Welcome to the Zoning Division of the Planning and Development Department.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Here are the links to the online forms for Zoning Permits

The zoning of a property is a designation that specifies how a piece of property can be used within a city. Zoning districts are created to attract certain types of development such as single-family homes, offices, neighborhood businesses, general industry and institutions, such as schools and hospitals. The City of Mount Holly zoning functions are divided into three distinct areas of responsibility:

Zoning Compliance Permits & Inspections

Conducts Zoning Inspections of Residential and Commercial Construction, issues Zoning Compliance Permits for new businesses, residential and commercial construction and signs, Provides zoning verification letters and enforces the City's Zoning Ordinance.

The City of Mount Holly issues a Zoning Compliance Permit, which serves as a prerequisite for obtaining a Building Permit through the Gaston County Building Inspection Department. For existing structures, both residential and commercial, where renovations to the interior or exterior are planned then an application must be filled out and submitted. For home renovations, the Residential Zoning Permit Application should be filled out completely, and for business renovations, the Commercial Zoning Permit Application should be filled out completely. These forms with additional documentation as needed based on the project should be submitted to Zoning staff at the Municipal Complex, located at 400 E. Central Avenue (2nd Floor). Once you receive a Zoning Permit based on the renovations, then you may contact Gaston County for obtaining a Building Permit.

All inquiries regarding what is needed to obtain a Building Permit, Electrical Permit and/or Mechanical Permit for new construction, remodeling/renovation projects, and Certificates of Occupancy (C.O.) from Gaston County should be directed to the Building Inspections Department at 128 W Main Ave., Gastonia, NC or by calling the following numbers: (704) 866-3960, (704) 866-3045 or (704) 866-3155.

The City does require businesses to be registered with the City before they may operate by a one-time application and fee. They City would issue a Zoning Permit for the business at a specific location instead of a Business License. If you are planning on opening a new business inside the City limits or Zoning Jurisdiction (ETJ) of Mount Holly, the Zoning Compliance and Business Registration Application must be completed and signed by the Fire Inspector, the FOG Program Coordinator and Cross Connection Coordinator with the Public Utilities Dept, prior to submitting the application to Zoning staff.

Applications can be submitted at the Municipal Complex, located at 400 E. Central Avenue (2nd Floor). For more information please visit the Business License & Permits page. Payments will be due at the time Zoning Permit is issued and ready to be picked up.

Additionally, Gaston County Environmental Health Specialists in the Food and Lodging program issue permits to and monitor area eating establishments, including restaurants, cafeterias and mobile food units. The program also permits and inspects hotels and other temporary lodging facilities, child care centers, nursing homes, tattoo artists, meat markets and public swimming pools. Staff also works with contractors and owners of restaurants that are under construction to ensure that floor plans, equipment, construction materials, lighting and plumbing all meet public health regulations. More information on the types of uses that require a permit from the Food and Lodging program can be found here.

New Residential and Commercial Projects

Coordinates site plan reviews of new residential and commercial construction with the City Site Inspector, Engineer, and Subdivision Administrator through a Technical Review Committee. Subdivision and land development is regulated by the Zoning Ordinance, Downtown Development Manual, Land Development Guidelines, and Subdivision Ordinance

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I locate an accessory structure/fence/pool/garage on my property?

These structures may generally be placed in the side and rear yard, provided they are far enough from the property lines. Accessory structures, such as storage buildings and detached garages, if located behind the rear corner of the home, must be at least five (5) feet from the property line.  If located in the side yard setback, as measured from the front corner to the rear corner of the home, the distance from the side property line is dependent on the zoning district, in which the property is located. 

Fences have height and design restrictions, subject to Section 3.10.1 and Section 5.21 in the Zoning Ordinance, but may be placed on the property line. Pools have requirements under Article VII, Note 7 in the Zoning Ordinance. Accessory structures are not allowed in the established front yard setback. All accessory structures, noted above, require a Zoning Compliance Permit and if applicable, a Building Permit from Gaston County Building Inspections before construction.

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How do I rezone my property?

Every zoning classification requires a minimum lot size. Each piece of property has a zoning classification with minimum development requirements listed in the City of Mount Holly Zoning Ordinance. Subdivision regulations, found in the City of Mount Holly Subdivision Ordinance, govern how a property can be subdivided. Therefore, you would need to contact the Planning & Development Department for more information on how to proceed with a rezoning request.

The rezoning application may be obtained from this web site by referencing the "Related Documents" section, located on the right side of the Zoning home page,  or by visiting the Zoning office on the 2nd Floor of the Municipal Complex, located at 400 E. Central Avenue, Mount Holly, NC. All applications must be returned to the Zoning office in person. The application must be completed and include the required fee before application will be accepted.

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Do I need a Zoning Permit?

