Zoning Code Enforcement | Zoning & Planning Department (2022)

The Charleston County Zoning and Planning Department responds to community concerns regarding zoning and litter, investigates zoning and litter violations, and ensures community compliance with the following County ordinances: Charleston County Zoning and Land Development Regulations Ordinance (ZLDR), Regulation of Weeds, Rank Vegetation, and Solid Waste, and the Litter Control Ordinance. These ordinances are intended to protect the health, safety and general welfare of existing and future residents of Charleston County. It is our responsibility to enforce these ordinances to ensure the best quality of life for our residents and the environment in which our residents live.

Staff investigates concerns involving public and private properties in the unincorporated areas of Charleston County. The regulations enforced by this department do not supersede the regulations of any municipality within the County.

*IMPORTANT: Please note that these are summaries and are to be used only as references. To read through the ordinance sections in their entirety, please refer to the applicable ordinance.

Accessory Structures

Accessory structures are allowed without a principal structure in Agricultural zoning districts. In all other zoning districts, a principal structure must be present before an accessory structure can be added to the property.

No zoning permit is required for a one-story accessory structure with a building footprint of 120 square feet or less. A zoning permit is required for any accessory structure greater than 120 square feet and/or for the placement or construction of more than one accessory structure.

In residential zoning districts and the Residential Office (OR) Zoning District, all accessory structures except garages and carports must be on the rear of the lot behind the main home or office.

Accessory Dwelling Units (including garage units)

See "Accessory Structure" above.

A zoning permit is required prior to converting an accessory structure into an accessory dwelling unit. Only one accessory dwelling unit is allowed per lot.

The heated gross floor area of an accessory dwelling unit cannot exceed 800 square feet in Residential zoning districts or 1,500 square feet in Agricultural zoning districts.

The lot must have a minimum area at least 50% larger than the minimum area required for a principal residential structure. For example, if the minimum required area for your zoning district is 1 acre (~43,560sf) then 50% larger = 1.5 acres (~65,340sf). 1.5 acres (~65,340sf) would be required to have a principal residential structure and an accessory dwelling unit.


The County is authorized to assign or change addresses for the purposes of public safety and emergency response. Upon notification of a new address or an address change, it is the duty of the owner, occupant or agent of each house, building or other structure to post the address on the structure within twenty-one (21) days. Residential numbers must be at least three inches in height. Business numbers must be at least four inches in height. All numbers must be clearly visible above, on or at the side of the appropriate door so that the number is clearly visible from the street. In cases where the building is situated more than 50 feet from the street or road, the building number also must be placed near the driveway, common entrance to the building, upon the mailbox, gatepost, fence or other appropriate place so as to clearly be visible from the street or road.

Failure to comply with addressing requirements may result in a maximum fine of $200 and/or a maximum of 30 days in jail.

(Video) What Are Zoning Codes?

Commercial Change Of Use (including leased units, office suites, etc.)

ZLDR (§3.8.1 D)

A zoning permit is required prior to every change in use. For example, Business A, a law office, is no longer in operation at 123 Line Drive. Before Business B, an accounting firm, begins operation at 123 Line Drive, a zoning permit must be obtained for Business B. A zoning permit is only valid for one location at a time and cannot be transferred without zoning approval. Simple rule of thumb: a zoning permit is required prior to obtaining a business license.


ZLDR (§3.8.1 A)

A zoning permit is required prior to any construction that requires a building permit.


ZLDR (§3.8.2 C)

A permit is required for the installation of any fence that is taller than six feet or is made of brick, stone, or concrete, regardless of height. A fence cannot block the view of a vehicular access to a roadway from a residential driveway.

