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ZONING PERMITS FOR COMMERCIAL PROJECTS

For zoning permits for work on single-family and duplex homes, visit the Outside the Home or Building/Expanding a Home webpages.

Zoning Use Permits

Zoning use permits ensure land and buildings are used in a manner that matches the community's vision for the future of Denver. New commercial construction, major additions and some tenant-finish/remodel projects undergoing a change of occupancy must submit a site development plan (SDP) before applying for zoning or building permits.

Examples of projects that need a zoning use permit

  • Building a new structure
  • The first occupant of a tenant space in a new structure
  • Changing the use of an existing structure (e.g., converting a retail store into a restaurant)
  • A change in square footage (e.g., if you are proposing to build an addition to your restaurant, store or other structure, or are acquiring additional tenant space in the same structure)
  • Building or changing an accessory (or subordinate) use, even if the primary use is unchanged (e.g., adding outdoor seating to a restaurant or adding outdoor storage to a business)

What to submit

Download the Zoning Use Permit Project Guide (#UP-01)

  1. Fill out and submit the application located in the guide
  2. Use the guide to determine which plans are required for your project type, and what information must be included on the plans. A zoning plan set may have a site plan, floor plans, building elevations, and roof plan, but not every project will require all of these.  
  3. Attach a written project narrative to your application that includes the following: 
    • name of business,
    • scope of work,
    • hours of operation,
    • type of activities, and
    • how you plan to address any use limitations found in Article 11 of the Denver Zoning Code. 
    • There is no required length for the narrative, but you should provide as much detail as possible. 

Customers submitting applications for both zoning use and zoning construction permits only need to submit one plan set.

View plan examples

Download sample plans: single tenants; multiple tenants; additions. (PDFs)

Multiple Denver agencies co-hosted a licensing and permitting event for marijuana facilities on March 7, 2018. Download slide deck or watch a video replay here.

Examples of marijuana businesses that need zoning use, and potentially, zoning construction permits

  • New marijuana operations,
  • Expanding marijuana operations, 
  • Marijuana operations with new owners or a change of name, and
  • Marijuana businesses applying for or renewing business licenses.

What to submit for zoning use permits

Download the Marijuana Businesses Project Guide (#UP-02) (PDF)

  1. Fill out and submit the use permit application located in the guide
  2. Use the guide to determine which zoning plans are required for your project type, and what information must be included on the plans. A zoning plan set may have a site plan, floor plans, building elevations, and roof plan, but not every project will require all of these.  
  3. Attach a written project narrative to your application that includes the following: 
    • name of business,
    • scope of work,
    • hours of operation,
    • type of activities, and
    • how you plan to address any use limitations found in the Project Guide (PDF). 
    • There is no required length for the narrative, but you should provide as much detail as possible.
  4. For marijuana-infused products (MIPs) or extraction operations only: Also fill out and submit the supplemental application for MIPs/extraction operations located in the guide (Both the general zoning application and the more detailed MIPs/extraction application are required.)

Zoning construction permits

You will also need a zoning construction permit if your work includes any changes to the building's exterior. Follow the instructions in the drop-down menus under "zoning construction permits" below. 

Customers submitting applications for both zoning use and zoning construction permits only need to submit one zoning plan set.

View plan examples

Click here to view sample plans. (PDF)

Group homes, community care homes, or residential care facilities exist in residential neighborhoods across the country, and have appeared in greater numbers since federal and state governments in the 1970s moved to de-institutionalize people with disabilities and encourage their placement in residential settings. Today, there are hundreds of licensed care facilities in Denver neighborhoods. 

  • For potential applicants, residents, and neighbors who want to know more about how group homes are regulated in Denver, download the Group Home FAQs (PDF).

Resources for neighbors and applicants

Report a concern

To report a concern regarding activities inside a residential care home (e.g., quality of care, patient rights, operating without a license), please do so via CDPHE online.

