Special Use

A land use designated as a "special use" in a zoning district is one that might be appropriate if special standards are in place to ensure it is located, designed and operated in a manner that is in harmony with neighboring development. Special Use Permits are granted by the Board of Adjustment through a quasi-judicial hearing and review process set forth in the Unified Development Ordinance.

Required Conclusions

Before the Board of Adjustment can approve any Special Use Permit petition, it must first reach each of the following conclusions: 

  1. The proposed development will not materially endanger the public health or safety.
  2. The proposed development will comply with all regulations and standards generally applicable within the zoning district and specifically applicable to the particular type of special use or class of special uses.
  3. The proposed development will not substantially injure the value of adjoining property or is a public necessity.
  4. The proposed development will be in harmony with the area in which it is located.
  5. The proposed development will be consistent with the Wake County Land Use Plan.

It is strongly recommended that any person considering seeking a Special Use Permit first contact Zoning Administration staff, who will explain the review process, applicable requirements and standards, and potential issues.



Applicant submits a Special Use application, prepared plans, other documentation and applicable fee through the Permit Portal.

Special Use Checklist

Special Use review fee is $800, payable when the application is submitted.


Staff Review

The special use petition is reviewed for consistency with the Land Use Plan and compliance with applicable standards. At the same time, Planning staff post notice of the petition at the site and mail the owners of properties adjoining the site notice of the petition and the upcoming Board of Adjustment meeting at which it is expected to be reviewed.


Board of Adjustment Hearing

In reviewing Special Use Permit petitions, the Board of Adjustment acts much like a panel of judges. It holds a hearing to allow the staff, petitioner and other interested parties to present factual evidence relating to the required conclusions. It then discusses the petition and makes findings of fact supported by the presented evidence. The Board may approve a petition subject to conditions reasonably necessary to allow it to reach the required conclusions.

A Special Use Permit runs with the land for two years and authorizes submittal of an application for approval of final plans by Zoning Administration staff, and issuance of necessary land use and building permits for the approved development.

The petitioner or other aggrieved party may appeal the Board's decision to Superior Court within 30 days of the written notice of the decision.