Small Business Development Guide

Small Business Development Guide

Congratulations!

On deciding to establish or expand your business in the City of Zephyrhills! The City of Zephyrhills is committed to taking an active role in supporting and growing our business and development community. We believe that it is necessary to foster and facilitate the creation of a self-sustaining local environment to grow, attract and retain a creative, talented and educated workforce. We aim to balance private sector needs with neighborhood and quality of life issues to encourage economic opportunities for all Zephyrhills residents 

City staff is eager to assist you in navigating the process of getting your business or project up and running. 

This guide is intended to help property owners, existing or new businesses to navigate the permitting and licensing process and to answer many common questions. It will provide an overview of the process and the most frequently-asked questions. While we have attempted to cover most issues, there may be something that is still unclear. As a result, we have included phone numbers and contact information in order to help make the process easier. 

Small Business Clip

Overview

There are several steps to receive approval for a new business in the City of Zephyrhills. Please verify zoning prior to signing a lease or purchase. 

1. Obtain City Zoning Approval – All businesses must comply with zoning requirements before conducting business in the City of Zephyrhills. Depending on the location and type of business, the types of approvals may include: verification that the use is permitted in that location, Conditional Use, Site Plan Review, Historic Preservation Board, and/or Zephyrhills CRA. Check the zoning of the property prior to signing a lease or purchase. This will help minimize any possible delays, additional costs, or the inability to use the property for your business due to zoning regulations. Verify your business is permitted or a conditional use. Contact City of Zephyrhills Planning Department at 813-780-0201 or visit www.ci.zephyrhills.fl.us/

2. Name the Business – You must select a name for your business, and then file a fictitious name statement in a local newspaper (Legal Notice must run 3 days). You must also open a bank account for the business. 

3. Determine the Business Entity – The requirements for business registration depend on the type of business ownership. The most common forms of business entities are: Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, Limited Liability Company, and a Corporation. Consult an attorney or research yourself by contacting the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations at http://sunbiz.org and click on "Starting a Business". 

4. Obtain a Federal Employee Identification Number – If you have employees or are a corporation, you will need a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the Federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN): Applying for an EIN is a free service offered by the Internal Revenue Service, visit: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online for more information

5. Register Your Business with the State – The Florida Division of Corporations requires all business entities to be registered in order to do business in the State of Florida. It is also required registration of Fictitious Names and Trademarks. Registration with the State of Florida is an easy process and may be done online. For more information regarding the registration of your business or to file with the State, visit: Sunbiz.org

6. Apply for County and City Business Tax Receipts – All businesses must have a valid business tax receipt from the city and the county in order to do business within the City limits. These licenses must be renewed annually by September 30th and a license tax must be paid. A new Business Tax Receipt must also be obtained if the business transfers location or ownership, or if a separate branch location of the same business opens. The application process will actually assist you in ensuring that all requirements have been met for your location, including the appropriate zoning for your type of business. 

The following information is required to apply for a Business Tax Receipt: 

1. Application signed and notarized. 

2. Pasco County Business Tax Receipt. 

3. Copy of lease agreement. 

4. Fictitious Name Registration. 

5. Sales Tax Number (Certificate of Registration) if business will collect sales tax. 

For more information regarding Pasco County Business Tax Receipt, please contact the Pasco County Tax Collector at http://pascotaxes.com or call 352-521-4360. For information regarding City of Zephyrhills Business Tax Receipt, please contact the Building Department at 813-780-0020. 

Other Permits – Depending upon your type of business, permits from other agencies may be required. For example, any business storing, handling, selling or serving food or drink must obtain a permit from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) or the Pasco County Health Department. Any business selling or serving alcoholic beverages must obtain a license from the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. 

Finding the Right Location for Your Business 

Determine your type of business 

This should include all of the functions of your business in order to ensure the location is appropriate for performing all of your business’ operations. An example would be an auto parts retail store that also rebuilds engines: a retail location may be appropriate for parts sales, but not for auto repair. You must have a business address to apply for a business tax receipt. 

Factors to consider 

Many factors must be considered in the selection of the appropriate location for your business. For retail businesses, this includes proximity to customers, cost to buy vs. lease, visibility, access to parking, proximity to complimentary businesses, etc. For a manufacturer, other factors may be more important such as the availability of skilled labor and convenient truck access. The key is finding a location that satisfies all of these criteria and is properly zoned for your business. 

Whom should I speak to first? 

The City’s Planning Division can verify that a particular location is properly "zoned" or allowed for your business. "Zoning" refers to the division of the city into various districts. The rules for each zoning district are outlined in the Land Development Regulations (the "zoning code"). It is recommended that you check with the Planning Division before entering into any lease or contract to purchase. Zoning regulations vary from city to city, so do not assume that your business will be appropriate in a zone by the same name in a different community. 

How can I find locations? 

After meeting with the Planning Division to determine the appropriate zones, which permit your type of business, you can use the City of Zephyrhills’s website to determine if potential locations are zoned for your business type. Another method is to work with a commercial real estate broker who can assist with finding an appropriate location. 

Regulatory Considerations

Now that you have defined your type of business and found some potential locations, you are ready to seek zoning approvals. 

Zoning 

A planner in the Planning Division can provide a free consultation for you in determining if your business is permitted at the location you desire. The planner will also review with you any zoning conditions, parking requirements or other types of approvals which may be required. 

Conditional Use (CU) 

Some uses in certain zoning districts require review and approval of a Conditional Use (CU). The purpose of the CU is to ensure businesses are compatible with the surrounding uses. Typically, a CU is required for businesses that have the potential to create noise, odors, or specific parking or traffic impacts. The CU process is designed to insure that potentially impacted neighbors are both informed of and provided an opportunity to comment on the proposed business. 

