Bring zoning applications for administrative actions or public hearings to Town Hall. Feel free to contact staff in advance for pre-application meetings, or for further explanation of all of the following processes.
If you need a written statement of the uses allowed on a piece of property and the zoning that currently applies, you can request a zoning verification letter (or “ZVL”) that will provide that information. You can request a ZVL by submitting an application and providing any supporting information (like a boundary survey) that might be relevant to the questions.
Request an administrative interpretation of the land development code, not a ZVL, to answer a question where you are uncertain about how the land development code applies to a situation.
If you have a question you would like answered about the general application of specific provisions of the Land Development Code (LDC) or about the application of specific LDC provisions to one or more specific pieces of property, you can apply for an administrative interpretation of the LDC using the administrative action form and the LDC interpretation supplementary form. An administrative interpretation is a written finding that can be appealed to the Town Council.
Several other zoning decisions can be made administratively in some circumstances. If you need to apply for zoning approval of a commercial antenna location, a forced relocation of a business, an administrative setback variance, a minimum use determination, alcoholic beverage consumption on premises, or an amendment to a planned development, inquire with Town Community Development Staff at Town Hall for direction on your specific project. To apply for any of these administrative actions, use the administrative action form and the appropriate supplemental form.
Reaching the final outcome of your request for an administrative action generally requires a series of actions on the part of Town staff, and sometimes by you as the applicant:
· Staff reviews the application and supplementary material you provide to determine if the information is sufficient to form the basis for the decision that you have requested be made, or if more information is necessary. The information that is usually necessary is specified in the application and in the regulations related to your specific request.
· Following a review of the substance of the matter you raise in your application, staff prepares a resolution that will form a written record of the action taken in response to your request.
· Once drafted, the resolution is reviewed by the Town Attorney for legal sufficiency, and if necessary, corrected, then signed to indicate that the administrative action described in it has been completed.
The speed of this process depends upon the completeness of your application, the availability of staff to complete the reviews and any additional research needed and to draft the resolution, and the availability of the Town Attorney. From application to signed resolution the process usually takes between 4 and 8 weeks.
Any administrative action may be appealed to the Town Council unless the LDC specifies otherwise. The application to appeal uses the public hearing application and the corresponding supplemental form.
Many decisions can only be made by the Town Council through public hearings. To apply, use the application for public hearing form and the appropriate supplemental form, as follows. In general, it is best to speak to Town Community Development Staff to determine which procedure to follow.
The LDC allows some land uses only if granted a special exception, which is a public hearing process that allows the Town Council to weigh the appropriateness of the requested use on a case-by-case basis and attach conditions that may be necessary to mitigate the impacts on the neighborhood.
A variance is a departure from the exact provisions of the LDC or any other Town ordinance that provides setbacks, lot dimensions, building heights, open space or buffering requirements, parking or loading requirements, floor area ratio, design, landscaping, or similar regulations. Variances may be granted by the Town Council through public hearings, but may not involve the actual use of property, procedural requirements, or definitions.
There are two types of rezonings, both of which use the application for public hearing and the corresponding supplemental form:
A conventional rezoning changes the zoning for a specific property or group of properties from the present zoning to another of the Town’s standard zoning districts.
A planned development rezoning rezones a specific property under unified control to allow a specific, planned project to be developed. This process can permit a degree of flexibility from the provisions of the LDC for development projects that the Town Council finds to comply with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan under specified conditions. If some planned development submittal requirements seem to be unrelated to your specific proposal, you can request a waiver of submittal requirements to allow you to omit them, but planned development rezoning typically requires considerable detail to be provided regarding a specific development project proposed.
The public hearing process usually takes considerably longer than the administrative action process:
- In addition to the review of your application to see that it contains enough information, staff must prepare a written report that becomes available to the public and to elected and appointed officials, summarizing your request and making recommendations. The report explains the application of the regulations to your request and recommends findings that relate the facts to the regulations, to provide a basis for the recommended decision.
- All of the public hearings described above, except appeals, must be heard publicly at a meeting of the Local Planning Agency (an appointed board of community members), which makes a recommendation.
- After the LPA makes a recommendation, the Town Council holds a public hearing at which it makes a final decision on the request.
- Notices of the LPA hearing are published in advance, and the LPA’s recommendation is transmitted to the Town Council afterward. Notices of the Town Council hearing are also published in advance.
- LPA and Town Council operating policies call for information to pass from the LPA to Town Council by resolution and by means of the approved minutes of the LPA meeting. The LPA normally meets once per month, and usually has the opportunity to review and approve the minutes of its previous meeting at each regular meeting.
- Thus the LPA and Town Council hearings ordinarily add at least three months at the end of the public hearing process after most staff work is done.
- Sometimes LPA and Town Council hearings are continued for further consideration at a later date; continuances can lead to much longer delays.