Building Permits

Permits and Special Approvals

This page is intended to provide an overview of basic commercial permits in the City of Frederick. All projects are different - to discuss the specifics of a project, please contact DED or the City's Building Department for more detailed information on required permits and approvals.

The scope and complexity of a commercial project determines the regulatory process and permitting required – from new construction, fit out of an existing building, or occupying a “move-in ready” space. Anytime a business occupies a building (or part of a building) a Certificate of Occupancy or zoning certificate is required.

Zoning Certificate
All businesses must submit a zoning certificate to the City’s Building Department, and obtain a Certificate of Occupancy, when occupying a new location. The zoning certificate application is available online.

Electric or Plumbing Permit
If the only work needed is plumbing or electrical, the corresponding permits are required. A zoning certificate still is necessary in order to obtain the Certificate of Occupancy for the building.

Building Permit
Required for tenant fit-out an existing space, which requires construction such as removal / addition of walls, plumbing, electrical, fire protection, or structural work. Completion of work and inspections results in a Certificate of Occupancy.

Sign Permit

The city regulates commercial signage, including the size of signs and the number permitted per lot. These regulations are in the city’s Land Management Code, Section 864. A sign permit must be submitted for review and approval based on these regulations. Sign contractors will often handle permitting.

Note: Within the Frederick Town Historic District, the Historic District Guidelines have additional signage regulations. Historic Preservation Commission approval is a separate process from the sign permit, and is required before submitting the sign permit application. Once Historic Preservation Committee approval is given, sign permits are eligible for the one stop shop.

Sandwich Boards

Businesses are allowed one sandwich board sign, placed in front of their place of business. These signs must be removed at the end of each day. There are other regulations regarding size and placement, but no permits are required. In Downtown Frederick, Historic Preservation Committee approval is not required for sandwich boards. Call the City Planning Department for details at (301) 600-1499.

Restaurant with Entertainment
Restaurants that plan to have live music and other entertainment must first obtain approval for entertainment from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). A zoning certificate is also required from the Building Department.

Sidewalk Cafes
Sidewalk cafes are allowed in city commercial districts, including Downtown Frederick. There are regulations for both enclosed and open outdoor seating areas (City Code Sec 22-7 [c]). An enclosed seating area requires a permit.

Note: Outdoor service of alcohol also requires Frederick County Liquor Board approval – contact them at (301) 600-2984 or online.

Frederick Town Historic District
For businesses located in the Frederick Town Historic District, approval through the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is required for most exterior work, including signage. Many rehabilitation projects and signs can be approved administratively by a historic preservation planner. Call the Historic Preservation Commission at (301) 600-1499 for more information or visit their website.

Application fees for each permit, as well as costs such as impact fees (on new plumbing fixtures) must be carefully considered. Take the time to research these costs and build them into your business plan upfront. Also, allow yourself enough time for the permit review – depending on the complexity of the permit, reviews can take one week or several weeks, so plan accordingly.