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How to Open a Business


Contact the Economic Development Coordinator at (860) 342-6727 to discuss your business proposal and request a meeting with the Development Division Team


Why?  It’s free and you will be able to connect directly with the Town staff and consultants who will be reviewing your proposal and providing advice and direction to assist you with making informed decisions about your venture at the initial stages.  These team members may include the Economic Development Coordinator, Planning & Land Use Administrator, Fire Marshal, Chatham Health Sanitarian, Zoning Official, Building Official, Town Engineer, Inland Wetlands Agent and Public Works Director. 


You’ve now met with the Team and want to move ahead with your proposal!  That’s great!  Let’s determine the approval process. 


Why?  So you can know upfront how long it might take you to get through the process and avoid any delays to your Grand Opening!

Same Use

When the use is the same as one that previously occupied a legal tenant space or a building (i.e. retail to retail, office to office, manufacturing to manufacturing) a zoning permit WILL be issued by the Zoning Enforcement Officer.  A zoning permit will cost $90.  This fee includes a mandatory state fee of $60.  Approval for any proposed signage will be included in this zoning permit fee if it is being proposed at the same time the application is submitted.

Different Use

When a change of use of an existing building or tenant space is being proposed that is the not the same use as previously occupying that space/building, but has the same intensity or less (i.e. will not require additional parking or any other site improvement - such as a retail to office use), it MAY be approved by the Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO) through the issuance of a zoning permit.  The ZEO has the discretion to send any change of use proposal to the Planning and Zoning Commission. 

When a change of use is more intensive, as determined by the ZEO, or is being established for the first time on a particular property, and/or requires an addition or new building, the Commission MUST review and approve the proposal in accordance with the standards they have adopted in their Zoning Regulations.  Site Plan uses and Special Permit uses require submission of an application at least 21 days prior to the first meeting of every month.   Special Permit uses require that a public hearing be held to provide opportunity for interested parties to comment on the proposal.

How to Successfully Open a Business in Portland

The following is a brief summation of the process to getting your new business started. Please read the following information and feel free to contact the Land Use Administrator (860) 342-6727 for any questions or to request a meeting. You can also contact us by email at or submit a Question Submission Form found below on this page.

Question Submission Form

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