What is a building permit? What is a land use and zoning permit or approval?

A building permit gives you legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with the approved drawings and specifications. The drawings and specifications must be approved and a permit issued by Eureka Township. The purpose of the permit is to ensure that the building project meets minimum safety, zoning, and aesthetic requirements of Eureka Township and the Minnesota State Building Code.

A land use and zoning permit or approval gives you permission to engage in a specific land use within the township. Your request must be approved, and a permit must be issued or approval granted by Eureka Township. The purpose of the permit or approval is to ensure that land uses in the township are in conformance with the land use and zoning requirements of Eureka Township and the State of Minnesota.

What things do I need to get a permit for?

Frequently, we get asked, “What things do I need to get a Building Permit for?” Now this would seem to be an easy question to answer, but the reality is not so simple. Building and construction activities in Minnesota are regulated by the MN State Building Code. MN Rules Chapter 1300.0120 tells us what the requirements for permits are. Subpart 1, Permits says:

An owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert, or replace any gas, mechanical, electrical, plumbing system, or other equipment, the installation of which is regulated by the code; or cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.

Your municipality may have zoning restrictions that are more stringent and would also require a permit, such as: fences, pools, sidewalks, and driveways. The Building Code Exceptions to this rule are spelled out in Subpart 4, ‘Work exempt from permit’:

Exemptions from permit requirements of the code do not authorize work to be done in any manner in violation of the code or any other laws or zoning ordinances of this jurisdiction.

When is a permit not required?

Permits shall not be required for the following:

A. Building Permits:

  1. One-Story detached accessory structures, used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet;
  2. oil derricks;
  3. retaining walls that are not over four feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I,II, or III-A liquids;
  4. water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1;
  5. sidewalks and driveways that are not part of an accessible route;
    decks and platforms not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade and not attached to a structure with frost footings and which is not part of an accessible route;
  6. painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops, and similar finish work;
  7. temporary motion picture, television, and theater stage sets and scenery;
    prefabricated swimming pools installed entirely above ground accessory to dwelling units constructed to the provisions of the International Residential Code or R3 occupancies constructed to the provisions of the International Building Code, which do not exceed both 5,000 gallons in capacity and a 24 inch depth;
  8. window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support, when constructed under the International Residential Code or Group R3 and Group U occupancies constructed to the provisions of the International Building Code;
  9. movable cases, counters, and partitions not over five feet, nine inches in height;
    agricultural buildings as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 16B.60, subdivision 5;
  10. swings and other playground equipment. Unless otherwise exempted, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical permits are required for sub items (1) to (14) on the previous page.

B. Fuel Gas Permits:

  1. portable heating, cooking, or clothes drying appliances;
  2. replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make the equipment unsafe; and
  3. portable fuel cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are interconnected to a power grid.

C. Mechanical Permits:

  1. portable heating appliances;
  2. portable ventilation appliances and equipment;
  3. portable cooling units;
  4. steam, hot, or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by this code;
  5. replacement of any part that does not alter approval of equipment or make the equipment unsafe;
  6. portable evaporative coolers;
  7. self contained refrigeration systems containing ten pounds (4.5 kg) or less of refrigerant or that are actuated by motors of one horsepower (0.75 kW) or less; and
  8. portable fuel cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.

D. Plumbing Permits:

The clearing of stoppages, provided the work does not involve or require the replacement, or rearrangement of valves, pipes, or fixtures.

E. Electrical Permits:

An electrical permit is not required if work is inspected by the State Board of Electricity or is exempt from inspection under Minnesota Statues, section 326.244. Obtaining a permit from the Board of Electricity does not exempt the work from other Minnesota State Building Code requirements relating to electrical equipment, its location, or its performance.

So, that’s it. If you are doing any work and it is not listed in the above exemptions, then you need to get a permit.

If you have any questions about the code or would like clarification of any of the above information, please call your local building inspections office.

In general, land use and zoning permits or approval are required for the following:

  • Conditional uses
  • Interim uses
  • Lot splits
  • Building right clusters
  • Expansion or alteration of nonconforming uses
  • Excavation or installation of utilities that disturbs township roads or right-of-way (including ditches)
  • Excavation that disturbs more than one acre of land
Are permits required for buildings or structures that are temporary or movable?

Building permits are required whether or not the building or structure in question is temporary, attached to the ground, or movable.

What is the procedure for obtaining a permit?

In general, you must complete an application and pay the application fee, go before the Eureka Township Planning Commission for a recommendation on your request, and go before the Eureka Town Board for final approval. The “Building Permit, Land Use, and Zoning Application Procedures” handout has more detailed information on the procedure for obtaining a permit, and the Fee Schedule has more information on application fees.

Can someone else get a permit on my behalf?

Yes. For example, a building contractor, rather than the property owner, may apply for a building permit for a project. A property may also choose to have someone else (a real estate agent, attorney, or relative) represent an application before the planning commission or town board.

However, any time an application will be represented by someone other than the person named on the application form, a signed “Representative Authorization Form” (PDF file) is required.

What does a permit cost?

The cost varies with the type of permit. See the Fee Schedule for a list of the costs of various types of permits.

When are permit applications due?

For a permit request to be considered at the next Planning Commission meeting, you must submit a complete application to the Eureka Town Clerk by 12:00 noon on the Thursday ten (10) days prior to the meeting. Applications received after this time will not be acted on until the following month’s meeting. The Eureka Township Planning Commission meets the first Monday of every month.

How long does the permitting process take?

You should expect the application process to take a minimum of 5 weeks: 1–2 weeks to prepare and submit your application, 2 weeks for Township Staff and the Planning Commission to review and make a recommendation on your application, and 1 week for the Town Board to review and act on (approve or deny) your application. Please be aware that some applications may take longer to process.

What is a site plan? Where do I get one?

A site plan is a drawing of your entire lot that includes all of the following (NOTE: distances should be in relation to the proposed building or structure for which you are requesting a permit):

  • the dimensions and shape of the lot (lot lines)
  • the dimensions and location of the building or structure that is to be erected or remodeled
  • the distance from the building or structure to the rear and side property lines, as well as to the center of the road on which the building fronts (this is called the setback)
  • the location of and distance to all other buildings and structures on the lot (including houses, sheds, decks, signs, and agricultural buildings)
  • the location of and distance to the well and septic system (tank and drainfields)
  • the location of existing driveways and roads servicing the lot
  • the location of any proposed driveways, and distances to neighbouring driveways on the same side of the road
  • (where required) the location of and distance to dwellings and farm buildings on adjoining lots

A site plan does not need to be professionally drawn or drawn to scale. A hand-drawn site plan is acceptable, so long as it is clear, accurate, and shows all of the required information. Architects or contractors may provide a site plan as part of their service. An example hand-drawn site plan is available here.