To legally inhabit and utilize any property, a Use and Occupancy Permit must be obtained. Every Use and Occupancy Permit is issued to a specific person or corporate entity for a specific allowable use at a specified location. Failure to obtain a use and occupancy permit can result in the issuance of a Municipal Infraction. Likewise, expanding or altering an existing use without obtaining a revised use and occupancy permit can result in a municipal infraction. In general, a Use and Occupancy Permit is required under any of the following circumstances:
- New commercial or residential construction from the ground up.
- Improvement and/or renovations to an existing tenant space.
- Change of ownership or tenant.
- Major damage renovation (i.e. fire, water, storm, etc.)
- Expansion of a tenant space.
- Christmas kiosks or tree stands.
- Seasonal outdoor vendors.
- Temporary outdoor promotions (i.e. tent sales, etc.)
- New home occupancies.
- Replacement of a revoked permit
- Change from an apartment to a condominium
If the applicant is not the owner of the real property (i.e. leasee/tenant) a permission letter from the property owner granting permission to the applicant to use the property is required. Please see the example permission letter Please note that a copy of the lease is not acceptable.
In addition, health institutions, restaurants, day cares, schools, and hospitals require an inspection from Prince George's County Health Department and State Fire Marshal's Office prior to issuance of a city permit. For commercial space, a floor plan should be supplied showing location of fixtures, display case locations, etc. All properties will be inspected for Code compliance by a City of Laurel Building Inspector prior to the issuance of a Use and Occupancy Permit.
Each zoning district has a listing of allowable uses, which are classified as main (or “by-right”) uses and special exception uses. By-right uses can be established simply by obtaining a use and occupancy permit. Special exception uses must be approved by the Planning Commission and the Board of Appeals before a use and occupancy permit can be issued. All properties must provide the minimum amount of onsite parking (i.e. not public parking) as required by Art. I, Div. 6, Sec. 20-16: PARKING AND LOADING FACILITIES of the Unified Land Development Code.
The fee for residential use and occupancy permits is $150; for commercial uses the fee is $250. Use and Occupancy Permits do not allow for signage. A separate sign permit must be obtained to post a sign.
HOME OCCUPATIONS AND HOME PROFESSIONAL OFFICES
Home Occupations and Home Professional Offices are legally defined in Sec. 20-1.7 and Sec. 20-6.14 of the City of Laurel Unified Land Development Code. Generally speaking, home occupations and home professional offices are a work activity conducted entirely within a single-dwelling residence and which does not alter the residential character of the building and property. Acceptable work activities include the professional offices of doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects or consultants, home crafts such as baking, dressmaking or decorating, services such as repairing furniture or electronics, and home offices for contracting or telephone sales. All home occupations and professional offices must meet the following criteria:
- No more than 20% of the residence’s floor area is used for the occupation;
- Saleable goods and stock cannot be stored on the premises;
- No employees, workers or assistants who are not residents can be employed on the premises;
- Commercial or industrial equipment cannot be located on premises;
- Sale of goods from the site is prohibited;
- The home occupational space may not have a separate entrance; except for offices of doctors, dentists and other similar professionals.
Residences with legal home occupations may have one commercial sign indicating that the residences is being used in part for a use other than a dwelling. Such commercial signs must be affixed to the building, not exceed a total area of two (2) square feet, nor project more than one (1) foot beyond the building, and not be illuminated.
Home occupations may only have one (1) light delivery type commercial vehicle located on the premises. Such vehicles may not exceed one (1) ton in capacity and cannot contain advertising other than the home occupation’s name in letters not exceeding four inches in height on any part of the vehicle. Any other type of commercial vehicle or one containing advertising exceeding the previously noted limits must be garage parked or stored off-site. Any other mobile equipment is prohibited from being located on the premises.
The Zoning Ordinance expressly states that the following activities and uses are NOT home occupations:
x Boarding and rooming houses
x Child care residences
x Retail or trade businesses
x Tourist homes
x Nursing homes
x Beauty parlors
x Private educational institutions
x Group dancing & music instruction
x Tea rooms
A Home Occupancy/Home Professional Office Affidavit must be submitted with any Use and Occupancy Permit Application for any Home Occupation or Home Professional Office. All permits are issued to a specific person or business for a specific address. A Use and Occupancy Permit for a Home Occupation or a Home Professional Office can only be issued to the resident(s) who physically reside at the address for which the permit is issued. If the resident/applicant is not the owner of the home/residence where the Home Occupation or Professional Office will operate, a letter from the property owner acknowledging the Home Occupation or Home Professional Office and granting the resident permission to operate the Occupation or Office must be submitted with the Home Occupancy/Home Professional Affidavit. The fee for a Home Occupation or Home Professional Office Permit is $250.
FAMILY DAY CARES
The zoning ordinance allows for a residence to serve as a family day care for up to eight (8) unrelated minors, provided that the care providers are the owners and/or full-time residents of the residence hosting the family day care and have met any and all federal, state, and local licensing requirements; in particular, subtitle 5 of the Family Law article of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Any residence providing care to more than eight (8) unrelated minors must obtain a special exception from the Planning Commission and Board of Appeals.
To obtain a use and occupancy permit to establish a family day care, must submit an application to the Department of Community Planning and Business Services. If the applicant is not the owner of the property hosting the family day care, written permission from the property owner must be included with the application. The fee for a family day care permit is $250.
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