Open a Business

graphic with text and image of downtown summit and city of summit seal

Welcome from Summit Mayor Nora Radest

Your business belongs in Summit

Summit has many unique assets, including its location as a transportation hub with direct rail access into New York City, and its role as a pharmaceutical research, high-tech, financial and small business destination for northern New Jersey.  

With more than 22,000 residents and nearly 18,000 people who commute into the city to work each day, Summit is a great place to live, work and do business.

Graphic reading summit demographics
Graphic reading professional organizations helping developing businesses

If your business is located in our Central Retail Business District (CRBD), Summit Downtown, Inc. can provide resources to helplogo for summit downtown inc Opens in new window make it a success. 

Summit Downtown, Inc. (SDI) is a non-profit organization that manages the day-to-day operations of downtown Summit and represents and assists new and existing businesses. SDI is governed by a 14-member Board of Trustees comprised of downtown business owners, commercial property owners, a community resident, members of Summit Common Council, the Mayor, and City Administrator.

The organization is funded by a special assessment levied on the properties within the designated downtown area. Those assessment revenues are dedicated to benefit the downtown and the City of Summit. SDI promotes the downtown and the business community by advertising and marketing throughout the year and organizing events to attract visitors and residents downtown. Those events include some virtual events through social media, Summit Restaurant Week, Family Fun Night, Cars & Croissants, Summit Street Sounds, Arts + Cars Festival, Downtown Trick-or-Treat, Small Business Saturday & Holiday Events including music and horse & carriage rides. SDI also runs the popular Summit Farmers Market, now in its 30th year and drawing an average of 4,000 people to the downtown area every Sunday morning April through December.

SDI encourages those interested in finding a location for a business in the downtown to contact them as early as possible in the process. SDI is able to advise on available properties and provide advice and guidance; SDI may also know sites that are currently leased but may become available. Visit the SDI website to learn more, or contact SDI by phone or email:, 908-277-6100.

suburban chamber of commerce logo Opens in new windowThe Suburban Chamber of Commerce provides support to area businesses, working together to build a healthy economy and improve the quality of life in our community. The Chamber represents the communities of Summit, New Providence, and Berkeley Heights.

The Chamber provides the following support to members:

  • Networking opportunities at events and meetings;
  • Advertising opportunities with The Summit Collection and Chamber mailings;
  • Client referrals to business clients and residents;
  • Business education seminars and workshops; and
  • Promotional opportunities such as Chamber trade shows, retail promotions, and community activities.

City staff is here to support you as you establish your new business. It is important to contact city departments as early as possible in the process to avoid any potential delays.

graphic that reads working with city departments with image of city hall in the background

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Summit business flowchart

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Doing Business in Summit checklist

The City of Summit is dedicated to helping you navigate city requirements for establishing your new business. This process includes compliance with local ordinances and the completion of necessary applications before you open your doors to the public.

banner with DCS logo and the words zoning approval

Step 1: Zoning Use/Approval

Depending on the type of business you are planning to open, prior zoning approval may be required by the Zoning Officer before building permits can be issued or you can open your business.

Whether you are buying a building, taking over an existing business, starting a new type of business, making modest renovations, or doing major construction, it is essential that you refer to Summit’s Development Regulations Ordinance (DRO) which govern development and zoning rules within the city. The DRO is a keyword searchable (Crtl F) PDF document to facilitate finding your specific content/topic quickly.  

Some important questions the DRO will help answer as you consider your new business include but are not limited to:

  • Is your new proposed business the same type of business existing in your proposed location or is it a change of use?
  • Is the new business type you are proposing permitted in the zone in which the property is located?
  • Does the minimum number of parking space count required for your business type already exist at your proposed location?

NOTE: It is not advisable to take action (e.g. sign a lease, buy property) or submit a construction / license application before consulting with the Zoning Office on your business type and location. Spending time and money on a new business only to discover you are not permitted to open your business type where you want can be enormously wasteful.  As well, some new businesses proposed for zones outside of the Central Retail Business District (CRBD) may require site plan approval.

Official zoning review occurs upon submission of a construction permit application (with the Department of Community Services) or a business license application submission (with the Clerk’s Office) and serves as a prior approval. The Zoning Officer is one of the first city officials to review your construction or license application and only after zoning approval is granted does a construction permit application or business license application advance to the building or other departments for review.