Home Occupations

ZLDR (§6.5.11)

(Video) An Introduction to Zoning

Home occupations are types of work that can be conducted at home with virtually no effect on the surrounding neighborhood. Additionally, home occupations must comply with a set of standards, some of which are: the operator of the home occupation must be a full-time resident in the home; hours of operation between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; one customer per hour (on average); one commercial vehicle is allowed; no exterior commercial modifications are allowed; and no signs shall be posted for the business; A zoning permit is required for a home occupation. See §6.5.11 of the Zoning and Land Development Regulations Ordinance for more on conditional home occupations such as car repair/rental/sales, bed and breakfast establishments, animal care/boarding and medical offices/clinics.

Illegal Dumping/Solid Waste

(Regulation of Weeds, Rank Vegetation, and Solid Waste)

Undeveloped property is allowed to remain in its natural condition. Once a residential or commercial property is developed (i.e., no longer in its natural condition), the owner or occupant must maintain the property and not allow it to become overgrown (e.g., high grass, vines, excessive weeds, etc.).

No property, developed or undeveloped, may be used for the storage of solid waste (e.g. garbage, junk, refuse, demolition materials, etc.). The owner or occupant of the property is required to maintain the property, keep the grass cut and rid the property of solid waste as often as necessary.

Land Disturbance

A zoning permit is required for any activity that disturbs the earth including (but not limited to): clearing/grubbing, grading, filling, surfacing, drainage, road construction, driveway construction and resource extraction (mining or excavation for ponds).


(Litter Control Ordinance)

No person shall dump, throw, drop, deposit, discard or otherwise dispose of litter or other solid waste upon any public or private property in the Charleston County. The person responsible for littering is responsible for the removal of that litter. However, if the person responsible for littering is unknown or if there is no charge or conviction of a person for the litter violation, then the owner of the property is responsible for the removal of the litter. If litter travels by forces of nature (wind, water, etc.) onto another property, the owner of the property of origin of the litter is responsible for the removal of litter from the property.

See the link for Environmental Codes Brochure under "Illegal Dumping/Solid Waste" above.

Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes are allowed in all residential and agricultural zoning districts. However, in the Single Family Residential 4 (R-4), Mixed Style Residential 8 (M-8) and Mixed Style Residential 12 (M-12) zoning districts, the permitting of manufactured homes is based on the percentage of manufactured homes in the vicinity. If the number of manufactured homes in a specific area (a 300-foot radius of the property in which someone wants to place a manufactured home) is less than 25% of the existing homes in that specific area, then the placement of a new manufactured home requires a Public Hearing and approval by the Charleston County Board of Zoning Appeals before a zoning permit or building permit can be issued.

The applicant (an individual or company) for manufactured home zoning permits must be a state licensed manufactured home installer or transporter. The following documentation is required in order to obtain a manufactured home zoning permit: site plan (drawn to engineer's scale), approved and recorded plat, proof of public water service availability or S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control well approval, and proof of public sewer service availability or S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control septic system approval.

(Video) Planning and Zoning Commission

Nonconformities (i.e. "grandfathered")

A nonconforming use, structure, sign or lot refers to a use, structure, sign or lot that is no longer in compliance with the current regulations, however, it was legally established under previous regulations. The burden of proof for a nonconformity claim is upon the owner of the nonconformity.

Recreational Vehicles

ZLDR (§6.5.13)

Major recreation equipment such as recreational vehicles (RVs) cannot be used for living, sleeping or housekeeping on residential properties or outside of legally established RV parks or campgrounds.


ZLDR (§9.11.1)

A zoning permit is required for all signs except real estate signs less than 12 square feet and election signs.

Prohibited signs include: flashing signs; signs imitating traffic devices (signals); signs imitating traffic signs; signs in marshes; signs in rights-of-way; snipe signs; vehicle signs; roof signs; and off-premises signs (except billboards, shared signs and bona fide agricultural use signs).

Storage Units

ZLDR (§6.5.16)

Permanent Storage Units (e.g., shipping containers) can be used as an accessory structure, after obtaining a zoning permit, but only in the following zoning districts: RM, AG-15, AG-10, AG-8, AGR, Community Commercial (CC), and Industrial (I).