A permit is needed for any type of construction such as a house, addition, accessory building, fence, etc. The permit will serve as a prerequisite to obtaining a building permit issued by Gaston County.

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How do I file for a variance, special-use permit application or an appeal from decision?

The Zoning Board of Adjustment hears variance requests to waive part or all of a Zoning Ordinance requirement.  Additionally, the Board also hears appeals from a Zoning or Minimum Housing case decision and special-use permit requests.  The Application for Review by the Board of Adjustment may be obtained from this web site by referencing the "Related Documents" section on the Zoning home page or by visiting the Zoning office on the 2nd Floor of the Municipal Complex, located at 400 E. Central Avenue, Mount Holly, NC.  All applications must be returned to the Zoning office in person. The application must be completed and include the required fee before application will be accepted.

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What constitutes a sign violation?

A detached sign may be in violation if the sign is too close to the road or otherwise located in the public right-of-way. A violation may also occur if the sign is too high, exceeds the amount of sign face area or there are too many signs on one property. A wall sign may be in violation if it exceeds the amount of signage allowed on a wall, projects too far from a wall or is located on the roof or above the roof line of a structure. Each sign must have a sign permit. For more information on sign permitting, approved signs and prohibited signs, the sign ordinance (Article 9 signs) can be found on the Ordinances page of this website in the "Related Documents" section.

Additional prohibited signs include:

  • Signs extending into the public right-of-way other than those approved by the City of Mount Holly Planning Department,
  • Roof signs,
  • Pole signs and Portable signs (Amortization period ends December 31, 2013),
  • Flashing signs or Scrolling Message Board signs, other than time and/or temperature signs,
  • Signs that are similar in color, design, and appearance to traffic control signs,
  • Off-premise signs, other than off-premise directory signs as defined in Section 3.26.2 of the Zoning Ordinance,
  • Dilapidated signs, Obsolete or Abandoned Signs
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What is watershed - impervious area?

The City of Mount Holly's city limits and ETJ are either within the Mountain Island Lake or Lake Wylie Watershed. Therefore, even though the City has a Stormwater Permit from the State, Watershed Regulations govern development, per Section 5.14 of the Zoning Ordinance.  Impervious areas or impervious ground cover is any structure or ground cover consisting of asphalt, concrete, gravel, brick, terrazzo, roofing, ceramic tile or any other natural or manmade material that prevents the absorption of surface water into the soil.

Land within the City of Mount Holly and ETJ is subject to impervious area limits, twenty-four percent (24%) maximum, under the Low Density Option, if an acre or more of land is disturbed. There are High Density Options, which require the installation of Best Management Practices (BMP's) in the Lake Wylie Watershed. Under the Lake Wylie Watershed High Density regulations, impervious area is limited to fifty percent (50%) in the WSIV Critical Area, and seventy percent (70%) in the WSIV Protected area. Watershed regulations play an important role in reviewing construction permitted on a lot.

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What is a floodplain?

The City of Mount Holly has participated in the National Flood Insurance Program since 1974. As part of the participation requirements, the City must adopt floodplain regulations and Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM's), as noted in Article XVI of the Zoning Ordinance. The most recognized floodplain is the 100-year floodplain, representing a flood event occurring every one hundred years or a flood event that has a 1% probability of occurring in any given year.

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Can I conduct a certain activity at a given location?

The zoning classification of a parcel of land will dictate what use can be made of that property. To ascertain the zoning classification for a particular parcel of property, contact Zoning at 704-827-3931.

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Can I operate a business out of my home?

Home Occupations are restricted to an office use only, with 25% maximum space allotted in the primary dwelling. Those that involve traffic to the home must receive approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Please see Article VII, Note 3, in the Zoning Ordinance for more information.

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What are my building setbacks and yard requirements?

A building setback is the required distance that a building (structure) must be located from all the property lines, in respect to adjacent property. Typically, setbacks and lot requirements are determined by your zoning district classification; therefore you would need to verify the zoning of your property.

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My property was not in a floodplain, but now it is?

Since 2001, the City of Mount Holly has gone through several revisions of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps, in coordination with the NC Department of Emergency Management, Floodplain Mapping Division, and FEMA. In several cases, homes that were once located out of the 100 year floodplain have had their areas reviewed and included in newer FIRM's adopted on either, September 28, 2007, or March 2, 2009.  A homeowner is typically notified by his or her mortgage lender that they need a flood insurance policy.  Please contact the Floodplain Administrator to discuss your options.

More information on environmental regulations and frequently asked questions can be found by visiting the Environmental section of the City of Mount Holly website.

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Can I propose an amendment or change to the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance or City Code?

An amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance and/or City Code, can be initiated by City staff at the direction of City Council.  If the text amendment involves the Zoning and/or Subdivision Ordinance, two public hearings must be held, the first before the Planning Commission for a recommendation on the matter, and the second before City Council for a decision on the proposed amendment.  This is usually done to address an issue occurring inside the City limits or ETJ, or to account for uses that may not have been included within previous Ordinances. However, an individual may also propose to amend the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance and/or City Code by submitting an Application for a Text Amendment.