Please refer to Summit’s Development Regulations Ordinance (DRO) for answers to these questions and more. Upon review of the DRO, please call the Planning & Zoning office at (908) 273-6407 for additional questions.


If you plan to add a new permanent sign or change an existing one, a construction permit (including zoning review) is required. The only exception to the construction permit requirement is temporary signs, for a period of no more than 30 days within a 120-day period. Signs must still conform to most of the other regulations for permanent signs. Sidewalk signs are allowed within regulations and with a proper permit. Specific information about the placement of these signs can be found in the DRO Appendix D.

Department: Community Services
Division: Planning & Zoning
Phone: (908) 273-6407

banner with DCS logo and the words construction permit

Step 2: Construction Permit

If you are planning on doing construction, it is necessary to obtain a construction permit. Construction permits are required for most demolition, renovations, building alterations, or if you plan to hang a new sign. You should also check for any existing open permits at the property at the time of application for new permits. Open permits can delay approvals including necessary business licenses issued by the City Clerk’s office (e.g. retail food, sidewalk café, etc.).

NOTE: If your business or improvement is related to a:

  • retail food establishment

  • kennel

  • pool

  • tanning

  • permanent cosmetics

  • tattoo/piercing

  • well or septic system

Prior approval from and separate fee paid to the Health Department is required. For these types of improvements, contact the Westfield Health Department at (908) 789-4040 or to schedule a review of your plans/application. The Health Department must approve/sign the back of the construction jacket BEFORE your application can be submitted for zoning and building review.

The DCS Document Center contains samples and other construction forms to view.  All 4-ply permit application forms can be found in the DCS lobby on the second floor of City Hall. The Permit Submittal Chart lists some of the common projects and what paperwork is needed for a complete application. For more tips, view our construction permit process video. Please note that at minute 1:20 of the video, the parts of the DRO referred to have changed from Articles 8 & 9 to Article 3.

Upon review, please call the Construction office at (908) 273-6408 for additional questions.

If a construction dumpster is required on the street in front of your new business location, a permit is required (permits are not required if the dumpster is on your location property). Contact Parking Services at 908-522-5100 to learn more about fees and application procedure. More info is available here.

NOTE: Upon approval and release of your permit, immediately proceed to STEP 3: Zoning Certificate of Occupancy (ZCO) to begin the ZCO process. DO NOT wait until you complete your construction before applying for your required ZCO. 

Department: Community Services
Division: Construction
Phone: (908) 273-6408

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banner with DCS logo and the words zoning certificates of occupancy

Step 3: Zoning Certificate of Occupancy (ZCO)

A Zoning Certificate of Occupancy (ZCO) is required for EVERY property sale or rental of property as well as every change of tenant, occupant, or occupancy type. The ZCO process ensures all life safety and code issues are addressed BEFORE a new tenant or owner occupies a space.

If you are a new business, this includes you.

ZCOs should not be confused with a Construction Certificate of Occupancy (CCO) or a Construction Certificate of Approval (CCA) both of which are the last step of the construction permitting process. Construction Certificates of Occupancy are required before occupancy if a building or space is significantly modified by construction or if a new building is constructed. 

On the other hand, a ZCO must be obtained prior to a new owner or tenant occupying a property and requires both an application, fee payment, and on-site inspection. These must be completed, paid for, and scheduled in advance of opening a business. These ZCO actions can be carried out at the DCS counter on the second floor of City Hall. 

While ZCOs are required for residences, condos, apartments and or other types of dwelling units, they are also required for commercial usage including stores, offices, industrial, and/or commercial or other business buildings. If you are not fully compliant with the requirements necessary to obtain a Zoning Certificate of Occupancy, you may request a temporary certificate provided the problems do not create a safety hazard. More about the Zoning Certificate of Occupancy and an application can be found on the ZCO web page or by calling (908) 273-6408.

Department: Community Services
Division: Planning & Zoning
Phone: (908) 273-6407

banner with check mark graphic and the word licenses

Many types of businesses and business activities require a license to operate in the City of Summit. The Summit Clerk’s Office is the first point of contact and manager of this licensing process. License types include but are not limited to:

  • Retail Food
  • Dance Schools
  • Kennels, Pet Shops, and Pounds
  • Taxi/Limo
  • Peddler
  • Liquor
  • Sidewalk Cafes
  • Outdoor dining
  • Parklets

PLEASE NOTE: Food establishments are required to be licensed and are the most common. Any establishment selling food or drink, to be consumed on or off the premises, with or without seating, must apply with the appropriate fee, and be inspected by the Health Department, Department of Community Services (DCS) and the Fire Department. 

