Zoning

City offices are now open to the public. Zoning staff is available for walk-in customers between the hours of 8:00am and 4:00pm Monday through Friday.

Electronic/digital submission of applications and other materials is encouraged whenever feasible. Consult the Staff Directory or the specific subject page for staff contact information.

Mailed items can be sent to:

CITY OF PORTSMOUTH
PLANNING DEPARTMENT ATTN: (STAFF MEMBER NAME)
801 CRAWFORD STREET
PORTSMOUTH, VA 23704

Credit card payments can now be accepted over the phone. Please call the Planning Department at 757-393-8836 for more information. Please note that a signed credit card authorization form is required to be submitted before a credit card payment can be processed. 

  1. Planning Department

    Physical Address
    801 Crawford Street
    4th floor
    Portsmouth, VA 23704

    Phone: 757-393-8836
    Fax: 757-393-5223


Regulations

Chapter 40.2 of the Portsmouth City Code is the Zoning Ordinance. It is a set of regulations devoted to Land Use that defines:

  • How far buildings must be from the property lines
  • How far buildings on the same lot must be from each other
  • How many parking spaces are needed for a particular use type
  • Size and configuration parking spaces and lots 
  • Building heights
  • Sign regulations
  • Site plan review requirements
  • Use permit regulations
  • Other similar requirements

Zoning Permit

Most forms of development require the review and approval of a zoning permit prior to the issuance of a building permit, business license, or certificate of occupancy.

We can help you with ….

  • Determining permitted uses
  • Construction project requirements - including setbacks
  • Minimum lot size requirements
  • Fence Permits
  • Sign Permits
  • Business License Clearances

When staff is reviewing your project, other reviews might be triggered including Flood Zones, Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas, Historic Districts, and subdivision regulations.

In addition, other permits and clearances may be needed from other departments such at Permits and Inspections, Engineering, and the Commissioner of the Revenue. Contact those departments directly to discuss their requirements for your project.

Additional details regarding the Zoning Permit process can be found on this page. Zoning Permits

Zoning Ordinance Update

At the request of City Council, the City’s Zoning Ordinance was updated and subsequently adopted on December 8, 2020. The comprehensively rewritten Zoning Ordinance was designed to improve clarity and ease of use, streamline development regulations, ease nonconforming situations, protect existing neighborhood character, ensure compatibility with the Code of Virginia, and increase consistency with the City’s Build One Portsmouth Comprehensive Plan. 

Linked below is the newly adopted Portsmouth Zoning Ordinance. The new ordinance becomes effective on February 1, 2021.

Updated Zoning Ordinance Final Version

The Zoning Ordinance can also be accessed online via Municode.

More information on the newly adopted Zoning Ordinance can be found on this page. Zoning Ordinance

"CAN DO" Help Video 

Need a Zoning Clearance? Interested in development or obtaining a business license in the City of Portsmouth? Check out our informational video!

Zoning Applications

Zoning Permits - Additional details regarding the Zoning Permit process can be found on this page. Zoning Permits

Zoning Verification Requests - Additional details regarding Zoning Verifications can be found on this page. Zoning Verification Requests

Business License Clearances - Applicants for Business License Zoning Clearances should follow the process outlined on this page. Zoning Business License Clearance 

Zoning Sign Permits - Applicants for Zoning Sign Permits should follow the process outlined on this page. Zoning Sign Permits

Other Planning and Zoning Forms can be found here

Enforcement

Section 15 of the Code of Virginia provides for these regulations to be adopted and enforced. 

Enforcement of violations is handled by staff of the Department of Permits and Inspections.