The Town of Carolina Beach Welcomes New Business
An entrepreneurial spirit has always existed in Carolina Beach and has helped to foster a vibrant economy.
Sometimes new businesses want to locate in buildings that were previously occupied by others. While sometimes the new use of the building will match the old use and little is needed to make the change effective, sometimes the use is different or the building is not in compliance with current safety requirements.
This guide is intended to provide an overview of the permitting process for the Town of Carolina Beach for businesses that want to locate in an existing building. It is not exhaustive and is not intended to substitute for the various ordinances, codes and regulations that may be in place.
Much of what the Town is required to enforce is developed by the NC State Building Code.
This guide came about as a desire to provide additional information about business operations and a desire by the Town of Carolina Beach to provide information to businesses within the area and those who might want to open a business in the Town of Carolina Beach.
The Town reacted to some frustration experienced by some entrepreneurs trying to open a new business in an existing building. Much of the issue was traced to a lack of information about the process by the business owner. Many times the Town is enforcing State adopted rules and in each case, the effort has been made to be fair and consistent. The Town has encouraged this guide to help give entrepreneurs who might be unfamiliar with the process some information about what needs to be done.
Much of the guidance provided will be true for New Hanover County and many other jurisdictions in the State, but the main credo of this publication is: Check First.
Town staff are ready to talk with entrepreneurs about their plans and to give them advice about regulations and such. Please consider using this service before you purchase or lease a space for a business in Carolina Beach.
The Town of Carolina Beach welcomes new businesses to the
Town & stands ready to provide consultation and guidance.
1. FREE Consultation
Call Development Services for information about your project.Schedule a time to talk with staff for help. Development Services Main Line: 910-458-8218
Planning or Zoning approvals may be needed.
Town Planning: 910-458-2978
3. Building Inspections
Submit plans to Building Inspections.
Town Building Inspections: (910) 458-8238
Public Utilities Water and Sewer Taps.
Town Utilities Division: (910) 458-8291
Soil Erosion Review or Drainage Plan.
Mark Dudenhaver at (910) 707-7013
Fire Department Review
Buddy Thompson at (910) 458-2985
Business (Privilege) Registration
A business operation may require a business license to operate.
Business Registration: (910) 458-8218
After Permits are Issued...
5. Fire Department
Fire Protection Permits.
Contact Fire Marshal: 910-458-2985
If Needed: Police Community Services Unit
Community Services Unit: 910-458-7061
Consultation about Sanitation and Recycling services.
Contact Waste Industries: 910-762-7563
The Most Typical Stumbling Blocks for New Businesses:
- Purchasing or leasing property without checking to see if it can be used for the intended use.
- Failure to check on building codes. Assumptions are made that renovations will not have to meet current codes. The Building Codes are adopted by the State, not the Town of Carolina Beach.
How to Prevent these problems:
- Talk with the Town BEFORE you Purchase or Lease property for a business use.
Jurisdiction of the Town of Carolina Beach
The Town obviously has jurisdiction inside the Town limits, but also exercises certain jurisdiction outside of the Town limits in the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). Signs are located in many areas of the ETJ, but a complete map is available online and at Town Hall.
Location, Location, Location
The location may be great, the building may be golden in your eyes and the rent or price may be fantastic, but renovations and upgrades, building and fire codes and other improvements could prove to be more costly than you budgeted for. Before a building is purchased, or a lease signed for a new business, get all the facts. This includes whether you can even operate a business there.
The Town has two methods of providing advice about specific locations. Both offer an opinion about a location and a proposed business to be located there.
Free: A Consultation
Some might call this a "windshield" review. It's a consultation that occurs when you have a specific location in mind for a specific type of business. It covers two main areas of regulation within the Town: Building Inspections and Zoning. You identify a location and the Town’s Planning Division will tell you whether the specific type of business you propose is permitted in that zone. If it is not, you can get guidance on the steps that would be needed to rezone the site. But before you do that, go to Building Inspections to learn about the specific building you are interested in. Many times the Building Inspection Division will be familiar with the building from its former occupant. They can give you an idea of what you might be facing to ensure that your targeted building meets the codes. A scaled building plan is needed for this review. You might also be encouraged to meet with Public Works/Public Utilities for sanitation issues.
