The Zoning Permit is currently regulated by the Amended Saipan Zoning Law of 20132. This article will give you an idea of what documents may be required for your Commercial Zoning Permit Application so that you can obtain your Business License.
What are the current zoning districts?
Under the Amended Saipan Zoning Law of 2013, there are 11 zoning districts:
- Beach Road
- Garapan Core
- Garapan East
- Mixed Commercial
- Public Resource
- Tourist Resort
- Village Commercial
- Village Residential
What are the use categories under the current law?
- Agricultural Uses
- Residential Uses
- Home-Based Business
- Hotels, Restaurant, Adult
- Office Uses
- Retail Sales and Services
- Public and Civic Uses
- Recreational Uses
- Industrial Uses
- Utility Uses
- Temporary Uses
How do I confirm if my proposed business is allowed?
The first step is to check the current Official Saipan Zoning Map to confirm the zoning district your property is located in. This is the link to the Official Saipan Zoning Map.
Next, check Table 1 under Article 4, Section 404 of the Amended Saipan Zoning Law of 2013. Here is the link.
What should I submit with my application?
1. Site Development Plan:
(a) Proposed structures with dimensions
(b) Existing structures with dimensions
(c) Setbacks (distance of the structure from the boundary lines on the front, side, and rear yards)
(d) Property lines
(e) Adjacent street names
(f) Parking with dimensions
(g) Sidewalks with dimensions
(h) Landscaping with dimensions
(i) Parking light posts
2. Floor Plan with Dimensions
3. Building Materials and Elevations Plans (designs)
4. Rental or Lease Agreement
5. Photo(s) of Existing Building or Unit Façade and Parking Area
6. Notarized Authorization Letter (if required)
Plan/Map must be stamped and signed by the maker of the plan and applicant.
If I open a business at my home, is that a “home business” under the Saipan Zoning Law of 2013?
(1) Is conducted within a dwelling by members of the immediate family that reside in the dwelling;
(2) Has no more than one outside employee;
(3) The primary use of the home shall be as a residence;
(4) Involves no alteration of the exterior structure except play equipment or fencing;
(5) Has no effect on the general character of the neighborhood;
(6) Offers no specialized service to groups of more than 5 persons except a home day care which may serve up to 6 children; and
(7) Offers no goods bought for the express purpose of resale.
If your business is a home business, instead of applying for a commercial zoning permit, you can apply for a Home Business Permit at the zoning office.
How many parking spaces should I reserve for my business?
The number of the parking lot you need to reserve depends on the size and business type of your property. The current requirements are listed below. The zoning department is very strict about their zoning requirements. It is beneficial for the client to check the requirements and draw lines for the parking area before submitting the application.
Table 1. Residential Parking Requirements
|Residential Use||Required Parking Spaces (min)|
|Dwelling unit – single family||2.0 per dwelling unit|
|Dwelling unit – multifamily|
|Studio||1.0 per dwelling unit|
|One-bedroom unit||1.0 per dwelling unit|
|Two-bedroom unit||1.5 per dwelling unit|
|Three-bedroom or more unit||2.0 per dwelling unit|
|Retirement home||0.8 per dwelling unit|
|Rest home, nursing, convalescent home, institutional residential||0.3 per bed|
|Congregate care facility||0.5 per dwelling unit|
Table 2. Non-Residential Parking Requirements
|Non-Residential Use||Required Parking Spaces (min)|
|Auto rental office||3.0 per 1,000 sf plus 1 per rental vehicle|
|Adult Gambling Machine Business||1.0 per machine|
|Church, synagogue and temple||
1.0 per 4 fixed seats plus
1.0 per 50 sf of gross floor area without fixed seats for assembly purposes
|Daycare facility or pre-school||2.0 plus 1.0 per employee|
|Financial institution||3.0 per 1,000 sf|
|Food store or market||3.0 per 1,000 sf|
|Government building, studio, professional or business office||3.0 per 1,000 sf|
|Hotel or motel||
1.0 per room plus
1.0 per employee on any given shift
|Medical office||3.0 per 1,000 sf|
|Manufacturing||1.0 per 1,000 sf|
|Personal service without fixed station||3.0 per 1,000 sf|
|Personal service with fixed station||1.0 per station|
|Restaurant, cafeteria or snack bar||8.0 per 1,000 sf|
|Retail sale or service store||3.0 per 1,000 sf
1.0 per employee on any given shift
|Service station, vehicle repair or vehicle maintenance||
3.0 per facility plus
1.0 per service bay plus
3.0 per 1,000 sf for store
|Schools||3.0 plus 1.0 per classroom|
1.0 per 4 fixed seats and/or
1.0 per 100 sf of gross floor area without fixed seats for assembly purposes
|Wholesale or warehouse||1.0 per 1,000 sf|
If I don’t have enough space for parking, what should I do?
Under Section 902 of the zoning law, an applicant can apply for a modification of the required number of parking spaces. The applicant should provide justification in the application, and the justification needs to be prepared by a qualified professional approved by the Administrator of the zoning board.
My proposed business is marked as “conditional use.” What does that mean?
That means your proposed business is only allowed after receiving approval for a conditional use permit. For all kinds of conditional use businesses, the business must: (a) be consistent with all applicable provisions of an adopted comprehensive land use plan; (b) be compatible with the existing or allowable uses of adjacent properties and surrounding neighborhood; (c) employ reasonable measures of fencing, buffering, traffic restraints, sign and light controls, and other appropriate measures to protect the surrounding properties and adjoining districts; (d) demonstrate that adequate public facilities- including roads, drainage, potable water, sanitary sewer, and police and fire protection- exists, or will exist, to serve their purpose when such facilities are needed; (e) not create undue traffic congestion; (f) not adversely affect the public health, safety, or welfare; (g) meet specific requirements for the type of conditional use and all other applicable provisions of this law; and (h) adequately avoid or mitigate unacceptable or significant adverse impacts to environmental elements including storm water runoff, erosion, noise, air, including odors, wildlife habitat, public access, view shed, and other factors identified by the Board.
In addition to the general requirements listed here, different kinds of facilities will face different kinds of requirements. Conditional use is regulated by Article 7 of the Saipan Zoning Law of 2013. Before submitting your application, it is very important to check all requirements in the statute. If you have questions regarding your specific business, you can contact the Zoning Board directly at (670) 234-9661/2/3 to confirm the requirements in advance.
I conduct my business over the Internet, and I don’t have a physical store. Do I still need a Zoning Permit?
Unfortunately, right now Zoning is taking the position that you do need a Zoning Permit. They will accept an application that lists your apartment or even a hotel room as the location for your online business.
Zoning wants me to submit my Standard Operating Procedure. I consider that proprietary and I am worried my competitors will see it. Do I have to submit it?
How long will it take to get the Zoning Permit?
2 The Zoning Act can be found at 10 CMC §3511 et. seq. Zoning Regulations can be found at Title 165 of the Administrative Code.
3 10 CMC §1304(c).