Inside your county government
A ‘How-to’ guide for business buildings and spaces
Businesses provide our community with essential goods and services. In Charles County, businesses positively impact more than 154,000 residents. If you want to open a business in Charles County, the Department of Growth Management’s Permits counter is a great place to start.
The first step is to determine if your business will be located in an existing building or if you require a newly constructed space. If you are moving into an existing building, you can use the expedited Green Card process. You will need to complete the Building Permit, Wastewater Discharge Permit, and Cross Connection Control Permit applications. Bring completed forms and required fees to the Permits counter, located in the Charles County Government Building (200 Baltimore Street, La Plata).
If you are constructing a new building or altering a current one, an important step is to hire a contractor. Make sure your contractor has commercial contracting experience, proper licenses, and can complete the work in a timely, cost-effective manner.
If you are altering an existing commercial space, use the Commercial Alterations process. For the Commercial Alterations process, you must complete the required building permit applications. You will be required to provide architectural drawings and engineering designs. Keep in mind a permit must be obtained prior to beginning plumbing, electrical, or mechanical work. You can find the complete list of required forms online at: www. Charles-County-MD.gov/PGM/ CPIS/Permits.
If you are interested in running a business from your home, check zoning regulations to ensure the business and its location are compliant. For zoning regulations, visit www.Charles-County-MD.gov/sites/ default/files/pgm/planning/homeoccprmt.pdf.
Businesses involving food sales need to obtain a food service license. This includes restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, institutions, grocery stores, carry-out locations, caterers, mobile units, gas stations, liquor stores, schools, and bed and breakfasts. Food service licenses are provided by the Charles County Department of Health. More information is available at www.Charles-County-Health.org or by calling 301-609-6900.
When you are ready to open to the public, you may want to announce your business’ arrival with a new sign. A sign permit is needed for wall-mounted or free-standing signs. This serves as a safety measure for you, employees, and customers by avoiding a falling, unstable sign. Learn more about sign permits by visiting www.Charles-CountyMD.gov/PGM/CPIS/Permits.
Once you receive your permits, an inspection will be scheduled by your contractor with the county’s inspection service. The inspection ensures building plans follow the county’s codes prior to occupancy and during construction.
Visit www.CharlesCountyMD.gov for additional information on the permits process. Click on “FAQ” (Frequently Asked Questions), and scroll to the Department of Planning and Growth Management. Or click the down arrow in the “How do I…?” box then click “Apply for a Permit.” If you have questions, call the Codes, Permits, and Inspections Division at 301-645-0692, or visit the Permits counter in the Charles County Government Building (200 Baltimore Street, La Plata). We look forward to celebrating your grand opening.
Peter Aluotto is the Charles County director of planning and growth management.