The scope and complexity of a commercial project determines the regulatory process and specific permitting required through the City. Prior to starting a new commercial project in The City of Frederick, we encourage you to contact the Department of Economic Development at 301-600-6361. Our office can help coordinate City staff and resources to make the process as smooth as possible. 

The City of Frederick is pleased to now offer online permitting. If you have any issues while applying for a permit online, please contact 301-600-3808. 

Online permitting can be accessed here.


Zoning Permit

The Zoning Permit is the first step in receiving a Certificate of Occupancy for applicants that are not doing construction work at their new space. The permit confirms that a property can be used for a proposed business and that it complies with all applicable zoning (and other department) regulations.

The application process typically takes approximately 4 business weeks, pending additional information required of the applicant during review. Following the receipt of the Zoning Permit, inspections by the Building Inspector and Fire Protection Engineer are required to address Life Safety issues. 

NOTE: For new businesses doing construction work, that permitting process includes zoning considerations -- thereby eliminating the need to apply for a separate Zoning Permit. Tenant fit-out that includes demolition, construction (such as removal/addition of walls), plumbing, electrical, fire protection or structural work will require the permitting described below. 

Construction Work

All plumbing, gas, and electrical work must be permitted and completed by a professional licensed with The City of Frederick. A current Permit Fee Schedule can be found on the Building Department page of the City website. Inspections are required throughout the construction process.

Work in the Historic District: The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) must approve all exterior work (including signage) in the Frederick Town Historic District except ordinary repair or minor rehabilitation. Full guidelines can be found online on the City’s Historic Preservation page. Questions? Contact the City’s  Historic Preservation Planners at 301-600-1499

Water and Sewer

Water & Sewer Allocation and Impact Fees relate to all development projects requesting new and/or additional public water and sewer from the City. All projects will have consumption amounts reviewed at year one and year two respectively. If the usage has increased beyond the base amount or allocation granted, an additional allocation will need to be procured and the associated impact fees be paid. Learn more about the Water & Sewer Allocation and Impact Fees by contacting the Engineering Department 301-600-1498.

The Industrial Pretreatment Ordinance regulates commercial users of the City’s wastewater treatment works. The City issues Fats/Oil/Grease (FOG) Control permits and monitors/inspects industrial users’ facilities accordingly. Learn more about the Industrial Pretreatment Ordinance by contacting the Department of Public Works 301-600-2979.


The City regulates commercial signage, including the size of signs, location, type, and number permitted per lot. Comprehensive sign regulations can be found in Article 8, Section 864 of the Land Management Code. Sign contractors will often handle permitting.

In the Historic District: For those businesses located in the Historic District, additional design guidelines for signage apply. Historic Preservation Committee approval is a separate process from the sign permit and is required BEFORE submitting the sign permit.

Sandwich Boards: Businesses in the Downtown Commercial/Residential (DB) zoning district are allowed one sandwich board sign, placed in front of the business. These signs must be removed at the end of each day. There are regulations regarding the size and placement, but no permits are required. In Downtown Frederick, HPC approval is not required for sandwich boards.

Food Service Permits

Sidewalk Cafés: The City grants permission for the use of public sidewalk space for outdoor dining opportunities through the Sidewalk Café permit. There are regulations for both enclosed and open outdoor seating areas in the City’s Code. An enclosed seating area requires a permit. Outdoor service of alcohol also requires Frederick County Liquor Board approval.

Food Trucks: Mobile vendors (including Food Trucks) can be permitted as vendor/peddlers to operate in the City in designated areas. Contact the Department of Economic Development to request a map of these areas. Small scale craft distilleries/breweries/ wineries may also apply, through the Primary Site User Permit, for the ability to invite Food Trucks to operate on their private premises.

Entertainment: Restaurants and small-scale craft distilleries/breweries/wineries may offer accessory indoor entertainment without a permit 9am – 9pm (Sunday – Thursday) and 9am – 10pm (Friday and Saturday). Except in the DB, MU, and GC zoning districts, these establishments must be more than 500 feet from the property line of the nearest lot uses for residential purposes. The primary functions of the eating and drinking establishment must continue to occur while entertainment is being provided and the presence of entertainment may not generate any additional impacts beyond that of the principal use. Establishments that do not meet the parameters of Section 810 of the Land Management Code or that wish to exceed the parameters of the ordinance must seek conditional use approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Entertainment proposed as part of a special event that is not occurring on a regular basis may be approved through a temporary zoning permit in accordance with Section 867 of the Land Management Code (LMC). Life Safety improvements such as, additional exits, fire sprinklers and suppression may be required prior to offering entertainment. Consult with your design professional for cost of potential improvements.

 Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy 

A Certificate of Occupancy is required prior to the occupation of any structure. The Certificate of Occupancy will be issued following the successful completion of all necessary inspections required by your specific permitting process. The City’s Building Department is available to answer permit-related questions at 301-600-3808.