To report an exterior property concern (like one of these common issues), please visit Denver's 311 Help center

Examples of projects that need a temporary use permit

  • Admission-based amusement, entertainment, or recreation activities
  • Bazaars or other special events
  • Activities related to construction sites (e.g., materials storage, installing fencing, processing concrete etc.)
  • Temporary health services
  • Outdoor retail sales
  • Food trucks operating on private property (will also need a business license)
  • Temporary offices
  • Temporary religious venues
  • Ambulance dispatch and storage
  • Other, known in the zoning code as "unlisted"

What to submit

Download the Temporary Use Permit Project Guide (#TP-02)

  1. Fill out and submit the application located in the guide
  2. Submit a site plan that meets the criteria listed in the guide
  3. Attach a written project narrative to your application that includes the following: 
    • name of business,
    • scope of work,
    • hours of operation,
    • type of activities, and
    • how you plan to address any use limitations, as listed on page 3 of the guide.
    • There is no required length for the narrative, but you should provide as much detail as possible.
  4. For mobile food vendors only: Please submit a permission letter from the property owner with your application.

Generally, whether you are running a daycare from your home or simply using a home office for freelance work, if you intend on doing business from your home on a long-term basis and using your home address as your business address, you must obtain a zoning permit for a home occupation.

What to submit for a zoning permit

Most home occupations are allowed in all zone districts, except in the S-SU-Fx and S-SU-Ix zone districts, which have strict limitations on the range of home occupations allowed. Specific limitations and regulations for home businesses may vary by district; see Steps 1 and 2 of our home occupations webpage for more detail.

Fresh Produce and Cottage Food Sales Home Occupation

Adopted by City Council via text amendment to the zoning code on July 14, 2014, and effective July 18, 2014, this home occupation allows Denver residents to sell raw, uncut produce and homemade cottage foods from their home. Sellers must have grown the produce in their home gardens or off-site at a community garden, urban farm, or another person’s property, and must have prepared the cottage foods at their homes. Cottage foods are defined by the State of Colorado Cottage Food Act and include non-hazardous foods such as tea, honey, jams, jellies, and dried produce.

For rules and requirements associated with this home occupation, information on allowable cottage foods, and best practices, download the Fresh Produce and Cottage Foods Home Occupation Guide (PDF). (En Español)

Business licenses

Once you have secured a zoning permit for your home occupation, check the Denver Business Licensing Center's business index to see if your business requires a license.

Common home occupation types that will require a business license

  • Food preparation - Visit the "Food-Wholesale" page on the Business Licensing website for more information. Additionally, building permits and fire approval are required for commercial-grade kitchens. See the page on kitchen remodels for more information. As part of the licensing process, health inspections of your home facility will be required. 
    NOTE: A food preparation business license is not required if you are only preparing "cottage foods" (as defined by the Colorado Cottage Food Act) for sale with a Fresh Produce and Cottage Food Sales home occupation zoning permit.  

A temporary use permit for special event parking is not transferrable, and is only valid for the designated event, or series of events, listed in the permit application.

Limitations and allowances for special event parking can vary greatly by zone district (e.g., residential zones versus mixed-use commercial). Download the Special Event Parking Project Guide (#TP-01) to review requirements by zone district and make sure that your proposed off-street parking use can be permitted. The Project Guide also contains guidance on signage for temporary parking in all zone districts.

What to submit

Download the Special Event Parking Project Guide (#TP-01)

  1. Fill out and submit the application located in the guide
  2. Submit a site plan that meets the criteria listed in the guide
  3. Attach a written project narrative to your application that includes the following: 
    • name of business,
    • scope of work,
    • hours of operation,
    • type of activities, and
    • how you plan to address any use limitations (as referenced in the project guide).
    • There is no required length for the narrative, but you should provide as much detail as possible.
  4. Demonstrate proof of ownership or submit an affidavit that the applicant is the owner or authorized agent

View plan examples

Click here to view a sample site plan. (PDF)

Zoning Construction Permits

Zoning construction permits ensure what is being built matches zoning requirements for proper placement, height and bulk of a structure. Unlike building permits, zoning construction permits are only necessary for exterior work.

