Planning & Zoning

The Community & Economic Development Department (CED) is the first stop to getting a building permit in the City of Ferndale. Approval by CED is required for all new construction and for any changes in the use of property.

Zoning Pre-Approval Process


Prior to beginning any development process in the City, applicants are encouraged to meet with City staff for a conceptual review of the proposed project. This meeting can help promote a smooth approval process once a formal application is submitted. Please call the Community and Economic Development Department to schedule a meeting and view the checklist for information about what to bring to the meeting and what to expect.


The City's Zoning Plan is an important tool for land use management within the boundaries of Ferndale. 

City of Ferndale Zoning Ordinance

City of Ferndale Zoning Map (ArcGIS)

City of Ferndale Zoning Map (PDF)

Apply for Zoning Determination Request (ZDR)

Central Business District Zoning Map (ArcGIS)


Zoning Department approval is needed for all exterior construction and most interior work. Examples of projects requiring zoning approval include extensions/additions, garages, commercial parking pads, commercial fences, decks, swimming pools, signs, and new building construction. A stamped survey is required for approval of all new construction, extensions/additions, and renovations.

Zoning Approval

To determine if a site or building is appropriate for your proposed use, complete and fill out a Zoning Determination (ZDR) form prior to leasing or completing a purchase. The ZDR determines if the site is zoned correctly for the proposed use. It also determines if there are any additional special approvals required.

If no site plan approval is required, the applicant may proceed directly to the Certificate of Occupancy process through the Permit Center.  A Certificate of Occupancy is necessary prior to opening any business in the City.

If a site plan approval is required, the applicant must submit plans in conformance with Article 11, Site Plan Review of the City’s Zoning Ordinance

Complete site plan packages are submitted to the CED department for review. Plans are reviewed and a determination is made regarding the plan's compliance with applicable requirements. The plan may be approved by the CED Director or forwarded to the Planning Commission for approval.

The City’s Zoning Ordinance identifies which uses are allowed within each individual zoning district. Those uses are divided into two categories: Permitted and Special Land Uses. 

Permitted uses are those allowed by right within the district. An applicant must only demonstrate technical compliance with the dimensional requirements of the ordinance for approval.

Special Land Uses are those that may be allowed in the district only after review of an additional set of criteria (Article 12 of the City’s Zoning Ordinance). These criteria are established to protect districts from inaproppriate uses. SLUs require a Public Hearing in front of the Planning Commission and City Council approval. All Special Land Use requests must be accompanied by plans and information demonstrating compliance with current zoning requirements and SLU criteria.

There are three types of requests: Use Variances, Dimensional Variances, and Sign Variances.

A Use Variance is a request to allow a specific use in a zoning district where it is not currently permitted. Use Variances are permitted in the City of Ferndale.

A Dimensional Variance (or Non-Use Variance) is a request to vary from a specific dimensional requirement within the Code of Ordinance. Variance requests are subject to a specific set of requirements identified in Article 18 of the City’s Zoning OrdinanceApplications must address all of the identified criteria.  Dimensional Variances are heard by the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals. The board must agree that an applicant meets all of the necessary requirements prior to approving a request.