Use Permits

The County requires business owners to obtain a Use permit before they can operate a new business or change the use of any business in unincorporated Lake County. (151.110) The County does not require business licenses, however, a business may be required to obtain other licenses in order to operate. 

The County requires the Use permit to ensure that there will be adequate parking to serve the use (151.165(A)), the space meets current building and/or health code requirements for the use (171.035(D) or 173.04), there is adequate access to the site from a pubic roadway and(151.169(C)) and, if the property is served by Lake County Public Works sewer (53.05(C)(5)) and/or water (52.02(G)), to determine if the new business will be required to pay sewer or water permit fees. 

When Do I need a Use Permit?

An Early Assistance (EA) meeting will be required so staff may determine if a Use permit will be required. EA meetings help identify project requirements and provide guidance to applicants, especially in cases involving complicated design issues or difficult projects, before the application is finalized. A summary of the EA meeting is provided to applicants and their design consultants to assist with design, layout, and/or calculation requirements for the Use permit.

In general, Use permits are required when the use (business) is located in unincorporated Lake County and either condition #1 or #2 is met:

  1. There is a change in use at the location.
    • The business will occupy a location that was previously occupied by a business that offered a different type of service than that which will be established in the space. Examples of changes in use include:
      • The conversion of an office space to a medical office space, an office space to a commercial retail space, a retail space to a restaurant, or a vacant space to a new business use.
    • A business proposes new or expanded uses at its current location. For example:
      • The redevelopment of an existing gas station to include a convenience store and car wash.
      • The expansion of a building.
  2. The use at the location does not change but the business that had occupied the space has been closed for over one year.

How Do I Apply?

To begin the process, please call the Planning, Building and Development office at 847-377-2600 and ask to speak to a Planner/Project Manager (PM3) regarding a commercial project. The PM3 will work with you to schedule an EA meeting with applicable County staff who will be part of the Use permit review process.

When you are ready to submit your permit application, visit the Planning, Building and Development Department office located in the:

Lake County Central Permit Facility
500 W Winchester Road
Libertyville, IL 60048

Business owners or their authorized agent must apply for Use permits in person. The property owner must provide a signature on the application form.

What Do I Need?

  • The address of the property or the Property Index Number (PIN).
  • A completed Application Form (PDF).
  • A detailed narrative explaining all the proposed uses that will occupy the space, the square footage dedicated to each use, and number of employees.
  • When the space is in a multi-unit building, a list of the other businesses located in the building, their square footage, and number of employees for each business.
  • A site plan that shows the available parking.
  • Three (3) complete sets of the proposed interior floor plan that is drawn accurately and to scale. The floor plan drawing must show:
    • any proposed changes to the existing floor layout,
    • labels identifying each room or space use (i.e. reception, exam room, kitchen, storage),
    • new plumbing or electrical fixtures and existing fixture that will remain,
    • in addition, an existing interior floor plan may be submitted as it may help plan reviewers understand how existing fixtures and spaces will be repurposed.
  • If the new use will result in increased vehicle trips to the site, you may be required to contact the roadway authority to modify or obtain road access permits.
  • Applicable permit fees are required at the time of application submission. We accept check, cash or credit/debit cards.

So Now That I’ve Applied - What’s Next?

  • A special inspection is required (sometimes prior to application) to determine if the proposed use will meet all the applicable codes. Please call the Planning, Building and Development office at 847-377-2600 to schedule a special inspection.
  • Your application will be reviewed for compliance with applicable codes and ordinances. The review process is a minimum 15 business days. If your project complies, you will be issued your Use permit. If the review does not comply, you will receive a letter summarizing the changes required in order to receive your Use permit.
  • If the space requires remodeling, you may be required to apply for a building alteration permit.
  • If the use includes selling food, you will have to obtain the appropriate permits from the Lake County Health Department (847-377-8020)
  • If the use includes selling liquor, you will be required to obtain a liquor license from theLiquor Commission. (847-377-2300)
  • A site development permit may also be required depending on the site conditions and proposed improvements.

How Much Will My Permit Cost?

Use permit fees are calculated at time of permit application and are based on the square footage of the building. Additional permits and fees, such as building or water, may also be required. The Early Assistance meeting fee will be credited towards the Use permit/Building permit fees at time of application of those permits. For more information, see the Land Development Fee Schedule (PDF)