Permits and Regulations


Alabama is a one-stop state for environmental permitting. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management administers the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Click to visit the ADEM website.  No additional regulations or requirements are imposed by state or local governments.

Air:  Etowah County is in compliance with federal ambient air quality standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency. There are no Class I air quality maintenance areas nearby.

If your project requires an air permit, the average length of time it takes is 60-120 days following submission of a completed application. The major steps are: pre-application conference, application submission, technical review and compliance determination, recommendation of permit issuance, public comment period, public hearing (if needed), evaluation of comments and final permit decision.  VOC emissions in excess of 250 TPD require a PSD permit and BACT will apply.

Wastewater:  If your project will discharge 25,000 GPD or more into a municipal sanitary sewer system, federal law requires you to obtain a State Indirect Discharge Permit.

Stormwater runoff:  In accordance with EPA's NPDES Phase II requirements, a stormwater runoff permit is required if a development exceeds one or more acres.  The application fee in the City of Gadsden is $25.00.  Stormwater management regulations can be found here, and the land disturbance permit application is here.

Hazardous wastes:  The permit fee for a small-quantity hazardous waste generator is $100 per year.  Companies are responsible for obtaining an EPA identification number from ADEM; for the proper accumulation, transportation and disposal of hazardous wastes; and for recordkeeping.  Click here for complete information.


No building permits are required in unincorporated portions of Etowah County. Most municipalities do require building permits. The City of Gadsden Building Department typically approves site plans in one day and building plans within five days. The city follows the guidelines set forth in the 2015 International Building Code, 2015 International Plumbing Code, 2015 International Mechanical Code, 2015 International Fuel Gas Code, 2015 International Fire Code, and 2014 National Electrical Code.

Click here for more details, and here for permit information. Most industrial sites are in an enterprise zone, allowing a 50% reduction in building permit fees.

Building contractors must be licensed by the Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors, and file proof of a general liability insurance policy, including products and completed operations coverage, with minimum limits of $100,000 for personal injury, death and property damage.  Contractors and subcontractors also must have proof of enrollment in the federal E-verify program.


Property in unincorporated portions of Etowah County is not zoned. Most municipalities have zoning ordinances. In Gadsden, for example, industrial property is zoned either I-1 (Light Industrial) or I-2 (Heavy Industrial). In both cases, setbacks are 25 feet/7.62 meters in the front and 15 feet/4.57 meters in the sides and rear; the maximum building coverage of the site is 75%; and at least 10% of the site must consist of green vegetated areas. The parking standard is one space per peak shift employee.

Examples of uses permitted by right in I-1 zones are: assembly, printing, cabinet making, mattress manufacturing, and orthopedic brace production.  Examples of uses permitted by right in I-2 zones are: air products, chemicals, insulation, rubber, metal ingot and glass manufacturing.  Examples of uses permitted by right in both zones are: tool manufacturing, welding shop, plastics fabrication, gasket production and metal products machining.


For property zoned I-1 or I-2, no person shall operate or cause to be operated any source of sound in such a manner as to create a sound level which exceeds a one-hour average sound level limit of 75 dB(A) when measured at the property boundary of the receiving land use.

Safety And Health

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has jurisdiction in Alabama; there are no additional state, county or city regulations.


Alabama is a Right to Work state. There are no state or local wage and hour laws, other than for child labor. There are no state or local regulations pertaining to family and medical leave, but companies must provide paid time off to full-time employees called to jury duty.

The state requires employers to enroll in the federal E-verify program.  The state also requires employers to notify the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs of reductions of more than 50 jobs, or of more than a third of the employees in one location.

Workers' Compensation

All companies that have more than four full-time or part-time employees in Alabama are required to have workers' compensation insurance. There are five ways to meet this regulation: (1) buy insurance from an approved commercial workers' compensation carrier, (2) purchase insurance through the Assigned Risk Pool, (3) provide coverage through a group self-insurance fund, (4) individually self-insure if qualified, or (5) obtain an alternative workers' compensation policy from an authorized insurance carrier.  For more information, see the Department of Labor's website.