Minor Encroachments

Minor Encroachments - Standard Detail Drawings

Encroachments are defined as the use, placement, or extension of private uses into, upon, over, or under public space or publicly-owned property. 

Minor Encroachments are defined as uses of mostly temporary or minor nature, posing little long-term physical impact on public space and which can be removed with relative ease if desired. The standards herein apply to the following minor encroachments: Outdoor Merchandise

  1. Awnings
  2. Exterior Building and Accent Lighting
  3. Projecting Signs
  4. A-Frame Signs

Standards for All Minor Encroachments:

Minor encroachments cannot be placed, connected, attached, fastened, installed, used, erected, or maintained in public space without the appropriate permits. To be approved, any minor encroachment must meet the following standards:

  • cannot be easily sited on the private property due to physical constraints,
  • must not block access to public street furniture and other amenities
  • must not locate:
  1. within 5 feet of public signs, utility boxes / vaults, or areas regularly serviced by city departments;
  2. within 5 foot radius of any building corner adjacent to a street intersection;
  3. within 5 foot radius of tree grates;
  4. within 5 feet of a fire hydrant;
  5. at any location where unobstructed passage for pedestrian traffic is reduced to less than 5 feet (7 feet on Fayetteville Street). Where existing obstructions are present (such as fire hydrants), the corridor can be measured to go around these obstructions. For tree grates, the corridor is measured from the outer edge of the grate, unless an ADA-compliant grate is installed, in which case the 5 feet can be measured directly from the tree trunk.

CAUTION: Special Care Is Required

Around City Street Trees:

Trees planted on City property within the Downtown Overlay District and on Fayetteville Street represent an asset that is collectively owned and maintained by the City of Raleigh for the benefit of all. Maintenance activities will not be permitted or undertaken that will negatively impact the uniformity of a streetscape or the health of the trees. Maintenance activities undertaken by City of Raleigh staff on city owned trees are limited to procedures intended to provide minimum clearances around streetlights, traffic signals and signs, and for pedestrian and vehicular passage. Other categories of pruning would be for clearance of rooflines and facades, and for the removal of dead, broken, or crossed branches. All pruning must be done in strict accordance with City standards. Those wishing to undertake maintenance activities on city-owned trees within the DOD trees must first obtain a Vegetative Impact Permit from the Urban Forester (contact 919-872-4115) and must abide by all conditions detailed therein. Permit requests may be denied if the health of the tree or the appearance of the streetscape would be negatively impacted by the proposed activity. No private maintenance activities will be permitted on city-owned trees on Fayetteville Street.

NOTE: Minor Encroachments which are part of building facade improvements may qualify for Façade Grant assistance.

The City's Façade Rehabilitation Grant Program helps businesses and property owners in downtown and nearby older commercial areas upgrade and improve their building's exterior appearance to create an attractive environment for innovations and business activities. Qualifying improvements include removal of false fronts (such as aluminum panels), repair or replacement of windows, doors and cornices, repair or replacement of façade materials, signage, awnings, exterior lighting, exterior painting (when part of a larger rehab effort) and architectural projections that are within 2 feet of the façade of the building. For more information on the Façade Grant Program, see Appendix Section 6.

All Minor Encroachment Permits are issued at the DSCSC.  Minor Encroachment permits are issued one-time and serve as a blanket for all types of Minor Encroachments listed in this Handbook, except for outdoor merchandise, which requires annual renewal permits. Façade Grant Permits are issued at the Raleigh Urban Design Center (contact 919-807-8482 for more information).

Minor Encroachment Permit Application

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Awnings & Exterior Lighting

Projecting & A-frame Signs
Sign Permits

Planning and Development
Service Categories:
Permits - Zoning
Related Services:
Sign Permit