For the Free Consultation
Call 910-458-8238 for Building Inspections
Call 910-458-2978 for Zoning
Never trust zoning information from anyone other than the Town Planning Division.
More Formal: A Written Consultation
The Town of Carolina Beach offers a "Special Request Inspection." This is a preliminary review for significant changes that might be caused by an occupancy change, alterations, renovations or additions. Information received from this inspection is not all inclusive of zoning, building and fire code requirements, but it is a valuable planning tool for you to use to estimate the potential costs of upgrades. There is a fee for this on-site inspection.
Before a written report is generated, a review by the Town Fire Marshal, Zoning Officer and the Building Division is made. Sanitation issues are also reviewed.
A scaled building plan is needed for this review. Normally a design professional can provide this, and a drawing stamped by an engineer or architect is usually not required. Sometimes the Town may have a drawing on file from the previous occupant of a building that can be used to get the process started. Check with Building Inspections.
If you do need modifications and a building permit is required, then a more formal drawing may be required based on the size and value of the building.
There are special conditions and requirements for a "Special Request Inspection".
Contact Building Inspections for more details.
The Town of Carolina Beach Zoning Ordinance establishes specific regulations for the use of land or occupancy of a building. It states in part: "No land shall be used or occupied and no building structurally altered or erected shall be used or changed in use until a certificate of occupancy shall have been issued by the Zoning Administrator stating that the building or the proposed use thereof complies with the provisions of this ordinance."
An application for a Certificate of Occupancy can be obtained from the Building Inspections Division. No Certificate of Occupancy can be issued without complete zoning compliance.
Every use, location, structure and condition is unique and will be reviewed on its own merits. In many instances, there will be a requirement for upgrades to the site in order to achieve zoning compliance. Below is a list of some of the zoning compliance upgrades which may be required. This list does not include all instances.
- Resurfacing or striping of vehicle accommodation areas (parking lot)
- Upgrading handicapped accessibility and parking requirements
- Establishing or upgrading a refuse collection (dumpster) site
- Removal, relocation and or adjustments to signage.
Building and zoning codes are established to protect the health, safety and welfare of you and all citizens of Carolina Beach. Working without a permit or occupying and conducting business without proper authorization can be costly. When in doubt, call the Building Inspections Division for information.
Conditions for which a building permit or Occupancy Application is Required:
- Prior to starting any "new" construction (commercial or residential)
- Prior to starting any "renovations" (commercial or residential)
- Prior to "starting or occupying" any existing building (commercial)
- When any "change in use, ownership or name" of any existing business occurs
- Prior to "erecting, mounting or replacing" any signage (commercial)
This list does not contain every instance where a building permit or a Certificate of Occupancy is required. Each project is reviewed on its own merits as it pertains to current codes. Contact the Building
Inspections Division at 910-458-8238 for more information.
While codes cannot prevent every disaster, they are meant to provide reasonable controls for the construction, use and occupancy of buildings. These controls are minimum standards for the health, safety and welfare of the occupants and secondly for protection of the structure. A good building design can provide safety and sanitation without sacrificing aesthetic value, functionality and cost efficiency.
While the earliest building code can be traced to the Babylonian Empire about 2000 BC, the Great Chicago Fire was a classic example of codes being created to respond to a specific disaster. North Carolina has not been immune from unfortunate events driving updates in the building codes.
Who Makes the Codes?
Building codes are developed similarly to the law making process. Many groups of people are involved: developers, material suppliers, engineers, architects, builders, and governmental leaders. Recently all code organizations such as BOCA (Building Officials and Code Administrators), CBO (International Council of Building Officials) and SBBCI (Southern Building Code Congress) have merged to form the ICC (International Code Council). Hearings are held every 18 months for code changes. Anyone who would like to make a change to the code can be heard.
Codes are then adopted by the State, and each jurisdiction of the State of NC is then obligated to enforce the State Building Code.
Building Code officials receive frequent training and updates, but must apply human intuition to interpreting codes written by others. You can appeal an interpretation made by a Code Official to the State Department of Insurance which oversees code issues.
