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What Are the Zoning Laws? I am in ninth grade and am doing a project in my careers class, and I need to know how to find out about zoning laws and permits needed to start an electronics store. Could you help me with this?

By Karen E. Spaeder

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The best place to start is with your own city, which can tellyou what kind of business licenses and permits you need for yourparticular type of business. Contact your city's businesslicense department to find out how to get a business license,which, for a fee, grants you the right to operate in that city.When you file your application for a license, the city'splanning or zoning department will check to make sure your area iszoned for your type of business and that there are enough parkingspaces to meet the codes. If you are opening your business in abuilding that previously housed an electronics store, you are notlikely to encounter too many problems.

You cannot operate your business in an area that is not properlyzoned for your type of business unless you first obtain a variance,or conditional-use permit. To get a variance, you will need topresent your case before the planning commission in your city. Inmany cases, variances are quite easy to get, as long as you canshow that your business will not disrupt the character of theneighborhood where you plan to locate.

Your city should also be able to help you determine what type ofcounty and/or state licenses and permits you need, if any. Andcheck with your local chamber of commerce--they often have helpfulchecklists and resources for new business owners that can help younavigate the maze of paperwork involved with starting a business.Finally, it's a good idea to visit your local Small BusinessDevelopment Center for additional help and resources.