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Understanding conditional zoning

Completing large-scale construction projects in Raleigh can be quite a complex task. Having the resources needed is only half the battle; those managing and leading such projects must also ensure that their work is in compliance with local ordinances. Many developers often find themselves at odds with officials over zoning regulations. A location perceived to be ideal can quickly become anything but if the proposed use of the land does not match the type of properties it was zoned for. 

According to Section 160A-382 of the state's General Statutes, North Carolina recognizes four distinct types of zoning districts: 

  • General use: Areas permitting a variety of different uses
  • Special use: Areas upon which uses are only authorized through special or conditional use permits
  • Overlay: Areas that impose additional requirements on properties situated in both general and special use districts
  • Conditional: Individualized development conditions are imposed

More and more authorities are looking to classify areas as conditional zoning districts at they allow for increased developmental flexibility. In fact, information shared by the UNC School of Government shows that 80-90 percent of rezoning requests in North Carolina's larger cities are to reclassify areas as conditional zones. A major reason behind this is due to the limitations imposed by state law, which states that all regulations must be uniform through a district. This could effectively eliminate conditional uses if not for conditional zoning. It allows for unique policies and guidelines to be put in place if and when restrictions are changed or lifted during rezoning. This allows property owners and developers to get the best use out of their land while adhering to policies that protect adjacent property from suffering its own loss of value. 

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