A good resource for interpretation of building code issues is the website www.ncdoi.com/OSFMEngineering/engineering_home.asp
This procedure pertains to existing commercial buildings or tenant space for the
Town of Carolina Beach including the Town's Extraterritorial Jurisdiction.
This procedure pertains to existing commercial buildings or tenant space for the Town of Carolina Beach including the Town's Extraterritorial Jurisdiction. Some items, such as Sanitation review, are not required for businesses in the Town's Extraterritorial Jurisdiction.
Note that it is strongly urged to investigate what will be needed for compliance with the State Building Code before you invest in this process.
Suggested Preliminary Action (One or more of these options):
Option 1: Do it Yourself Ensure Zoning Compliance
Before a permit can be issued by the Town, the property has to be determined to be properly zoned for the intended use.
Investigate Adequacy of the Building
Before a permit can be issued, the building meet codes. This can be complicated if there is a different use of the building other than the one of the former occupant.
Ensure Water & Sewer Regulations are Met
This usually requires a count of the water and sewer fixtures (toilets, sinks, etc.) that are proposed for the interior of the building.
A "Windshield" Review
This is a free, informal review with the Town Inspections Division, Planning Division and sometimes others to give you an opinion about the adequacy of the building and information about the zoning for a specific site and your desired business. A full site plan and scaled drawing would be helpful in this review.
Option 3:Special Request Inspection
This is a formal review which produces a written report. Town divisions are polled about the site and on site inspection is made. This requires a scaled drawing, but sometimes a previously used building has a plan already on file with the Town. A full site plan can be required in some instances. There is a fee for this service.
Before You File for Permits:
- Review what is needed carefully. Get the answers about what might be needed before you file for a Building Permit or Certificate of Need.
- You will need a scaled drawing. Sometimes a scaled drawing can be obtained from the Town if one was on file from a previous occupant of the building.
- You will need a set of plans for any renovations you desire to make.
These steps are required for all permits to use existing buildings:
Your Step #1
- APPLY FOR BUILDING PERMIT
- Go to the Inspections Division to file an Application.
- Application must include an 'as-is' floor plan and a proposed scaled floor plan along with two sets of complete drawings showing proposed renovations.One set to be electronic version.
- Drawings may be required to have an Engineer's or Architect's Stamp depending on the total project cost of the renovations as well as the total value or size of the building
- A Fee is required for this action. The Fee is dependent on the value of the building and is set by Town Ordinance.
Your Step #2
- APPLY FOR A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY PERMIT
- Can be done at the Inspections Division at the same time as Building Permit.
- A Fee is required for this action. The Fee is dependent on the value of the building and is set by Ordinance
Now that you have applied, here is what the Town has to do:
Town Action #1
Receive Permit Applications
- Accept filing of the Building Permit and Certificate of Occupancy application. A case is opened.
Town Action #2
- Building Inspections Office verifies that the use is permitted by the zoning.
- If it is not, then compliance must be achieved before the process continues.
Town Action #3
Public Services Approval
- The Public Services Department must review the water and sewer issues, determine if soil and erosion control measures might be needed.
- The Sanitation Division must sign off on the business location for compliance with Town ordinances and procedures.
- Town Action #4
Town Action #4
Fire Department Approval
- The Town's Fire Marshal must approve the building plans.
Town Action #5
- Review of all verifications
- Review of drawings for compliance with Building Codes
Town Action #6
- When all reviews are made with satisfactory results and all verifications are received, then a
Building Permit is issued.
Town Action #7
- Inspections by the Town as required
Town Action #8
Issuance of Certificate of Occupancy
- When inspections are complete and verification that codes, regulations and requirements as noted have been met, then the Certificate of Occupancy is issued.
Privilege (Business) Registration
A business operation may require a business registration or permit to operate in the Town. Business Registration: (910) 707-2044
The Town has regulations for outside signage. This applies to the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction also. Town Planning: (910) 458-2978
If you are inside the Town limits, call Waste Industries for information about Recycling and Sanitation service. (910) 762-7563
If you are inside the Town limits, the Town’s Fire Department will do an inspection Fire Marshall: (910) 458-2985
If you are inside the Town limits, Police Community Services will offer to provide consultation. Community Services Unit: 910 458-7061
Each and every application is reviewed on its own merits. Every use and or location has unique circumstances. Don't assume because one business is located in a similar building that another building would be allowed that use.