Temporary Portable Storage Units
A temporary zoning permit is required for the storage of temporary portable storage units (e.g. PODS) on a property for longer than fifteen (15) consecutive days. A temporary zoning permit allows the unit to be stored on the property for a maximum of sixty (60) days per calendar year. The unit is limited to a maximum of 160 square feet. Temporary portable storage units shall not be used for the storage of hazardous or flammable substances, live animals or humans.

A zoning permit is not required for a temporary portable storage unit used in conjunction with active construction and active building permits.

(Video) The Role of a Planning Commission in Zoning

Also, see "Accessory Structure" section above


ZLDR (§9.4.1)

In residential zoning districts, any tree less than 24 inches diameter breast height (DBH) may be removed without a zoning permit. Any grand tree (a tree measuring 24 inches or greater DBH, excluding pine trees) must be inspected and a zoning permit is required before it can be cut down or otherwise removed.

In commercial zoning districts, do not remove any trees on the site until zoning approval is granted.

Individual pine trees are exempt from Charleston County tree regulations and may be removed without zoning permits. However, in cases of the removal of multiple pine trees on a single lot, please contact County staff prior to beginning that activity.

Vehicles (repair, private sales, inoperable, commercial vehicles in residential zoning districts, etc.)

ZLDR (§6.5.14)

Repair of Vehicles in Residential Areas
See "Storage of Inoperable Vehicles" below. Additionally, in all Suburban Residential zoning districts, storage of motor vehicle parts is allowed only within a completely enclosed accessory structure on the same lot as the main home.

Storage of Inoperable Vehicles
In all zoning districts, the open storage/repair of inoperable motor vehicles is not allowed in the front yard.

In Agricultural zoning districts and the Rural Residential (RR-3) Zoning District, inoperable vehicles must be completely screened from the view off-property. There is not a limitation on the number of inoperable vehicles allowed in Agricultural zoning districts and the Rural Residential (RR-3) Zoning District. In the Suburban Residential, Office, Commercial and Industrial zoning districts, more than two inoperable motor vehicles per lot is not allowed (except at an authorized salvage yard).

Commercial Vehicles
A resident may have one commercial vehicle in Residential zoning districts only if the commercial vehicle is also used as personal transportation.

Vehicle Sales
No more than two operable or inoperable vehicles may be offered for sale on a residential lot, and the vehicle(s) must be owned by the owner of the property.

(Video) Zoning


What are the disadvantages of zoning? ›

Zoning requires that all involved property owners relinquish some of their individual property freedoms for the common good. Zoning can discourage some development in some locations. Zoning can increase the cost of building new structures. Zoning can work against historic mixed use neighborhoods in older communities.

What is land use zoning? ›

Land use zoning is a method used by the government to classify parcels of land and restrict the physical development or use of certain parcels of land. Learn about the definition, codes, and types of land zoning, including residential, historical, commercial and industrial. Updated: 10/17/2021.

What is the importance of land use planning? ›

Land-use planning therefore derives from the need to satisfy these needs on the ground, in a rational manner and within a technical framework. It is a crucial part of the process of Integrated Development Planning which includes social and economic planning and reflects their land-use/spatial components.

How does zoning work Europe? ›

They are generally very low impact and can be located in all residential commercial and industrial

What is zoning in planning? ›

Zoning is a method of urban planning in which a municipality or other tier of government divides land into areas called zones, each of which has a set of regulations for new development that differs from other zones.

What are the 7 types of land use? ›

... categorized land use into seven types: residential area, institutional area, industrial area, road greenbelt, roadside, park, and forest.

What are the 5 types of land use? ›

There are five main different types of land use: residential, agricultural, recreation, transportation, and commercial. Managing the various uses of land occurs through partnerships between state, federal, and municipal entities, but many decisions affecting local projects occur at the municipal level.

What are the 8 types of land use? ›

These types include: residential, commercial, agricultural, transportation, recreational, and industrial uses.