Examples of projects that need a zoning construction permit

Most of these projects will also need building permits, which you can apply for at the same time as your zoning permits. 

  • Building a new structure
  • Building a detached, accessory structure (e.g., garage, storage unit, pool, trash enclosure, gazebo)
  • Additions/expansions
  • Exterior alterations (e.g., doors/windows, changes to the facade, railings, steps, ramps, rooftop equipment, ground-mounted HVAC or mechanical equipment)
  • Site improvements, which include parking areas, landscaping, outdoor lighting, and onsite pedestrian circulation

What to submit for a zoning construction permit

Download the Zoning Construction Permit Project Guide (#CP-01)

  1. Fill out and submit both parts of the application located in the guide (the general application and the construction application)
  2. Fill out and submit the Statement of Valuation located in the guide
  3. Use the guide to determine which plans are required for your project type, and what information must be included on the plans. A zoning plan set may have a site plan, floor plans, building elevations, and roof plan, but not every project will require all of these.  
  4. Attach a written project narrative to your application that includes the following: 
    • name of business,
    • scope of work,
    • hours of operation,
    • type of activities,
    • and how you plan to address any use limitations found in Article 11 of the Denver Zoning Code
    • There is no required length for the narrative, but you should provide as much detail as possible.

Customers submitting applications for both zoning use and zoning construction permits only need to submit one plan set.

View plan examples

Download sample plans: single tenantsmultiple tenantsadditions. (PDFs)

Download the Zoning Guide for Fences (PDF) for step-by-step instructions, a submittal checklist, and permit application form.

Other Zoning Permits

The commercial zoning team reviews floor plan modifications to update previously approved plans and clarify the zoning permit record. These are only done when no significant change has occurred to the originally permitted use.

Download the Floor Plan Modifications Guide (PDF) for a floor plan modifications request form, instructions, and a sample floor plan.

Start here

Visit our Signs webpage to learn what zoning standards apply to signs, and which sign types do not require a zoning permit.

To apply

Download the Complete Signs Customer Guide (PDF) for step-by-step instructions, application requirements, and permit application forms for signs requiring a permit. Please review the guide and checklist and include all required materials when submitting your permit application. Incomplete applications may delay processing and approval.

View the Telecommunications Facilities Zoning Guide (PDF) for an overview of the city's zoning and permitting rules for siting, installing and constructing telecommunications equipment. 

A zone lot is the land designated as the building site for a structure and/or the site for a land use or activity. The city uses the "zone lot" as the basic land unit for zoning review and permitting. 

Additional Resources

  • Landmark Preservation homepage -- If the zone lot contains a local landmark or is in a historic district, you will need approval from Landmark before applying for a zone lot amendment.
  • Demolition Permits online guide -- If the proposed zone lot amendment will leave behind an accessory structure (like a garage, shed, or fence) by itself or will divide an existing structure between two or more new zone lots, such structures must be demolished before the zone lot amendment application can be approved.

Zoning tip sheets:

Sample surveys/elevations:

More information is available on the zone lot amendments webpage.


Where to Submit

Log in or counter review? Most commercial zoning permit applications are logged in for a review, but some (like zoning permits for a temporary use) can be quickly reviewed and issued in person at the commercial zoning permit counter.

Email

Mail

In Person

To log in for a zoning-only review:

  • Email your complete application package and plan set with "New zoning application" in the subject line to zoning.review@denvergov.org.

To log in for a simultaneous building/zoning review:

Development Services/Zoning
Attn: New applications
201 West Colfax Ave.
Dept. 205
Denver, CO 80202

Zoning-only applications:
Commercial Zoning Counter

Simultaneous zoning and building permit applications:
Log-In Counter

Visit the Permit Counter Services page for hours and location.


After your application is received

Once your application has been received, you will be contacted via phone or email to acknowledge receipt of your application, to advise you of additional materials that might be required, and to arrange payment of fees. All fees must be paid before your project will be assigned a reviewer.