Business Registration Requirements:
The Town of Carolina Beach requires all brick and mortar businesses that have a physical location within the jurisdictional limits of the Town to register the business annually.
Privilege License Requirements:
All persons, firms or corporations engaging in the sale of beer, wine or operating a taxi within Town limits are required to obtain a Privilege License annually.
Application and Resources:
The Town’s Business Registration and Privilege License Ordinances, an application, and the fee schedule are all available on the Town of Carolina Beach website at www.carolinabeach.org. Any questions should be directed to the Planning and Zoning Department at (910) 458-2978
Existing Business in the existing location (annual fee)............................................ $10.00
New Business or Existing Business in a new location............................................. $20.00
ABC Permit Tax for corresponding license.................................................... §105-113.77
On-premise malt beverage................................................................................. $15.00
Off-premise malt beverage................................................................................... $5.00
On-premise unfortified and/or fortified wine........................................................... $15.00
Off-premise unfortified and/or fortified wine........................................................... $10.00
Transportation Service Permits Fee
Taxicab Service Owner/Operator Annual Fee........................... $15.00 per year per vehicle
Taxicab Driver Annual Fee................................................................................. $15.00
Pedicab/Rickshaw Owner/Operator Annual Fee.................................................... $10.00
Pedicab/Rickshaw Driver Annual Fee.................................................................. $10.00
Private Bus Service-Application Fee.................................................................. $150.00
Failure to Register:
Businesses operating without a valid registration will be given a 15-day notice to comply. If a business is still not in compliance after being given notice, the Town shall fine the business and/or property owner in accordance to the Town’s annually adopted rates and fees schedule. The current fine, subject to change, is $50 per day for each day the business is operating without a valid registration.
Ordinance No., Section 14-28 Schedule of License Tax states: It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in the sale of beer and/or wine, or operating a taxi within the Town without first obtaining a privilege license and paying for such license. Failure to obtain a privilege license prior to engaging in or continuing any business, trade or profession requiring a privilege license within the Town of Carolina Beach is punishable by a fine or imprisonment, or both within the discretion of the Court. In addition, each day’s continuance in business without purchasing the proper privilege license shall constitute a distinct and separate offense of a $50 fine per day and is liable for an additional tax of five (5) percent of the original tax due for each thirty (30) days or portion thereof that the privilege license tax is delinquent.
The holder of a registration/license must immediately notify the Town of Carolina Beach of any changes in location, services or goods sold. Failure to do so within 30 days of the change will cause all registrations/licenses issued to the holder to be revoked.
Any place of business operating as one business but with separate locations much obtain a separate registration/license for each business location.
Time Periods, Renewals, Late Fees:
- Registrations are valid from July 1 to June 30 of each year
- A renewal notice is mailed to current registration/license holders 30 days prior to expiration
- Businesses operating without a valid registration/license will be given a 15-day notice to comply
- Non-compliance after the 15-day notice will result in a fine of $50 per day for each day the business is operating without a valid registration. In addition, any business engaged in the sale of beer and/or wine without a current privilege license is subject to an additional tax of five (5) percent of the original tax due for each thirty (30) days or portion thereof that the privilege license tax is delinquent.
The Planning Department is ready to answer questions about the Town's licenses. Contact Planning at (910)458-8218. The state has a License Information Office available at www.secretary.state.nc.us or by calling 800-228-8443.
Signage is how people find your business. In Carolina Beach, it is regulated by the Town's Zoning Ordinance. It's not part of getting a building permit, but it is equally important for some businesses.
Sign Regulations can be found in Section 109 of the Zoning Ordinance, which like other portions of the Ordinance, can be found online at the City's website, or by visiting the Planning Division at City Hall. The following is a synopsis of the basic allowance criteria.
- An individual parcel of land in a commercial zoning district is allowed 2 square foot of total signage for every 1foot of linear street lot frontage.
