What are the zoning codes involved in running a combined retail/event space?

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

An award-winning small business attorney in New York City, Nina is a sought-after professional speaker and Entrepreneur Magazine online contributor. She is the go-to counsel for knowledge economy and creative companies, delivering legal services and educational resources that save them time, money, and aggravation.

Posted on September 29, 2014 in Form a Company

Q.:  My business is a tattoo parlor/coffee shop/art gallery/live music venue. No alcohol is served and all ages are welcome. I have obtained the proper retail business licensing.  Do I need any other business licensing? The fire marshal shut down one of our shows because I didn’t have a “license to assemble.” As far as I can find, such a thing does not exist. Do you know of such a thing?


A.:  Zoning codes and permits are very prickly things.  From the perspective of zoning codes, running a retail business that has some foot traffic is very different from running an event space where you can expect larger groups to congregate.  And where more people congregate, there’s more risk of people getting hurt, starting a fire, or causing mayhem on the surrounding sidewalks, etc.

Each locality has its own zoning codes, rules, and regulations concerning the “license to assemble”/”right to assembly” (which has to do with people gathering, not putting parts of a machine together).  If you don’t have a food establishment permit, or you’re in the wrong zoning area for your art gallery/live music, that could be the reason for the fire marshal’s reaction.

To get to the heart of the matter most quickly, speak to an attorney in your area who deals with small businesses like yours – they’ll likely know exactly which zoning codes apply and how best to work within them.


What other law questions do you have about business licensing and zoning codes?


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