or employee(s) of the business.
  • There are no customers, clients, or non-resident employees coming to the property.
  • There is no outdoor storage of any kind.
  • There is no signage.
  • Deliveries are limited to those made by the U.S. Postal Service and similar carriers in vehicles of a size that routinely serve residential areas and in a volume and frequency consistent with those deliveries made to a dwelling
For more information, please see our brochure on home workstations.

How do I obtain a zoning certificate?


A zoning certificate can be applied for in person at the Planning Office in City Hall, One East Franklin Street, Suite 300. There is a $125 fee for a regular zoning certificate and a $50 fee for a home workstation certificate. If you any questions please contact the Planning Office at 301-739-8577, extension 138 or email at planning@hagerstownmd.org