- Most parcels are allowed only one freestanding sign. That sign may be no greater in size than
.75% of the linear street lot frontage.
- Wall signage is calculated by the total allowed for the parcel minus any freestanding signage.
- Shopping Centers or Strip Centers: Wall signage for shopping centers and strip centers is based on the width of the tenant space. A tenant space is allowed two square foot of front wall signage for every one foot of tenant space width.
- In most instances, if the type of use (retail, office, service shop, etc.) is not changing, existing signage may continue with only replacing the face of the sign or signs.
- If a change of use is occurring and the existing signage is not in compliance with the current regulations, no new signage can be installed unless it complies with current regulations as listed above.
A permit is required for all outdoor signage.
The Town stands ready to serve businesses inside the Town limits.
There are two main type of commercial business services: Small business service and commercial dumpster service.
Small Business Service:
Please call the Sanitation Division at 910-762-7563 for determination, but many small businesses that do not generate a great deal of waste are eligible for rollout containers that are collected on the residential schedule. Your location, and your type of business will determine your commercial service option.
Commercial Dumpster Service
The Sanitation Division will assist a commercial business needing dumpster service within the Town limits. The options are too varied to list here, but include frequency of collection and type of dumpster. There are requirements for the placement of certain sanitation and recycling devices even within the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction.
Requirements for Refuse Collection Screening
The Town of Carolina Beach screening and buffer yard requirements can be found in Section 26-6 of the Zoning Ordinance. This information should be of importance for new businesses, including those in the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction:
- Sanitation division determines size and number of collection containers required.
- Any new dumpster put into service shall be screened and put on a pad in accordance with the Zoning Ordinance.
- Minimum screening requirement is an opaque fence 6 feet high or the height of the container, whichever is greater. Chain link is prohibited.
- Any fence greater than 6 feet in height must be engineered and permitted through building inspections. (State Building Code)
- Roll out carts are not exempt from screening requirements.
- Refuse collection areas must be behind the front wall of the primary building front and 5 feet off the side and rear property boundaries.
- The refuse collection area must be located so that the refuse collection trucks can reasonably access and leave the site safely. Trucks may not back onto a city street.
- Refuse collection areas should not be located directly under power lines or within easements.
- Administrative flexibility is available for certain hardships.
- Restaurants and certain other uses must drain the dumpster pad via a grease trap into the sanitary sewer.
- Effective January 1, 2008 all establishments that have a permit for on-site consumption of alcoholic beverages shall recycle.
Assistance With Recycling
Some businesses are required by NC State law to recycle. Others desire to participate in a recycling program. Call the Sanitation Division at 910-762-7563 for more information.
Q: What do you need to start or open a business in Carolina Beach?
A: You will need Zoning approval from the Planning Division, a Certificate of Occupancy from the Inspection Division and a business Registration. See the contact information for connection information.
Q: What is my property zoned? Can I open or start a business there?
A: Please contact the Town Planning Division at 910-458-2978 for zoning designation and a list of permitted uses in particular zoning districts.
Q: Where can I construct and or place a detached building on my property?
A: Setbacks for any structure may vary in each zoning district. Contact the Planning Division for minimum setback requirements.
Q: When is a building permit required?
A: A permit may be required for any new construction, renovations or repairs. Please contact the Building Inspections Division.
Q: I would like to start a business from my home. What do I need?
A: You will need Zoning Approval from the Planning Division and a Business Registration. The Town of Carolina Beach Zoning Ordinance has strict regulations governing "home businesses" and some business activities are not permitted. Contact the Planning Division for more detailed information and application forms.
Q: I would like to do Family Child Care in my home? What do I need?
A: Contact the New Hanover Partnership for Children at 910 815-3731. The Town of Carolina Beach requires that you be a licensed daycare provider before zoning approval is granted. Once licensed, you must have Zoning Approval from the Planning Division and a business Registration. Contact the Planning Division for more detailed information and application forms.
For more "Frequently Asked Questions" and detailed information about the Planning, Zoning and Building Permits, visit the Town of Carolina Beach Website at www.carolinabeach.org/ or call the appropriate division listed in the contacts.