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Zoning provides the standards and regulations that apply to land and structures in the Town of Summerville. These standards and regulations help implement the Town's Comprehensive Plan that contains goals, policies and recommendations of how development in the Town is to be achieved.
The Town has numerous zoning districts. Each one has a list of permitted uses and standards for building setbacks, densities, and heights. Additionally, some areas may have overlay districts that stipulate additional design guidelines, such as in the Downtown Historic District.
Each county and municipality has different rules for developing property, establishing a business license, etc. Therefore, it is very important to determine which jurisdiction your property is located in. The Town of Summerville’s regulations apply only to those properties located within the Town of Summerville’s limits. The Town has an Online Property Lookup Tool available here which allows users to search for a property by TMS, owner or address and find information on zoning, ownership, town council, and more. You can also contact the Planning Department to confirm whether your property is located within the Town of Summerville.
You can find the zoning of your property on the Town’s Zoning Map (click here for the Interactive Property Lookup Tool) and referencing the Town’s Unified Development Ordinance or by contacting or visiting the Planning Department and requesting that information. Our staff can look up the zoning for your property with your address or tax map number.
Prior to filling out and submitting an online application through our Citizenserve portal, it is required that you consult with Planning Department staff and schedule a pre-application meeting.
Regulations for property development within the Town of Summerville is governed by the Town’s Unified Development Ordinance, as well as regulations by other governmental agencies such as FEMA and the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The Planning Department is available to assist you. Contact our staff to speak with a planner about your specific project.
Whether or not a property is eligible for subdivision requires the analysis of several factors, including the zoning district, road frontage and access, total acreage, as well as a number of other items. Most plat and subdivision plan review is handled by the Town’s Engineering department, in coordination with the Planning Department. Contact our staff to speak with someone about your specific project.
Building setback is the minimum distance that a building can be from your property line. Building setbacks can vary by zoning district, building type (primary vs. accessory), and the nature of the adjacent property. Please contact the Planning Department to confirm your setbacks.
Addresses are assigned by the Planning Department for each building on a property that is habitable (residential or commercial). These addresses are coordinated with the County and entered into the E911 system for emergency services delivery. Only the Town can assign or change addresses within its boundaries. Please contact us or submit an Address Assignment Application through the Planning, Zoning, and Engineering section of the Citizenserve portal to obtain or change an address.
The Town of Summerville’s Tree Protection Ordinance provides for additional review and approval for removing trees of certain sizes. For more information and to obtain an application for removal of individual trees visit our Tree Ordinance and Tree Removal Permits page.
The Planning Commission, as provided for by South Carolina law, is a seven member citizen appointed Commission in place for purposes of reviewing rezoning requests, zoning ordinance amendments, the Comprehensive Plan, the Capital Improvements Plan, and other items directed by Town Council for recommendation for approval or denial. Agenda items are initiated by staff, Town Council, and requests from property owners, and coordinated by the Planning Department. Recommendations by the Planning Commission are considered by Town Council for final approval or denial.
The purpose of the Design Review Board is to ensure the development of commercial corridors within the Town of Summerville that contribute to a sense of place and pride and further strengthen the integrity of Summerville’s historic and best characteristics. New mixed-use development, commercial, and industrial development of all types, multi-family development (excluding townhomes if less than 5 units), and major exterior modifications, are required to go before the Board for review of visual and aesthetic character and site layout.
The Board is granted the authority to determine the appropriateness of the construction of the commercial site in pursuit of achieving that style which is characteristic of the region, and of Summerville in particular. The Board also reviews master sign plans and changeable copy signs for commercial establishments for approval (new and alterations to existing). The process aims to respect the character, integrity, and quality of the built environment of the town, without stifling innovative architecture and/or development.
Please see the Town’s UDO, Section 13.3.5 and 13.8 to determine applicability. Contact Town staff to discuss your particular project and schedule a pre-application conference with the Technical Review Committee (TRC) if required.
The Historic District/Board of Architectural Review Board is comprised of seven citizens knowledgeable of historic buildings and architecture. The Board reviews all new construction, major exterior modifications, and/or demolition of buildings within the Town of Summerville’s Downtown Historic District. Over 700 structures are included in the Historic District.
Please see the Town’s UDO, Section 13.3.6 and 13.8 to determine applicability. Contact Town staff to discuss your particular project and schedule a pre-application conference with the Technical Review Committee (TRC), if required.
The Board of Zoning Appeals is a five-citizen appointed board that, as provided for by SC State legislation, hears appeals of the Unified Development Ordinance where, due to a hardship or peculiar conditions of a particular property, a variance of the regulations is required, (such as a reduction in building setbacks) may be granted. The Board also hears requests for appeals to the written decision of the Zoning Administrator, if a property owner feels that decision was made in error.
While, many planning and zoning reviews may be handled administratively by the Town staff, due to state law or local ordinance, some reviews require approval by one or more of the Town’s committees, commissions, boards or Council. The Planning Department staff is available to advise you on the process as it relates to your specific goals. It is recommended that you consult them early in your project, as they will be able to help with ordinance compliance and save you time later.
For a step by step guide to filling out a CitizenServe application, click here.