The Charleston County Zoning and Planning Department responds to community concerns regarding zoning and litter, investigates zoning and litter violations, and ensures community compliance with the following County ordinances: Charleston County Zoning and Land Development Regulations Ordinance (ZLDR), Regulation of Weeds, Rank Vegetation, and Solid Waste, and the Litter Control Ordinance. These ordinances are intended to protect the health, safety and general welfare of existing and future residents of Charleston County. It is our responsibility to enforce these ordinances to ensure the best quality of life for our residents and the environment in which our residents live.
Staff investigates concerns involving public and private properties in the unincorporated areas of Charleston County. The regulations enforced by this department do not supersede the regulations of any municipality within the County.
Staff investigates concerns related to violations of the following three County ordinances: Charleston County Zoning and Land Development Regulations Ordinance (ZLDR), Regulation of Weeds, Rank Vegetation, and Solid Waste, and the Litter Control Ordinance. The most common violations are listed below.
*IMPORTANT: Please note that these are summaries and are to be used only as references. To read through the ordinance sections in their entirety, please refer to the applicable ordinance.
Accessory structures are allowed without a principal structure in Agricultural zoning districts. In all other zoning districts, a principal structure must be present before an accessory structure can be added to the property.
No zoning permit is required for a one-story accessory structure with a building footprint of 120 square feet or less. A zoning permit is required for any accessory structure greater than 120 square feet and/or for the placement or construction of more than one accessory structure.
In residential zoning districts and the Residential Office (OR) Zoning District, all accessory structures except garages and carports must be on the rear of the lot behind the main home or office.
See "Accessory Structure" above.
A zoning permit is required prior to converting an accessory structure into an accessory dwelling unit. Only one accessory dwelling unit is allowed per lot.
The heated gross floor area of an accessory dwelling unit cannot exceed 800 square feet in Residential zoning districts or 1,500 square feet in Agricultural zoning districts.
The lot must have a minimum area at least 50% larger than the minimum area required for a principal residential structure. For example, if the minimum required area for your zoning district is 1 acre (~43,560sf) then 50% larger = 1.5 acres (~65,340sf). 1.5 acres (~65,340sf) would be required to have a principal residential structure and an accessory dwelling unit.
The County is authorized to assign or change addresses for the purposes of public safety and emergency response. Upon notification of a new address or an address change, it is the duty of the owner, occupant or agent of each house, building or other structure to post the address on the structure within twenty-one (21) days. Residential numbers must be at least three inches in height. Business numbers must be at least four inches in height. All numbers must be clearly visible above, on or at the side of the appropriate door so that the number is clearly visible from the street. In cases where the building is situated more than 50 feet from the street or road, the building number also must be placed near the driveway, common entrance to the building, upon the mailbox, gatepost, fence or other appropriate place so as to clearly be visible from the street or road.
Failure to comply with addressing requirements may result in a maximum fine of $200 and/or a maximum of 30 days in jail.
ZLDR (§3.8.1 D)
A zoning permit is required prior to every change in use. For example, Business A, a law office, is no longer in operation at 123 Line Drive. Before Business B, an accounting firm, begins operation at 123 Line Drive, a zoning permit must be obtained for Business B. A zoning permit is only valid for one location at a time and cannot be transferred without zoning approval. Simple rule of thumb: a zoning permit is required prior to obtaining a business license.
ZLDR (§3.8.1 A)
A zoning permit is required prior to any construction that requires a building permit.
ZLDR (§3.8.2 C)
A permit is required for the installation of any fence that is taller than six feet or is made of brick, stone, or concrete, regardless of height. A fence cannot block the view of a vehicular access to a roadway from a residential driveway.
Home occupations are types of work that can be conducted at home with virtually no effect on the surrounding neighborhood. Additionally, home occupations must comply with a set of standards, some of which are: the operator of the home occupation must be a full-time resident in the home; hours of operation between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; one customer per hour (on average); one commercial vehicle is allowed; no exterior commercial modifications are allowed; and no signs shall be posted for the business; A zoning permit is required for a home occupation. See §6.5.11 of the Zoning and Land Development Regulations Ordinance for more on conditional home occupations such as car repair/rental/sales, bed and breakfast establishments, animal care/boarding and medical offices/clinics.
Undeveloped property is allowed to remain in its natural condition. Once a residential or commercial property is developed (i.e., no longer in its natural condition), the owner or occupant must maintain the property and not allow it to become overgrown (e.g., high grass, vines, excessive weeds, etc.).
No property, developed or undeveloped, may be used for the storage of solid waste (e.g. garbage, junk, refuse, demolition materials, etc.). The owner or occupant of the property is required to maintain the property, keep the grass cut and rid the property of solid waste as often as necessary.
A zoning permit is required for any activity that disturbs the earth including (but not limited to): clearing/grubbing, grading, filling, surfacing, drainage, road construction, driveway construction and resource extraction (mining or excavation for ponds).