It is important that the individual seeking such an amendment consult with Planning & Development staff to address the best course of action.  For example, a text amendment may be proposed to allow a use, such as a restaurant, in all Heavy Industrial Districts. A better option, due to incompatibility issues, may be to seek a rezoning of a particular property, which allows restaurants as a permitted use.

The Application for a Text Amendment may be obtained from this web site by referencing the ""Related Documents" section, located on the right side of the Zoning home page or by visiting the Zoning office on the 2nd Floor of the Municipal Complex, located at 400 E. Central Avenue, Mount Holly, NC. All applications must be returned to the Zoning Office in person. The application must be completed and include the required fee before application will be accepted."

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What type of business can I operate in the City of Mount Holly?

The type of business or "permitted use" varies depending upon the Zoning District, in which it is to be located. Please see Article VI in the Zoning Ordinance to found out what district the proposed business operation is permitted.

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How do I report a zoning violation?

Please contact the Zoning department (Brian DuPont at 704-951-3009 or Jonathan Wilson at 704-951-3014) and give the Zoning Official the address and a detailed description of the nature of the violation. Please include details such as names, dates, times, license plates and any information that can be given as evidence of the violation. The City does not endorse anyone going onto private property to obtain such information. Zoning violations are matters such as an illegal business conducting operations (i.e. business operating out of a home), construction without a permit or erecting an accessory structure closer than five (5) feet from a property line. For nuisance lots, trash and debris, high grass and junk vehicle complaints, please refer to the Code Enforcement page here.

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Does the City enforce high grass regulations?

Yes, the maximum height for grass is twelve (12) inches. Violators will be notified by the city. Property owners are expected to maintain their yards in manner that is not to encourage snakes, rats and other vermin to inhabit the area.

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Did a property owner get the required permits for construction, which is already underway?

Departmental records can easily be accessed by Zoning Officials to determine if a required permit for an activity underway has been obtained.

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Can the zoning of a certain parcel of property be changed?

The zoning classification for a parcel of property is set by the Mount Holly City Council for the jurisdiction, in which the property lies.  The City Council has the authority to rezone property.  There is a formal process which must be followed in doing so.  A property owner can initiate the rezoning process by contacting the Zoning Division of the Planning & Development Department.  Please see Applications (How to File) FAQ below.

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What regulations are enforced in the City’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction - ETJ?

Per State Statutes, the City can only enforce Development Regulations, such as Zoning and Subdivision Regulations. The City cannot enforce general police powers, such as regulations found in the City Code, including nuisance lots, high grass, junk cars and animal and livestock requirements.David Owens, Professor of Public Law at the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill, has written an excellent article on ETJ enforcement, which can be found by clicking here.

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How is zoning enforced?

Once the Zoning Office receives a complaint, a Zoning Official will investigate the alleged violation within 1-3 days. If a violation is detected, a Notice of Violation letter is sent via certified mail to the property owner and/or occupant. The violation letter gives a specified time to correct the violation. Currently, zoning violations are to be corrected within thirty (30) days, unless otherwise specified, before further legal action is taken by the City. Please refer to the Code Enforcement page for more information on the City of Mount Holly's Nuisance Abatement procedures, such as the removal of trash and debris from property and the mowing of high grass.

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What is a buffer?

A buffer is a strip of land with existing or planted vegetation used to protect a less-intense land use. Example: trees and shrubs planted in a buffer on an industrial property to protect a residential property. In certain cases, a fence may be used as a required screening device, per Article X in the Zoning Ordinance.

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Can I build a home or other structure in a floodplain?

Prior to any man made activity in the 100 year floodplain, the owner must obtain a Floodplain Development Permit (FDP). Floodplain Development Permits are issued for new construction of homes, accessory buildings and fences, and the placement of fill dirt. Once the Floodplain Administrator receives the FDP application, he will review the permit and note the requirements for approval. For structures, habitable floors must be located at least two (2) feet above Base Flood Elevation (BFE), and a preconstruction and post construction elevation certificate is required. There will be additional construction requirements, such as the installation of flood vents, and the required location of hot water heaters. It is important that you contact the Gaston County Building Inspection Department for additional Building Permit requirements.

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Create a Support Ticket

Brandon Livingston

Zoning & Code Enforcement Officer
Phone (704) 951-3017
Email Brandon Livingston

Greg Beal

Economic Development Coordinator
Phone (704) 951-3012
Fax (704) 827-5672
Email Greg Beal

400 East Central Avenue (2nd Floor)
PO Box 406
Mount Holly, NC 28120
Phone: (704) 827-3931
Fax: (704) 827-5672
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