What is the importance of zoning laws? ›

Zoning laws help to ensure that a community is laid out in the most convenient and efficient manner and that areas reserved for related and complimentary uses are located in close proximity. For example, ideally, you would want to locate schools in close proximity to the residential neighborhoods they serve.

What are the main elements of a land use plan? ›

The process of land use planning and its implementation, which is land use management as defined above, hinges on three elements: the stakeholders, the quality or limitations of each component of the land unit, and the viable land use options in the area.

What are the six types of land use? ›

It represents the economic and cultural activities (e.g., agricultural, residential, industrial, mining, and recreational uses) that are practiced at a given place. Public and private lands frequently represent very different uses.

What is another word for zoning? ›

In this page you can discover 8 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for zoning, like: controlled development, city planning, urban-planning, municipal planning, administration, plan, and landuse.

What is the meaning of zoning laws? ›

/ˈzoʊ·nɪŋ/ the act of setting rules for the use of land and the types of structures that can be built on it: The town's new zoning establishes a height limit of eight stories on any new building. San Francisco has strict zoning laws to preserve neighborhoods.

What is zoning and types of zoning? ›

Zoning ordinances are the written laws that provide the specifications for the use of real estate in different zones. These laws prohibit the construction of a commercial real estate in a residential zone. Zoning ensures that lands are prudently demarcated for a particular purpose.

What are the types of zones? ›

The number can specify the level of use, or it may indicate a certain amount of acreage or square footage for that particular property.
  • Residential Zoning. Residential zones can include: ...
  • Commercial Zoning. ...
  • Industrial Zoning. ...
  • Agricultural Zoning. ...
  • Rural Zoning. ...
  • Combination Zoning. ...
  • Historic Zoning. ...
  • Aesthetic Zoning.
20 Apr 2020

Which of the following is not a land use zone? ›

The correct answer is Marginal land.

What are the types of land? ›

Type of Land Area (PD3922)
  • Urban/Built-up Land.
  • Agricultural Land.
  • Rangeland.
  • Forest Land.
  • Water Areas.
  • Wetland.
  • Barren Land.
  • Tundra.

What is form based zoning? ›

Form-Based Zoning- Focuses on building form as it relates to streetscape and adjacent uses. Encourages mixed use. Relies on design concepts and patterns intended to preserve the assets and character of a community.

Why do zoning authorities create different types of zones? ›

Why do zoning authorities create different types of zones? To ensure that a variety of building structures are available in the community. To separate land uses so that they do not interfere with each other.

What does land zoned for residential mean? ›

Residential zoning includes single-family residences, suburban homesteads, and other designations like houses, apartments, co-ops, and condos. Residential zoning laws cover issues like whether a mobile home is allowed to be placed on a property and how many structures can be built on specific properties.

What are the 10 types of land uses? ›

These can include residential, institutional, business, industrial, agricultural, forestry, park, and other relatively natural land uses. Each of these broader categories can be further subdivided, based on the nature and intensity of the activities that are undertaken.

What are the types of rural land use? ›

All kinds of rural land use are involved: agriculture, pastoralism, forestry, wildlife conservation and tourism.

What is land use classification? ›

A land—use classification is a classification providing information on land cover, and the types of human activity involved in land use. It may also facilitate the assessment of environmental impacts on, and potential or alternative uses of, land.

What determines land use? ›

The use of land is determined both by physical factors such as topography, climate, soil types as well as human factors such as population density, technological capability and culture and traditions etc. Was this answer helpful?

What are the two types of land? ›

The different types of land are known as biomes. These are divided into four classifications: desert, forest, grassland and tundra. Land biomes are typically defined by the type of vegetation they possess, the types of animals that inhabit them and their climate, such as rainfall and temperature.

What type of property is land? ›


In real estate, a lot or land is a parcel of property owned or meant to be owned by someone. It comes in various sizes and shapes and has defined boundaries or borders that are documented on land titles.