For more information on food related licensing and inspections, visit the Westfield Health Department's food licensing web page or call (908) 789-4070.

Department: City Clerk's Office
Division: n/a
Phone: (908) 273-6400

banner that reads health department

Depending on what type of business you want to open, additional permits, licenses, and/or fees may be required (see list below). After submitting a relevant license to the Clerk's Office (see list above), a member of the Health Department will contact you to let you know what additional items are necessary.

NOTE: If your business or improvement is related to a:

  • retail food establishment

  • kennel

  • pool

  • tanning

  • permanent cosmetics

  • tattoo/piercing

  • well or septic system

prior approval from and separate fee paid to the Health Department is required.  For these types of improvements, contact the Westfield Health Department at (908) 789-4040 or to schedule a review of your plans/application.  The Health Department must approve/sign the back of the construction jacket BEFORE your application can be submitted for zoning and building review.

All food establishments must be inspected and applicable fees paid before the Health Department will issue the retail food license.

The Westfield Regional Health Department performs inspections of retail food establishments, which are conducted on a semi-annual basis. The inspections are to determine compliance with Chapter 24 of the New Jersey State Sanitary Code, as well as with local ordinances and regulations.

Classes are also offered to retail food establishment personnel to teach methods of safe food handling. Contact the Westfield Regional Health Department by phone or email to register.

The New Jersey Department of Health oversees food safety and its website offers a checklist to help businesses maintain food safety.

Department: Westfield Regional Health Department
Division: n/a
Phone: 908-789-4070

banner with the words alarm registration and the police department logo

Does the proposed location of your new business have a registered fire and/or burglar alarm?

Local ordinance requires that all fire and burglar alarm systems be registered with the City of Summit. Information provided as part of the registration process for your fire and burglar alarm is essential for the City’s emergency forces when responding to an alarm.

If you have questions, including the status of your address as a renewal or initial registrant, you may contact the Summit PD Records Bureau Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30AM and 4PM (4:30PM during summer hours, Memorial Day to Labor Day).

Department: Police
Division: Records Bureau
Phone: (908) 277-9396

banner with the words fire prevention and the fire department logo

The Fire Prevention Bureau maintains over 900 records of buildings, structures, and multi-family units in the city. Some of the buildings are designated by the State of New Jersey, Division of Fire Safety as Life Hazard Use (LHU) structures. Under city ordinance, the Summit Fire Department uses the NJ Fire Safety Code N.J.A.C. 5:70 as the tool for gaining compliance regarding fire safety issues. A hard copy of this code is available at the Summit Free Public Library.

The owner of all businesses, occupancies, buildings, structures, or premises required to be inspected under Section 19A.12.1 shall apply annually to the Local Enforcing Agency for a Certificate of Registration upon forms provided by the Fire Official. It shall be a violation of this ordinance for any owner to fail to return such forms to the Local Enforcing Agency and/or Fire Official within thirty (30) days of receipt. 19A13.2

Please contact the Fire Prevention Bureau to discuss the status of your location and the status of your location’s compliance.

Department: Fire
Division: Fire Prevention
Phone: 908-277-9358

banner with the words employee parking permit and the parking services agency logo

Employees who work in the downtown business district can park in designated municipal lots and garages. A downtown employee permit is required. Register for a permit using the new online digital permitting payment system. Employee permits cost $10 per permit which requires an affidavit signed by the landlord or manager of place of employment. Once an employee has a permit, they must pay for parking each day. Employees over the age of 62 can apply for a senior permit (proper ID required) for $5. The daily parking fee is $4.

