Skip to main content

Starting a Business in Cheltenham

Checklist for Establishing a Business in Cheltenham Township

Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, a Montgomery County suburb that is located minutes from Philadelphia, is committed to economic development and business growth in the Township.  Cheltenham Township has a wide variety of commercial districts, properties and established businesses.  The Township actively works to improve its commercial districts through implementing streetscape improvements and working with our businesses and residents to promote the community.  The Cheltenham Township Economic Development Task Force (EDTF) works with the Township and business community to attract new business and to expand and support existing businesses.

If you are considering starting a new business in Cheltenham Township, or if you have questions about how to open a business in the Township, we are available and ready to help.  This checklist provides an overview of steps needed to get started.

The first key first step is to contact the Cheltenham Township Planning & Zoning Department either by stopping by the Cheltenham Township Administration Building, located at 8230 Old York Road in Elkins Park, or by calling 215-887-6200, ext. 213 on Monday through Thursday, 8AM-4:30PM or Friday 8AM-3PM.  The Department’s staff will answer your questions regarding permitting, zoning and licenses, and help you get your business off and running!

Determine Type of Use:

__    Determine if the proposed use is a permitted use by right within the zoning district or if the proposed use requires a zoning variance or special exception from the Zoning Hearing Board. If it is not permitted by right, action by the Zoning Hearing Board will be required.

__    Home Based Businesses. Home businesses shall include professional services, office services, preparation of wholesale baked goods, computer application, individual instruction, sewing and embroidery, low-impact retail for the fine arts and similar quiet type uses and shall be conducted wholly indoors.

The following uses shall not be deemed a home business: retail or wholesale selling, clinic, hospital, barbershop, beauty parlor, real estate agency, insurance office, funeral home, restaurant, catering service, motel, hotel, rooming house, kennels, animal hospital, mortuary, personal service shop, day care, group home, repair, storage and/or painting of motorized vehicles, boats or lawn mowing equipment, place of amusement, dancing or other school, public storage facility and any use similar to the above.

A teacher of musical instruments shall be a permitted home business provided that the practitioner teaches only one pupil at a time.

__    Determine if there were any prior zoning variances or special exceptions granted for the property and if the proposed use can comply with the conditions of the prior Zoning Hearing Board decision (if any).

__    Determine if the building is a non-conforming (grandfathered) use. If so, determine if the proposed use meets the terms of the prior non-conforming use or if it is an expansion.

Determine Zoning Issues:

 __        Cheltenham Township’s parking requirements are as follows:


Ø      Retail/Office/Wholesale uses require at least one parking space for each 200 feet of floor area (or fraction thereof) not including basements used for specific use.

Ø      Restaurants require one parking space for every 100 square feet of gross floor area, including kitchens and storage areas. For more specific information, see Section 295-221 of the Township’s Zoning Ordinance.

__   The Township’s Zoning Ordinance also governs size, quantity, number and placement of signage. A sign permit and a Certificate of Appropriateness will be required for changes to existing signs and for any new signage.


__    If any construction, alteration, repair, removal or demolition is contemplated to the interior or exterior of an existing   building, a building permit and inspection will be required. NOTE: Property owners who start work before obtaining the required permit(s) will have to pay double the standard permit fee in addition to facing possible fines.  A construction drawing depicting the proposed alterations or tenant fit-up plan must be filed with the building permit application to the Township’s Department of Engineering, Zoning & Inspections.

__    If the building or property is located in either of the Township’s historic districts, La Mott or Wyncote, proposed changes to the exterior of the building, including changes to existing or new signage or lighting, must be reviewed by the corresponding Board of Historical and Architectural Review (BHAR).

__   The Township Zoning Officer determines if a use and re-occupancy inspection will be required for the proposed use(s).The Township Fire Marshal determines if a fire inspection and/or a sprinkler protection system are required.



__    If the proposed use is permitted by right as determined by the Zoning Officer, the next step is to obtain a license(s) from the Township’s Finance Department.

Ø      A Mercantile License is required for a retail, wholesale, or restaurant business.

Ø      A Business Privilege License is required for service businesses such as physicians, lawyers, dentists, accountants, etc., or for any work performed on a commission-basis or a home business.

__   Restaurants and other food handling establishments require a license from the Montgomery County Health Department. Contact the department 215-784-5415 to request a Plan Review Packet. Once the packet is completed, call again for a Plan Review Coordinator who must approve the plan before a license will be issued.

New Construction:

__  If the proposed use requires the construction of a new building, then the site design and planning standards set forth in the Township’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance need to be followed. An applicant must submit a professionally engineered site plan and subdivision application to the Township’s Department of Engineering, Zoning & Inspections for review and approval.


Contractor Registration:

__  Contractor registration provisions and registration fees depend on the type of license held.

__  All electricians, plumbers, HVAC contractors, journeyman and apprentices must be licensed annually by the Township’s Department of Planning & Zoning.


Township Contacts:

Bryan T. Havir, Township Manager, 215-887-1000, ext. 112

  • Cheltenham Township Main Street
  • Commercial District Enhancement Plan
  • Economic Development Task Force
  • Historic Preservation

Henry Sekawungu, Director of Planning & Zoning, 215-887-1000, ext. 213

Robert Habgood, Assistant to the Director of Planning & Zoning
267-809-1811 or 215-887-6200, ext. 213

  • Use & Occupancy Permits and Inspection
  • Zoning Hearing Board Determinations & Information
  • Sign Permits
  • Building Permits & Inspections
  • Plumbing Permits & Inspections
  • Electrical Permits & Inspections
  • Contractor License & Registration
  • La Mott and Wyncote Historic District Boards of Historical and Architectural Review (BHARs)
  • Fee Schedules for all required permits and inspections

Joseph W. O'Neill, Fire Marshal, 215-887-6200, ext. 235

  • Fire Inspection (including potential sprinkler requirements)

Bruce Rangnow, Director of Fiscal Affairs, 215-887-6200, ext. 149

  • Mercantile and Business Privilege Licenses


Business Resource Information

The Township has copies of permits that were previously issued to specific properties. Please contact the Township’s Department of Planning & Zoning for more information.

Cheltenham Township's full Municipal Code is available on the web.

Building Code Chapter 110
Plumbing and Mechanical Code Chapter 209
Electrical Code Chapter 135
Fire Prevention Code Chapter 151
Zoning District Classifications Chapter 295
Home Businesses Chapter 295
Signage Regulations Chapter 295
Highlights by District

To open a restaurant in Cheltenham Township:

Contact the Montgomery County Health Department Willow Grove office at 215-784-5415 to request a Plan Review Packet. Once that packet is completed, call again to request a Plan Review Coordinator.  Once the Plan is approved, a Health Department License should be issued. 

Cheltenham Township   ~   8230 Old York Road   ~   Elkins Park, PA 19027
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8AM-4:30PM
Phone: 215-887-1000   ~   Fax: 215-887-1561
Site Map   |   Contact Us   |   Disclaimer   |   Powered by MunicipalCMS
Sign up for enews Facebook Get our RSS feeds