Zoning Information

Zoning refers to municipal or local government laws that dictate how real property can and cannot be used in certain areas, known as "zones."  There are times where interpretation of the Town of Portsmouth's Zoning Ordinance can be somewhat of a challenge, especially for a lay-person.  Portsmouth's Zoning Enforcement Officer can assist with questions you may have.

Some of the more common questions received and their answers are shown here: 



Do I Need a Permit to Have a Yard Sale?


The town adopted an ordinance on September 8, 1980 pertaining to yard sales. The following pieces of information are what you need to know to comply with the law:

  • It is unlawful to conduct a yard sale without first obtaining a permit issued by the Portsmouth Police Department.
  • All signs must be taken down immediately at the conclusion of the yard sale. Littering fines may be assessed for old signs.
  • No person may conduct, or allow to be conducted upon their property, a yard sale more often than twice per year.
  • No yard sale for which a permit has been granted may last more than two days.
  • No yard sale may begin earlier than 8 a.m. or end later than 6 p.m.
  • PLEASE NOTE, the Portsmouth Zoning Ordinance Article IX, section 7(a), prohibits all off-premises signs (except those allowed by Special Use Permit from the Zoning Board of Review).

I Have so Many Questions About Fences!


Can my neighbor put up a fence? Where can he put it up? Does he have to get a building permit for it?

Yes, your neighbor can put up a fence on his (and your) property line without a building permit. There is a 6' height limit to the fence. Any fence higher than 6' requires a building permit.  If you are having a dispute with your neighbor about if a fence should go where it's going, Portsmouth has a Fence Viewer who will come take a look and will act as a mediator and try to help resolve the issue.

I Want a Swimming Pool - What do I Need to do?


Do I have to have a fence around my swimming pool?  Do I need to get a building permit for it?

The state building code defines a swimming pool as any structure intended for swimming or recreational bathing that is over 24-inches deep. Portsmouth's Zoning Ordinance requires your "swimming pool enclosed by a six foot fence and the pool area locked when not in use."

Depending on the size of the pool and the size of your lot, you may also need a building permit or something more. Please call the building department at 401-683-3611 to find out.