What is land use Grade 6? ›

land use refers to land which has been used to build stadiums, parks, hotels and swimming pools.

What is yellow zone land? ›

Decoding Zoning Colours For Land Mapping
ColourLand use
Light YellowMain/mixed residential use land
Dark YellowMixed residential use properties. Essential services such as grocery store, doctor's clinic can be permitted. Around 33 per cent commercial activity is permitted in yellow zone.
7 more rows
1 Apr 2019

What are the problems of land use? ›

Current land use challenges include urban sprawl, infrastructure congestion, accessibility to services, urban density, urban regeneration and negative externalities, such as pollution and the displacement of population due to excessive house prices and land hoarding. Gerber et al.

What is the importance about zoning and permits? ›

Zoning permits are important because they grant individuals the rights to action concerning land structures, only if they ensure the protection of safety and health of the surrounding people and the general welfare related to land use.

What document usually guides most local zoning? ›

A zoning ordinance is the law. It regulates things including land use; building form, placement, size, spacing, parcel area, width, depth; types of land uses allowed in a district. Because an ordinance is law, it includes consequences for violations.

How do I find local zoning laws? ›

The best place to look for your local laws is at the office of your city or town government. The offices of the mayor, city attorney, or department of housing, are also a good place to start. Some public libraries may also have local ordinance materials.

What are the methods of land use planning? ›

A wide variety of methods are used in land-use planning They are taken from the natural sciences (climatology, soil science, ecology), from technology (agriculture, forestry, irrigation engineering) and from the social sciences (economics, sociology). Some of the methods, notably land evaluation, are interdisciplinary.

What are the disadvantages of land use planning? ›

Land Use Planning Cons

A high cost because of malinvestment. This regulation process takes a lengthy amount of time to complete. Land-use planning can have administrative and bureaucratic bottlenecks. Local remedies to reforestation and food control are actively discouraged.

What is rural land use planning? ›

In simple terms, land use planning is about making decisions on a sustainable form of land use in rural areas and the initiation of the appropriate options and measures for implementation and monitoring.

What is land use Class 8? ›

Land is used for different purposes such as agriculture, forestry, mining, building houses, roads and setting up of industries. This is commonly termed as Land use.

What is a mixed land use? ›

As regards to the mixed land-use, it refers to the mixture of many types of buildings that have different uses in the layout itself. For example, there may be a mixture of residential buildings located nearby the office buildings, shops, cinemas, schools, coffee shops, parks and transport stations [2].

What do you call someone who zones out? ›

Unprepared or not paying attention. off-guard. unawares. unprepared.

What does it mean to zone in? ›

To focus or concentrate on something. zone out Informal. To lose concentration or become inattentive. Idiom: in the zone.

What is the word for in the zone? ›

Adjective. (sports) Engaged in skilled performance without conscious control. unconscious. unstoppable. dominant.

What does zoning mean in text? ›

To refuse to pay attention to someone or something; ignore someone or something: The athlete zoned out the jeering crowd and made the free-throw shot. Every time I try to give you advice, you zone out everything I say.

What is land use control? ›

Land use planning and regulation restricts how land can be used. Tax policies can provide incentives to guide land use by encouraging compact development and prevent urban sprawl.

What do you mean by ordinances? ›

Definition of ordinance

1a : an authoritative decree or direction : order On that day the king signed three ordinances. b : a law set forth by a governmental authority specifically : a municipal regulation A city ordinance forbids construction work to start before 8 a.m.

How many zones are there in real estate? ›

Types of zones in real estate

Retail for malls or high-street complexes. Industrial for heavy industries, factories and manufacturing units. Agricultural for farming. Public and semi-public for infrastructure development.

What is hard zoning? ›

Hard zoning is zoning which is implemented in hardware switches. In a storage area network (SAN), zoning is the allocation of resources for device load balancing and for selectively allowing access to data only to certain users. Essentially, zoning allows an administrator to control who can see what in a SAN.