NEW! Zoning permit fees can be paid online by credit card. Download a brief tutorial (PPT) and then visit denvergov.org/epermits to pay fees.

Issued zoning permits will expire after 180 days, unless the permitted zoning use has been established or a building permit for construction has been issued. Any changes to the scope of what was approved will require a new zoning review and permit.

What if my project doesn't meet requirements?

Administrative adjustments and variances

Project plans must be submitted so that zoning staff may complete a full review of the entire project. For those projects where you know your project will violate zoning regulations, and you plan to request an administrative adjustment or zoning variance, you must still submit a complete application and plans for a full review first.

If after submitting your plans, you learn that your project does not meet zoning requirements, you may either revise the project to comply with the zoning code, request an administrative adjustment from staff (for a minor exception to the code), or request a zoning variance from the Board of Adjustment

An administrative adjustment or variance may be appropriate for the following:

  • When a permit is denied because a project does not meet zoning requirements due to an unusual hardship.

Appeals

If you believe that zoning review staff erred in interpreting or applying the zoning code’s standards, you may seek an appeal from the Board of Adjustment. Actions of the zoning administrator, zoning permitting staff, or zoning inspectors may be appealed to the Board.

An appeal may be appropriate for the following:

  • Zoning permits issued or denied based on an error in interpreting/applying the zoning code,
  • A zoning enforcement order to cease and desist,
  • Any other kind of zoning enforcement action, or
  • A formal written code or use determination (e.g., a determination to allow an unlisted temporary use or a home occupation).

How do I file for an administrative adjustment, zoning variance, or an appeal?

Apply for an administrative adjustment through your assigned project reviewer. Your reviewer will advise you on what to submit (typically a letter and narrative detailing the request, with additional evidence of the justifying hardship). An administrative review fee will apply. Most administrative adjustment decisions are made within two weeks.

For variances or appeals, once your project reviewer has made a decision to deny based on a zoning violation, inform the reviewer of your decision and obtain an “informal denial” form from the reviewer to submit to the Board of Adjustment. Appeals must be submitted within 15 days of the project reviewer’s decision. Variance requests may be submitted at any time.

If the appeal or variance request relates to the denial of a zoning permit for construction, you must also submit two copies of a scaled site plan, floor plan and elevation drawings to the Board.

Once a zoning decision is appealed, any action of the zoning administrator or staff directly related to the appeal is stayed until the Board hearing.

An incomplete submittal will not be accepted for filing for a hearing date.

 
 
 

If our commercial zoning webpage looks different, it is! We have new applications that better reflect the information needed for a zoning review and have created Project Guides and sample plans to help applicants prepare a complete zoning submittal.

Find out what else has changed.

Resources for Applicants

Before you start

Using the map and zoning code links below, verify that your proposed land use is allowed in your zone district, and know the vehicle and bicycle parking requirements and other use limitations.

Know what other approvals might be required for your project. View our starter list here (PDF).

Need help? Email us to schedule a pre-application meeting (optional).

Image of the zoning map that links to the zoning map online at (/content/denvergov/en/community-planning-and-development/zoning/find-your-zoning.html)

Click the image above to get to the Denver Zoning map to look up the zone district for your property.

Zoning Records Request

A zoning records request will provide you with a copy of the record for your site, including plans or permits on file. 

How: Instructions for requesting public records.

Zoning Research Request

We can also provide zoning research for any Denver property.

  • Zone district confirmation (no fee)
  • Zoning compliance information (fees apply)
  • Rebuild information/confirmation (fees apply)

How: Request zoning verification or zoning compliance letters.

Commercial Zoning Questions

Include your name, property address, phone number, and details of your question so we can make sure the right person returns your call/email. 

Phone: 720-865-3000

Commercial and multifamily email: zoning.review@denvergov.org

Single-family and duplex email: ResidentialPermits@denvergov.org

For rezoning inquiries visit CPD's rezoning page.

To change the boundaries of your zone lot, request a zone lot amendment.

Visit our Contact Us page for zoning office hours and location.