Parking 

The amount of parking required by the City of Zephyrhills is determined by the type of business and geographic locations and is outlined in the Land Development Regulations. Some portions of downtown are classified as "parking exempt", meaning that the provision of on-site parking is not required by the business or owner. Alternative parking options may be explored to achieve required parking spaces. The Planning Division can assist you in determining the specific parking standard for your business. 

Signs

Do I need a sign permit? 

Yes. Your business will need a sign permit for new permanent signs or for changing the face of existing signs. All signs are reviewed by the Building Division. It is a good idea to check with the Building Division about what the regulations are before designing your sign. 

What types of signs are permitted? 

Allowable sign types and sizes are based upon zoning districts. Off-premises signage is prohibited.
The following sign types are those which are generally allowed within the City: 

  • Wall sign 
    A sign applied or attached to a wall. The display surface is parallel to the wall. 
  • Ground sign 
    A sign which is supported by structures or supports in or upon the ground and independent of support from any building. 
  • Projecting Sign 
    A building sign projecting perpendicular from and supported by a wall of a building. These signs may not extend more than thirty-six (36) inches from the face of the wall. 
  • Window sign
    A sign which is attached to the interior or exterior of the window, no more than 25% of window can be covered. 
  • Directional sign 
    A sign located at the exit or entrance of a premise that had two or more driveways. 
  • Hanging sign 
    A sign attached to and hanging vertically from an overhang, awning, arcade, or structural canopy of a building.

How do I design a sign? 

Typically, you will hire a sign company to design and manufacture your business signs. The Land Development Regulations contain the basic regulations for location and maximum size for each permanent sign type. The Community Redevelopment Area includes design standards which must be considered when designing signage. Signage Grants may be available to provide matching grant funds for sign fabrication and installation. A planner with the Planning Division can assist you in identifying whether or not your business is in one of these areas. 

Do I need a Building Permit? 

Yes. Most signs require a building permit. Plans and specifications, usually prepared by the sign company, must be submitted for plan check with the City’s Building Permit Division. Building code regulations will govern the proper method of attaching the sign to the building as well as any electrical wiring which may be required for sign illumination. 

Can I have a Temporary Sign? 

Yes, you may have a temporary sign for a maximum of 30 days. Balloons, Feather Banners, Flags, and Wind Sock Banners are prohibited. 

Can I have an A-Frame Sign on the sidewalk? 

Sidewalk signs are only allowed in Downtown zoning districts and are subject to permitting and design standards. General regulations include the allowance of one (1) sidewalk sign per ground floor retail business to be placed in front of the business premises during business hours. Signs are only allowed where the sidewalk or pedestrian walkway width allows and may not interfere with exits, fire hydrants, bike racks, sidewalk or wheelchair ramps, etc. Please call the Planning Division for more information (813) 780-0000. 

Utilities and Garbage Collection

Electric Service 

The City of Zephyrhills electric provider is Duke Energy, for more information regarding service please contact www.duke-energy.com.

Water, Sewer, and Garbage Collection 

Please email contact.center@gwfathom.com with the following information: 

Once the documents have been submitted, please call the Customer Care Line at 844-739-4959. 

Customer Care will arrange service within 24 hours. 

Opening a Restaurant

RESTAURANT GUIDE

Thank you for choosing the City of Zephyrhills to open your restaurant! Opening a restaurant is a significant undertaking which requires vision, cooperation, hard-work and patience. To help in the process, we have created this page as a guide as well as a checklist. The information is intended to show you what you will need to open a restaurant in our great city! In addition to the requirements outlined in the Business Start-Up Guide, the following is required for restaurants: 

PLEASE TAKE NOTE:
Prior to choosing your location, contact the Planning Department, 813-780-0000. They will help you determine the exact zoning specifications for your prospective site and will provide information on what will need to be done, if anything, to the site in order to meet regulations for your specific business needs. 

Licenses and Permits for Opening a Restaurant 

If you are opening a new restaurant in Florida or are the new owner of an existing restaurant, you are required by law to obtain a business license from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants before you can begin operation. Phone 850-487-1395, website: www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/hotels-restaurants/

Food Service Plan Review 

This requirement is applicable to (1) new restaurants, (2) remodeled restaurants, (3) re-opened restaurants that have been closed for at least one year and (4) restaurants that have been converted from another use. You must submit a food service plan to the Division of Hotels and Restaurants (DHR) for approval. For new restaurants, it is recommended that you submit the plan prior to construction to avoid costly modifications. 

Application Forms 

You must complete the appropriate application forms on the DHR website. If your restaurant will be serving alcohol, you will need to apply for a liquor license. If you have taken over an existing restaurant, you must apply to have the liquor license transferred to you. 

License Fees 

You will pay a license fee based on the type of food service operation you have and the number of seats. The DHR has a food service fee calculator on its website to help you determine the fee amount. 

Sales Tax Registration 

You must obtain a sales tax registration number from the Department of Revenue or obtain proof of exemption prior to opening. 

Employer Identification Number (EIN). All businesses must register for an EIN or tax ID number. 

Inspection 

All restaurants are required to pass a safety and sanitation inspection before opening. You will need to contact the DHR directly to schedule an inspection. 

Obtaining a Liquor License (If applicable) 

If your restaurant will be serving alcoholic beverages, you must obtain a liquor license from the Florida DBPR. 

Develop a Business Plan 

How to incorporate, securing start-up financing, marketing plans, pricing strategies, budgets and money management are just a few of the areas you will need to figure out before committing to a successful plan for a restaurant. There are many resources to help you develop your business plan, contact the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce for more information. Phone-813-782-1913 info@zephyrhillschamber.org.