Department: Parking
Division: n/a
Phone: (908) 552-5100

banner with recycling symbol and the words trash and recycling collection

Collection Guidelines

Stakeholder type Trash Comingled/Mixed Paper Recycling Cardboard Recycling
Business -Curbside collection 1 business day per week
80-gallon allowance per week
-Can purchase coupons to use Transfer Station
-Must contract on your own with private vendor (no city collection)
-Can use recycling center (6-month pass required)
Can schedule pickup through DPW
CRBD Business (see map) Collection 7 days a week 
(Mon-Fri: SID tax & Sat-Sun: Clean Communities Grant)
-Must contract on your own with private vendor (no city collection)
-Can use recycling center (6-month pass required)
-Can use drop-off CRBD recycling bins*
Can schedule pickup through DPW
map of recycling bins

* Multi-compartment recycling bins for use by CRBD businesses are in downtown Summit at the following locations:

  • One (1) in each of the Park and Shop lots on DeForest Ave. (Three [3] total)
  • One (1) adjacent to the ground level of the tiered parking garage on Springfield Ave. on block between Maple St. and Woodland Rd. behind shops.
  • One (1) outside the train station on Union Place.

Summit Business Recycling


Because it's the law! Pursuant to both state law and local ordinance, all places of business are required to recycle. In addition, Summit receives state grant money in proportion to the amount of material it recycles.

What must be recycled?

  • Mixed Paper (Includes newspapers, magazines, catalogs, junk mail, colored and white paper)
  • Plastic (items coded 1,2, and 5 ONLY)), cans (aluminum and steel), glass bottles and jars--comingled
  • Corrugated Cardboard
  • Computers/Electronics (Includes computers, printers, keyboards, monitors, TVs, phones, faxes, copiers)
  • Batteries (Only rechargeable and button batteries; alkaline batteries should be thrown in trash)
  • Fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Styrofoam (Includes white packing material, excluding packing peanuts and food containers)

In addition to general recycling of the business, all places of business must have recycling bins available to employees and customers (especially applicable to locations where bottled or canned drinks are consumed onsite).

Where Can I Recycle?

Paper, plastic, cans and glass may be recycled in any of the five (5) multi-compartment containers located in downtown Summit (see above for map). Please note that the individual receptacles on the street are not intended for use by businesses.

Electronics, batteries, bulbs and styrofoam may be taken to the Transfer Station or to an NJDEP-approved recycling facility accepting these items. You may pick up a free renewable 6-month pass for the Transfer Station at City Hall.

Cardboard may be taken to the Transfer Station if it is not picked up by the city. You may pick up a free renewable 6-month pass for the Transfer Station at City Hall.

You can arrange for pickup by the recycling vendor that collects residential recycling in Summit. For more information, call the Department of Community Services at (908) 273-6404. Please note that materials for pickup may not be left at the curb or on the sidewalk.

You can arrange for pickup by a private hauler of your choosing. Please note that materials for pickup may not be left at the curb or on the sidewalk and need to be placed in a watertight can with lid.

Reporting Requirements

No reporting is necessary if you use the city bins located downtown or if you take your recycling to the Transfer Station.

If you use a private hauler, you are responsible for submitting a yearly report to the city (due within 60 days of the end of the year) which lists the name and contact information of your hauler; reports the amount of recycling picked up (by weight); and identifies the NJDEP-approved facility to which the recycling was taken. Your hauler should be able to provide you with that information.


By state law, businesses must separate recycling from garbage. However, an exemption may be available if a business can show that the mixed garbage and recycling is picked up by a private hauler who takes it to a NJDEP-approved Material Recovery Facility where it is separated later. Contact the Department of Community Services at (908) 273-6404 for more information.

Department: Community Services
Division: Public Works
Phone: (908) 273-6404

NJ state ban on single-use carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products

flyer with information on new jersey single use bag ban

Starting May 4, 2022, New Jersey retail stores, grocery stores and food service businesses may not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products. Single-use paper carryout bags are allowed to be provided or sold, except by grocery stores equal to or larger than 2500 square feet, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags. After November 4, 2021, plastic straws may be provided only upon the request of the customer.

Comments or questions?

New Jersey DEP website

(609) 984-4250

City of Summit Contact Information

Department Phone Email
City Clerk 908-273-6400
Code Administration 908-273-6408  
Community Services 908-273-6404
Fire Department 908-277-1033  
Health & Vital Statistics (Summit) 908-277-0185  
Health Department (Westfield) 908-789-4070
Parking Services 908-522-5100
Planning & Zoning 908-273-6407
Police Department 908-273-0051  
Public Works 908-273-6404
Tax Assessor 908-273-6405
Tax Collector 908-273-6403