When do I need a permit?

The Capitol Zoning District Commission regulates all land use and development in the Capitol Zoning District.  You must obtain a Capitol Zoning permit before beginning any work on additions or alterations to existing structures, and before beginning work on a new structure or permanent site improvement.  A Capitol Zoning permit is a prerequisite to a Little Rock building permit, but may be required even when a city permit is not. (No permit is required for routine maintenance chores, like mowing, caulking, or repainting.)  A Capitol Zoning permit is also a prerequisite to getting a Privilege License or Certificate of Occupancy from the city. In addition, all signs in the District require a Capitol Zoning permit.

The Capitol Zoning District Rules require that a Capitol Zoning permit be posted where work is going on, to aid the staff in determining whether a particular permit has been reviewed and approved.

If you are in doubt as to whether work you are considering will require a Capitol Zoning permit, please call us at 501-324-9644 or email at capitol.zoning@arkansas.gov.  We are eager to help, and we don't charge any fees for our permits.

What kind of permit do I need?

The type of permit you need to apply for is determined by the kind of project you propose. Some permits require review and approval by the Commission at its regularly scheduled public hearing, and others may be approved by staff. The Capitol Zoning District Commission issues the following permits:

    1).   Work on your building or site:

Certificates of Appropriateness

A Certificate of Appropriateness is required for exterior alterations or additions to existing structures in the Capitol Zoning District, as well as for new construction or demolition. Certificates of Appropriateness for modifications that involve a change in appearance or materials will usually require Commission approval.  Minor modifications and certain restorations may be approved on a staff level.

    2).     Opening a Business:

Certificates of Compliance

Each zone in the District has a list of land uses that are allowed by right.  Single family residences, for example, are allowed throughout the Governor's Mansion Area.  A Certificate of Compliance is required to use a property for a purpose that is allowed by right. This is a staff-level permit.

Conditional Use Permits

For each zone, there is also list of Conditional Uses.  These land uses are more intensive than those allowed by right, but are usually allowed with Commission review.  The Commission may attach one more conditions to your permit, to ensure the property is being used in a manner consistent with the Master Plan.  For a complete list of permitted and conditional uses in each zone, see the General Standards.

    3).    Other Circumstances:

Temporary Use Permits

A Temporary Use Permit is required for special uses of limited duration that might otherwise be prohibited. These permits are often issued by staff, but more intensive temporary uses may require review by the Commission.


A Variance, which can only be issued by the Commission, is a waiver of the literal provisions of the General Standards.  Variances are very rare, and  require the applicant to demonstrate that, because of a physical feature on their property, applying the General Standards will make the property unusable.

Certificate of Economic Hardship

An applicant who has been denied a Certificate of Appropriateness may apply for a Certificate of Economic Hardship.  These permits are also rare, and require the applicant to demonstrate that the cost of complying with the Rehabilitation Standards is unreasonable when compared to the value of the property.

How do I apply for a permit?

1).     The first step in applying for a permit is normally to contact Capitol Zoning staff to talk about your proposed use or design. The staff can help you determine whether a permit is available for your project and what kind of permit is needed. (You may be able to determine this information on your own by reviewing the materials available on this site).

2).     After you determine what kind of permit you need, Capitol Zoning staff will advise you what information needs to be submitted as a part of your application. (This information is also available on our application forms.)

3).     Submit the application form and supporting materials to the Capitol Zoning staff. The staff will review your materials and determine whether a permit may be issued at staff level. If your permit will require the approval of the Commission, your application will be scheduled for the next Commission hearing. The Commission hears applications once a month, and applications which require Commission review must usually be submitted a month in advance.

4).     If an application must be reviewed by the Commission at a public hearing, it will first be presented to one or more of the Commission's advisory boards. All design-related permits will be reviewed by the Design Review Committee and the Area Advisory Committee of the area in which the proposed project is located. All other permits will be reviewed by the applicable Area Advisory Committee. You are encouraged to attend these committee meetings to present your proposal. You or your designated representative are required to attend the Commission's hearing on your proposal.

What criteria will the Commission use to evaluate my application?

The criteria used by the Commission are laid out in the Capitol Zoning Administrative Rules and Procedures, General Standards, Framework Master Plans, and Rehabilitation and Design Standards. If your proposal is use-related, the General Standards and Framework Master Plan for the area in which the proposed use are located will be most helpful. If you are proposing design-related work, the Rehabilitation and Design Standards will be most helpful. The CZDC staff is also happy to answer any questions you have about what factors the Commission will take into account when your application is reviewed.

Please note: While we try our very best to keep this web site up to date, we cannot guarantee that the materials presented on this site are the latest available. Please check with the staff to determine current requirements and forms.

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