Building & Land Alteration Permit

Building Permit

A Building Permit is required from the county Planning and Zoning office for the construction of any buildings or building additions including:

  • Decks
  • Garages
  • Porches
  • Sheds

Permits are also required for moving in any of the following:

  • Manufactured Homes
  • Pre-Fab Buildings
  • Trailer Homes

Building permits for the 11 incorporated cities within Clay County can be obtained from those city officials.


Application forms are also available at the Planning and Zoning office on the 2nd floor of the courthouse, located at:
807 11th Street N., Moorhead, MN 56560

See the Planning and Zoning Fee Schedule for fee information.

Necessary Information

Information needed to complete the application includes:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Legal Description
  • Tax Parcel Number
  • Current Use of the Property
  • Shoreland Management Data (If Site Is Within 1,000 Feet of a Lake or Within 300 Feet of a River or Stream)
  • Contractors
  • Specific Information Regarding Construction
  • A Sketch Plan of the Site

After an applicant (or authorized agent) completes the application, he/she needs to present it to one of their township officers for their signature. A list of the current township officers is available online or at the Planning and Zoning Office.

Completed Applications

A completed application, appropriately signed by the township officer(s), comes back to the Planning and Zoning Director for final action, and is processed within 10 days. Following approval, a Zoning Certificate is mailed to the applicant, to be posted in a conspicuous place on or near the construction site.


Construction must begin within 6 months from the date of issuance, and be substantially completed within 1 year, or the permit expires and further work cannot proceed until a new permit has been obtained.

Any on-site sewage treatment systems shall be inspected and certified if a building permit applicant is located in the Shoreland Zoning District (within 1,000 feet of a lake or 300 feet of a river or stream) or if the applicant is constructing or adding an addition which includes a bedroom(s). Septic System Certifications are processed through the Clay County Environmental Health Department located at:
Family Service Center
715 11th Street N.
Moorhead, Minnesota 56560

Proximity to Wells

If the building is near a well, a horizontal separation distance of 3 feet must be maintained between the farthest exterior projection of a building and a well. The Minnesota Well Code is not administered at the county level; however, the Planning and Zoning office can provide a list of licensed well drillers in the area, or an applicant may contact the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) at 800-383-9808 or visit the Clay County Environmental Health webpage. Information can also be found in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 103I.

Wells that are not in use, not properly sealed, and which do not have a maintenance permit, must be properly sealed by a licensed well contractor. The Clay County Abandoned Well Program is administered through the Soil and Water Conservation District Office, and currently has funds available for applicants who meet the criteria.

Land Alteration Permit

A Land Alteration Permit is required from the county Planning and Zoning Office for topographic alterations involving the movement of more than 10 cubic yards of material on steep slopes or within shore and bluff impacted zones, the movement of more than 50 cubic yards of material outside of steep slopes or within shore and bluff impacted zones, and/or grading or filling of type 2-8 wetlands.