Explanations of various development processes are available below.
A special use permit is required for development within special use districts (a district with no uses permitted by right) and for certain uses with unique or far-reaching consequences. Special use permits are reviewed by the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners at a quarterly public hearing. The permits often are filed for projects seeking annexation and initial zoning. A special use permit filed in conjunction with a rezoning request to a special use district allows the town to apply development conditions and to understand the specific development being considered. This is a quasi-judicial review process.
A conditional use permit is required for all new nonresidential or multi-family development with buildings larger than 10,000 square feet or disturbing more than 3 acres. This process also is required, regardless of size, for certain uses of a nonresidential nature that are allowed in residential districts, such as churches, schools and daycare centers. Unique uses with unusual impacts, such as communication towers, also are subject to conditional use permits. These reviews are conducted by the Board of Adjustment and include a public hearing. This is a quasi-judicial review process.
The division of property for development is governed by the Unified Development Ordinance and applies to residential and nonresidential properties. The subdivision review process is determined by the number of proposed lots and may be reviewed by staff, the Board of Adjustment, Planning Board or Board of Commissioners. Review by a board involves a public hearing and notice to nearby property owners. Subdivisions generally are reviewed in two phases. First, the preliminary plan is reviewed by the required board. If approved, this authorizes the development of infrastructure and roads. Once these improvements are in place or guaranteed with a bond, staff can approve the final plat, which creates the lots and makes them available for sale and development.
All property within the town’s jurisdiction is assigned to a particular zoning district. Most districts have a list of uses that are permitted “by right” (without review). Property owners may petition the town to have their property assigned to a different zoning district. This process is not quasi-judicial. Applications are reviewed by the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners at a quarterly public hearing. The Board of Commissioners, in deciding a rezoning, must indicate how the application complies with the town’s comprehensive plan, including the Future Land Use Map. The town cannot apply conditions to rezonings in general purpose (non-special use) districts. The boards must consider all of the permitted uses in the district and their desirability for the site requesting rezoning.
Annexation is the process by which the town expands its boundaries. Property owners can petition for annexation through the voluntary annexation process. The town analyzes the fiscal impact of potential annexations, as well as potential water use, before the Board of Commissioners votes. Annexations require a public hearing and often are paired with the review of a development proposal on the property. The town also has the option to pursue involuntary annexation of areas that meet criteria established in state law. This process can take 18 months or longer. The town has used this option sparingly.
Site plan reviews are conducted by staff, or by staff committee for larger nonresidential buildings. Information is submitted detailing the building, parking, utilities, lighting and landscaping, as well as how stormwater will be controlled, how solid waste will be removed and how fire protection service will be provided. Staff does not have the authority to approve plans that do not comply with ordinance requirements. Plans needing special consideration must be reviewed by the Board of Adjustment.
Most development activities are subject to public notice and public hearings. For items requiring public hearings, property owners within 500 feet of the subject property will receive a written notice of the hearing. This allows the affected neighbors to have the opportunity to provide comments to the boards.
Quasi-judicial proceedings require the deciding board to make findings of fact based on the application and testimony at the public hearing. Speakers at quasi-judicial hearings must be sworn in and are subject to cross-examination. Testimony at quasi-judicial hearings must be factual rather than anecdotal or subjective. Written comments, while accepted into the record, cannot be considered sworn testimony.
General purpose hearings for non-special use rezonings, annexations and other matters do not require speakers to be sworn in or to provide objective testimony. Written comments also are accepted for general purpose hearings.