No person shall dump, throw, drop, deposit, discard or otherwise dispose of litter or other solid waste upon any public or private property in the Charleston County. The person responsible for littering is responsible for the removal of that litter. However, if the person responsible for littering is unknown or if there is no charge or conviction of a person for the litter violation, then the owner of the property is responsible for the removal of the litter. If litter travels by forces of nature (wind, water, etc.) onto another property, the owner of the property of origin of the litter is responsible for the removal of litter from the property.
See the link for Environmental Codes Brochure under "Illegal Dumping/Solid Waste"Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â above.
Manufactured homes are allowed in all residential and agricultural zoning districts. However, in the Single Family Residential 4 (R-4), Mixed Style Residential 8 (M-8) and Mixed Style Residential 12 (M-12) zoning districts, the permitting of manufactured homes is based on the percentage of manufactured homes in the vicinity. If the number of manufactured homes in a specific area (a 300-foot radius of the property in which someone wants to place a manufactured home) is less than 25% of the existing homes in that specific area, then the placement of a new manufactured home requires a Public Hearing and approval by the Charleston County Board of Zoning Appeals before a zoning permit or building permit can be issued.
The applicant (an individual or company) for manufactured home zoning permits must be a state licensed manufactured home installer or transporter. The following documentation is required in order to obtain a manufactured home zoning permit: site plan (drawn to engineer's scale), approved and recorded plat, proof of public water service availability or S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control well approval, and proof of public sewer service availability or S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control septic system approval.
A nonconforming use, structure, sign or lot refers to a use, structure, sign or lot that is no longer in compliance with the current regulations, however, it was legally established under previous regulations. The burden of proof for a nonconformity claim is upon the owner of the nonconformity.
Major recreation equipment such as recreational vehicles (RVs) cannot be used for living, sleeping or housekeeping on residential properties or outside of legally established RV parks or campgrounds.
A zoning permit is required for all signs except real estate signs less than 12 square feet and election signs.
Prohibited signs include: flashing signs; signs imitating traffic devices (signals); signs imitating traffic signs; signs in marshes; signs in rights-of-way; snipe signs; vehicle signs; roof signs; and off-premises signs (except billboards, shared signs and bona fide agricultural use signs).
Permanent Storage Units (e.g., shipping containers) can be used as an accessory structure, after obtaining a zoning permit, but only in the following zoning districts: RM, AG-15, AG-10, AG-8, AGR, Community Commercial (CC), and Industrial (I).
Temporary Portable Storage Units
A temporary zoning permit is required for the storage of temporary portable storage units (e.g. PODS) on a property for longer than fifteen (15) consecutive days. A temporary zoning permit allows the unit to be stored on the property for a maximum of sixty (60) days per calendar year. The unit is limited to a maximum of 160 square feet. Temporary portable storage units shall not be used for the storage of hazardous or flammable substances, live animals or humans.
A zoning permit is not required for a temporary portable storage unit used in conjunction with active construction and active building permits.
Also, see "Accessory Structure" section above
In residential zoning districts, any tree less than 24 inches diameter breast height (DBH) may be removed without a zoning permit. Any grand tree (a tree measuring 24 inches or greater DBH, excluding pine trees) must be inspected and a zoning permit is required before it can be cut down or otherwise removed.
In commercial zoning districts, do not remove any trees on the site until zoning approval is granted.
Individual pine trees are exempt from Charleston County tree regulations and may be removed without zoning permits. However, in cases of the removal of multiple pine trees on a single lot, please contact County staff prior to beginning that activity.
Repair of Vehicles in Residential Areas
See "Storage of Inoperable Vehicles" below. Additionally, in all Suburban Residential zoning districts, storage of motor vehicle parts is allowed only within a completely enclosed accessory structure on the same lot as the main home.
Storage of Inoperable Vehicles
In all zoning districts, the open storage/repair of inoperable motor vehicles is not allowed in the front yard.
In Agricultural zoning districts and the Rural Residential (RR-3) Zoning District, inoperable vehicles must be completely screened from the view off-property. There is not a limitation on the number of inoperable vehicles allowed in Agricultural zoning districts and the Rural Residential (RR-3) Zoning District. In the Suburban Residential, Office, Commercial and Industrial zoning districts, more than two inoperable motor vehicles per lot is not allowed (except at an authorized salvage yard).
A resident may have one commercial vehicle in Residential zoning districts only if the commercial vehicle is also used as personal transportation.
No more than two operable or inoperable vehicles may be offered for sale on a residential lot, and the vehicle(s) must be owned by the owner of the property.
It is important to include the following in your complaint:
You have the option to submit an anonymous complaint, however, if you do not provide sufficient information, then we may not be able to respond effectively to your request or the investigation may be significantly delayed. Additionally, if you are aware that more than one person is concerned about a specific issue, we would respectfully request a joint complaint from those persons instead of several individual complaints about the same issue.
Complaints can be delivered to the Zoning & Planning Department in the following ways:
Litter/Solid Waste: (843)202-7200
Please remember that the identity of anyone who submits a complaint is confidential. Your personal information or other information that may reveal your identity will not be released by this Department.
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