NEW BUSINESS CHECKLIST
The following information may serve as a quick reference guide to those that would like to open a business in Fort Mill. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive, but may serve as a guideline to assist business owners.
STEP 1: ZONING COMPLIANCE. Before signing a lease or purchase agreement, the business owner should verify the Town of Fort Mill’s zoning requirements for the proposed location. Prior to occupying any building (new or existing), the business owner must complete and submit a Commercial Zoning Compliance Form to ensure the business is properly zoned and permitted to operate at the proposed location. If the applicant will be making structural changes to an existing building (additions, modifications, etc.), these changes should also be included on the application form. If the applicant will be constructing a new building, the Commercial Zoning Compliance process will also cover zoning review of the new structure and accompanying site plan. Once the Zoning Compliance Form has been reviewed, town staff will contact the applicant with a notice of approval or denial. Appeals may be submitted to the Fort Mill Board of Zoning Appeals. There is a one-time fee for planning and zoning review, which may be paid at the time the permit is issued. For more information please contact the Town of Fort Mill Planning and Zoning Department at (803) 547-2116.
STEP 2: COURTESY SAFETY INSPECTION (OPTIONAL). The Town of Fort Mill’s Building Department will offer a free safety inspection to any prospective business owner that intends to occupy an existing building within the town limits. The safety inspection will identify any visible code violations, fire safety issues, and possible life safety concerns. Town building staff will also provide guidance to the prospective business owner regarding recommended repairs, improvements and/or modifications to improve safety and streamline the permitting process. Please note that this courtesy inspection is not intended to serve as a replacement for a comprehensive building inspection performed by a certified professional. To schedule a free safety inspection, please contact Town of Fort Mill Building and Codes Department at (803) 547-2034.
STEP 3: BUILDING PERMIT. All new construction, additions, demolition, and/or modifications to existing buildings and building systems will require a building permit from the Town of Fort Mill. Business owners should contact the Town of Fort Mill’s Building and Codes Department to determine if a permit is required prior to commencing any work. Building permit applications must be submitted in person at Fort Mill Town Hall, 112 Confederate Street. Only the building owner or licensed contractor (if using a contractor) may obtain a building permit. The building permit fees are based on the value of the work to be performed. All new permits will also be subject to a plan review fee, which shall be equal to fifty percent (50%) of the building permit fee. Fees may be paid at the time a permit is issued. Once the building permit application has been reviewed, a member of the Building and Codes Department staff will contact the applicant with a notice of approval or denial. Appeals may be submitted to the Building Code Board of Appeals. Please note that the penalty for working without a permit is $500.00. Fees for post facto permits may also be doubled, so always verify if a permit is required BEFORE beginning any work! A business may not occupy a structure until all work is inspected and a certificate of occupancy has been issued. For more information please contact the Town of Fort Mill Building and Codes Department at (803) 547-2034.
STEP 3A: CHANGE OF OCCUPANCY. When a new business is established and there is no change in the building’s occupancy classification, any non-conformities with existing building codes (with the exception of life safety issues) at the time the new business is established shall be grandfathered from the current building codes. However, when a new business is established which results in a change in a building’s occupancy classification (i.e. from “Business” to “Assembly,” from “Residential” to “Business,” from “Mercantile” to “Business,” etc.), then the building must be brought into compliance with current building codes before the new business may be established.
STEP 3B: HISTORIC REVIEW. The Town of Fort Mill’s Zoning Ordinance requires that any construction, demolition, or modification to structures located within the town’s Historic Overlay District shall first be reviewed and approved by the Historic Review Board for historic appropriateness. (Note: This requirement shall only apply to exterior modifications, which shall include exterior components such as paint color, windows, doors, trim, signs, etc.) In instances when a building permit is required, the permit may not be issued until the Historic Review Board has approved the work and granted a Certificate of Appropriateness. The application fee for a Certificate of Appropriateness is $100.00, which may be paid at the time an application is submitted. For questions about the historic review process, or to verify whether your proposed location is within the town’s Historic Overlay District, please contact the Town of Fort Mill Planning and Zoning Department at (803) 547-2116.
STEP 4: SIGN PERMIT. Any business owner who intends to place one or more signs at his/her place of business must first obtain a sign permit from the Town of Fort Mill. A Request for Sign Permit application shall be submitted to: Town of Fort Mill P.O. Box 159, Fort Mill, SC 29716. To expedite the process, please include the following with your application: dimensions of all proposed sign(s), dimensions of the building frontage to which the sign(s) will be attached (if signs will be affixed to a building), and color images or drawings of the proposed sign(s). All sign applications will be reviewed for compliance with the town’s sign ordinance and appropriate building codes. There is a fixed fee in the amount of $30.00 for zoning review, while the permit itself will be based on the value of the sign. Fees may be paid at the time the permit is issued. Please note that the town’s zoning ordinance does not permit off-premises signs. Any signs which will be located within the Historic Overlay District must also be reviewed by the Historic Review Board before a sign permit may be issued (see Step 3B). Once the Request for Sign Permit has been reviewed, town staff will contact the applicant with a notice of approval or denial. Appeals may be submitted to the Fort Mill Board of Zoning Appeals. For more information about sign requirements and permits, please contact Town of Fort Mill Planning and Zoning Department at (803) 547-2116.
STEP 5: BUSINESS LICENSE. Prior to opening a business inside the town limits, the business owner or manager must obtain a business license from the Town of Fort Mill. Business licenses will only be issued after the Planning Director has issued a Commercial Zoning Compliance Permit. Business license applications may be dropped off at Town Hall or submitted by mail to: Town of Fort Mill, P.O. Box 159, Fort Mill, SC 29716. The Licensing and Permitting Specialist will calculate the license fee based upon the business’s NAICS classification and anticipated gross revenues during the first year of operation. The applicant will then be contacted with the total amount to be paid. Once issued, a business license shall be valid only during the calendar year in which it is obtained. The town will mail a renewal notice at the beginning of each subsequent year, and licenses must be renewed on an annual basis. For more information, please contact Town of Fort Mill Building and Codes Department at (803) 547-2034.