What is zoning in security? ›

Zoning is used to mitigate the risk of an open network by segmenting infrastructure services into logical groupings that have the same communication security policies and security requirements. The zones are separated by perimeters (Zone Interface Points) implemented through security and network devices.

What are the disadvantages of land use? ›

  • Conversion of farmland and forests to urban development reduces the amount of land available for food and timber production.
  • Soil erosion, salinization, desertification, and other soil degradations associated with agricultural production and deforestation reduce land quality and agricultural productivity.

What is advantage of density zoning? ›

Density Zoning Helps Manage Growth

Density zoning allows cities and counties to restrict and manage growth and development in accordance with their objectives. Local governments may establish minimum or maximum density requirements for future development projects.

Why does the US have zoning laws? ›

Zoning laws first came into existence in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century as various state and local governments sought to regulate property development to promote efficiency and to regulate use.

What are the 7 types of land use? ›

... categorized land use into seven types: residential area, institutional area, industrial area, road greenbelt, roadside, park, and forest.

What is the most damaging change in land use? ›

Desertification resulting from land-use change has a considerable impact on soil processes, including soil carbon, soil structure, soil biota, and soil fertility. Invasive species of plants and animals also influence changes in soils and biotic communities.

What are the advantages of zoning? ›

The purpose of zoning is to allow local and national authorities to regulate and control land and property markets to ensure complementary uses. Zoning can also provide the opportunity to stimulate or slow down development in specific areas.

Can you build a home on green belt land? ›

The general rule of thumb with Green Belt land is that any and all building developments are prohibited unless they are covered by exceptions in government policy. The main exceptions are for agricultural and forestry buildings, some outdoor sports facilities and extensions or replacements of existing buildings.

What does it mean if property is in Greenbelt? ›

The Agricultural, Forest and Open Space Land Act of 1976, better known as the Greenbelt Law, allows certain land to be taxed on its present use instead of market value.

Why we should not build on green belt? ›

In short, strong greenbelts don't deliver the kind of development people want in the places where they want to live. These costs need to be offset against the benefits of preserving undeveloped land.

What document usually guides most local zoning? ›

A zoning ordinance is the law. It regulates things including land use; building form, placement, size, spacing, parcel area, width, depth; types of land uses allowed in a district. Because an ordinance is law, it includes consequences for violations.

What is the difference between low density and high density housing? ›

Low density housing typically refers to residential areas occupied primarily by single-family homes or buildings with a small number of units. High density areas are typically urban areas with buildings that have a large number of units.

What best defines density zoning? ›

Simply put, density zoning places limitations on property development by controlling the number of structures in a given area to control population density. Density zoning is used in town planning as a tool to either increase density or maintain a low density in an area of the city.

Can local government change the zoning of land? ›

Procedures for requesting a zoning exception or change depend on the local ordinances. You will probably need to file a written application, pay a specified fee, and present your case at a hearing with the zoning board or planning commission.

Is zoning laws determined by local government? ›

Rules promulgated primarily by local governments (cities or towns), that determine and define to what uses the various parcels of property within the jurisdiction can be put.

How does zoning affect the community? ›

Zoning can encourage inclusion, create opportunity, protect open spaces, and prevent truly incompatible land uses from sharing the same space. When done thoughtfully, zoning can connect people and places, not just divide us. Communities across the US are beginning to reexamine the role of zoning and change the rules.


1. How To Guide: Planning and Zoning Map
2. Planning Commission Zoning Code Study Session – April 26, 2021
(City of Dana Point)
3. Cobb County Planning Commission Zoning Hearing - 07/05/22
(Cobb County Government)
4. Planning and Zoning Commission Open Meeting - June 20, 2022
(City of Plano Texas)
5. How to Check Property Zoning for FREE
(Compass Land USA)
6. County Planning Commission set to discuss oil zoning ordinance
(23 ABC News | KERO)

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