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New Commercial and Multi-Family Construction

Pre-Application Meeting

The Planning and Development Division strongly encourages developers planning to construct new multi-family or commercial structures to meet with city staff prior to plan submission. A pre-application meeting allows city staff from various departments to discuss requirements and potential issues in depth with applicants, which can reduce the need for plan re-submission and help shorten the amount of time it takes to have plans approved. A pre-application meeting can be scheduled at no cost by contacting the Planning and Development Division at (828) 323-7422.

Plan Review Process

The following agencies review plans for commercial and multi-family projects. In some cases approval from other agencies (county, state, and/or federal) is required. Additionally, some projects may require Planning Commission and/or City Council approval, a process that will involve public hearings. The Planning Division has developed a flow chart to help explain the plan review process. A commercial plan review checklist has also been created to guide design professionals through the various requirements related to plan approval.

Planning and Development: The Planning and Development Division reviews plans for compliance with the Land Development Code and other applicable zoning regulations. For more information please call (828) 323-7422. A Commercial Zoning Permit is required for all new construction and when existing buildings change occupancy classification. For details about the zoning compliance permit process, please contact the Permit Center at (828) 323-7410.

Fire & Life Safety: The Fire & Life Safety Division reviews plans for compliance with the North Carolina State Fire and Building Codes. This division also reviews applications for sprinkler and fire alarm systems. For more information contact the Fire & Life Safety Division at (828) 323-7522.

Engineering: The Engineering Division reviews plans to ensure compliance with the Manual of Practice street design, curb and gutter, sidewalk, and stormwater requirements. A Commercial Grading Permit and Erosion Control Affidavit is generally required for any land disturbance. For more information, contact the Engineering Division at (828) 323-7416.

Public Utilities: The Public Utilities Division reviews plans to ensure compliance with regulations related to water and sewer services, which include new construction or changes to existing systems. The Public Utilities Division will inform you of any fees to connect to water and sewer. Fees are required to be paid before taps are scheduled. For more information, contact the Public Utilities Division at (828) 323-7427.

Catawba County Building Services: In 2003, Catawba County took over responsibility for building inspections in the City of Hickory. Catawba County reviews all construction plans to ensure compliance with the North Carolina State Building Code. Although the offices for Building Services are located in the City of Newton, a Skype portal connecting applicants to Catawba County Building Services is available at the Permit Center in Hickory City Hall. Catawba County Building Services can be reached at (828) 465-8399.

Project Management System

The City of Hickory has developed a project management system to assist applicants throughout the development review process. When contact is first made with the city regarding a large scale or complex development project, the project will be assigned to a city official to act as a project manager. The project manager will function as the liaison between the City of Hickory and the development team throughout the project’s review from the pre-application meeting until the project is completed. All project managers can be reached at (828) 323-7422.


For new construction of commercial buildings, seven (7) complete sets of construction plans must be submitted. These plans must have appropriate seals and signatures of architects and engineers. If approval from the Environmental Health Division is required, eight (8) complete sets of plans will be required. The Permit Center will be able to provide the exact number of plans needed, as project requirements may vary.

Express Plan Review

Catawba County Building Services has implemented a program called "Express Plan Review." In short, applicants are able to pay an hourly fee to have a review conducted of their plans. Applicants are then presented with a list of corrections that are needed. When customers submit the revised plans for review, the plan reviewers will verify the corrections on the plans and approve them for a permit on the same day. More information may be obtained from the Catawba County Building Services at (828) 465-8399.

Other Required Permits

Fire Department General Inspection Use Permits

An application for a Fire Department General Inspection Use Permit, to be filled out by the tenant prior to occupancy, can be applied for at the same time as plan submittal. Further information can be obtained by contacting Fire & Life Safety at (828) 323-7522.

Fire Department Construction Permits

Fire Department Construction Permits are required for the installation, renovation or modification of automatic sprinkler systems, fire alarm and detection systems, automatic fire suppression systems, and flammable/combustible liquids storage tanks. To obtain an application or learn more information, contact Fire & Life Safety at (828) 323-7522.

Erosion and Sedimentation Control

Erosion and sedimentation control are required regardless of the size or the land disturbance. The law requires land developers to prevent erosion and off site sedimentation on all disturbed areas. A Commercial Grading Permit is required from the City of Hickory Engineering Division. If one acre or more is disturbed, an erosion and sedimentation control plan must also be filed with the Catawba County Erosion and Sedimentation Control Division thirty (30) days prior to beginning work. For more information, please contact the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Division at (828) 465-8161 or the Engineering Division at (828) 323-7416.

Street and Driveway Access Permit

Projects that involve street and/or driveway access onto a state-maintained road need approval from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Four (4) copies of the site plan and driveway permit applications must be submitted to the City of Hickory Engineering Division.

Projects that involve street and/or driveway access onto city-maintained streets are approved during the site plan review process. Further information may be obtained from the Engineering Division at (828) 323-7416.

Key Documents

Commercial Plan Review Flow Chart
Commercial Plan Review Checklist
Commercial Zoning / Grading Permit Application
Erosion Control Affidavit