Zoning Permit Process

What is a Zoning Permit?

A zoning permit is a document that is issued by The City of Williamstown, which allows a parcel of land to be used for a prescribed use. In more general terms, zoning has to do with the legislative processes of separating land into zones for different purposes, and zoning laws regulate the land and take control over the permission behind what structures are and are not allowed to be built on the land.

Why is Zoning Important?

Zoning is important because zoning laws determine the type of structures than can or cannot be built. Zoning laws also control whether an existing property can or cannot be repurposed, or even replaced with something completely new. You may not be thinking about taking part of any of the mentioned situations; however, you may have a neighbor who is currently considering one of these phenomena, and their decision could be detrimental to your own property. Understanding the laws in regard to obtaining a zoning permit is important because it will help you to understand whether or not the change that you wish to make is possible, as well as whether or not you will be able to modify or even prevent a certain change that you wish to undergo.

What Is the Purpose of Zoning?

Zoning laws are there in order to ensure the “health, safety and general welfare of the public.” What an individual or a company chooses to do with a certain space of land should in no way negatively impact the surrounding population. Ideally, acts of governance should always prioritize the best interest of a residential population.

Zoning permits are important because they grant individuals the rights to action concerning land structures, only if they ensure the protection of safety and health of the surrounding people and the general welfare related to land use.

To achieve this purpose, zoning laws regulate the impacts of land use that may not be in the best interests of the people, generally including things such as:

  • Protecting the value and enjoyment of properties by separating incompatible land uses and minimizing their potentially negative impacts upon each other.
  • Protecting the value and enjoyment of properties by allowing a property its most appropriate land use given its location and surrounding uses.
  • Providing for the orderly development of a city, including making provisions for land uses in the best interests of its citizens.
  • Providing adequate public infrastructure, e.g., roads, water and sewers

In essence, zoning has all to do with the compatibility of uses. The City of Williamstown want, both the good of the residents, as well as industrial uses for economic growth.

But how can both residential users and industrial users be content with a certain zoning law?  

  • The way that each district can and cannot be used (in terms of agriculture, commerce, and residential purposes).
  • The types of building structures that can or cannot be constructed within every district (taking into account the configuration, the structure size, and the number of stories).
  •  The locations of the structures.
  • The measures that landowners must take into account in order to comply with neighbor needs (such as flood control and buffers).

Steps to Obtaining a Zoning Permit

In order to understand zoning permits completely, it is important to understand zoning code, the work that goes behind creating zoning laws, and the authoritative bodies that are in charge of regulating zoning applications. Understanding what a comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance is critical to fully grasping the importance of zoning, and what makes a zoning permit different from a building permit. Essentially, zoning takes the well-being of the people into account, regarding how a building structure and its potential uses will or will not affect the entirety of a community. 


Applying for a zoning permit is essentially the first step in carrying out any development on land.

The local authority provides these permits after you submit relevant documents indicating the change you’d like to make to a given area.


Let’s look at the details on what exactly constitutes a zoning permit process:


  1.  Contact The City of Williamstown Municipal Building
  •  By gathering all this information on the existing regulations in place, you can now determine what’s the zoning permit and specific permissions you’ll need to apply for. 

  1.  Gather Relevant Documents
  • This is where you’ll start to complete the application form and gather supporting documents to apply for a zoning permit.
  • You’ll have to provide site plans, blueprints, and other documents that help authorities understand what you’re planning on building and how this affects the surrounding area.
  1.  Applying for A Zoning Permit
  • With all the documents and application form completed, it’s time to apply for the zoning permit. 
  • Applicant submits a completed Williamstown Zoning Permit Application to the Williamstown Zoning Administrator.
  • Application will be reviewed to determine compliance with Williamstown Zoning Ordinance.
    Williamstown Zoning Administrator’s decision will be forwarded to the Grant County Building Department, if applicable, for Building Permit review.


  1.  Note:
  • Any changes to current regulations take time. Applications must be reviewed prior to a hearing.