Zoning and Rezoning

Last updated Oct. 21, 2016 - 4:31 pm
Zoning & Rezoning Header

Zoning is key to managing city growth. Understanding how it works is important to being an informed citizen. Below you will find help to understand what zoning is and how it is applied in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Zoning Map

Zoning is a legal instrument to regulate the use of land, building size, height, and setbacks. Zoning is intended to promote an orderly pattern of development and to separate land uses that are incompatible such as industrial uses and homes.

Not familiar with how zoning works? Read a brief tutorial that outlines some of the basic concepts of zoning, which has been in use in the United States for almost 100 years and in Raleigh since 1923.

The Official Zoning Map is a legal document maintained by the Department of City Planning that defines the zoning for all areas within the City’s jurisdiction. Every parcel of land within the city’s jurisdiction, including parkland, has a zoning designation. The spatial designations in the Official Zoning Map are known as zoning districts.

Raleigh's Zoning Districts

The City of Raleigh uses three types of base zoning districts: residential districts, mixed use districts, and special districts. Raleigh’s entire jurisdiction is covered by base districts, and there may only be one base district on any parcel. Some parts of the city receive further regulation in the form of overlay districts. More than one overlay district may apply to the same parcel. You can find more information about zoning districts in Raleigh’s Unified Development Ordinance.

Residential Districts:

Residential districts are designed for neighborhoods with densities of up to 10 dwelling units per acre and building heights no taller than three stories and 40 feet. They allow residential uses as well as civic uses like schools and churches.

Mixed Use Districts:

Mixed use districts offer greater flexibility in use and density while still allowing for appropriate transitions between residential, commercial, and industrial areas. Lower intensity districts like Residential Mixed Use (RX), Office Mixed Use (OX), and Office Park (OP) restrict the amount of retail use in a development and are intended to provide an active but compatible buffer for residential districts. Neighborhood Mixed Use (NX), Commercial Mixed Use (CX), and Industrial Mixed Use (IX) allow a greater range and concentration of uses, making them well-suited to commercial centers and corridors.

Special Districts:

In addition to residential and mixed use districts, Raleigh has a set of special districts for areas and uses that require customized regulation. Special districts can address the unique needs of sensitive environmental areas, agricultural uses, or heavy industry.

Overlay Districts:

The last type of zoning district used by the City of Raleigh is the overlay district. Overlays add an extra set of regulations related to an environmental, cultural, or infrastructure feature that may extend across numerous parcels and various base districts.

Find Your Zoning

The easiest and most accurate way to determine zoning for any part of the City of Raleigh is with iMAPS. IMAPS is a web-based mapping platform managed by Wake County.

IMAPS is very similar to other interactive online maps that allow you to search for addresses, measure distances, or look at satellite images. What makes iMAPS special is that it also gives you access to Wake County’s tax data and a wide range of regulatory and policy information from the City of Raleigh, including the Official Zoning Map.

To find your zoning on iMAPS:

  1. Search for an address, parcel identification number (PIN), real estate ID, or property owner in the search box in the upper right-hand corner
  2. Once you have located your area of interest, click on the ‘Layers’ bar in the lower right-hand corner
  3. Scroll down the list, and turn on the layers labeled ‘Zoning’ and ‘Overlays’
  4. Look at your area of interest on the map. It will now be labeled with the zoning and overlay districts that apply to that area.

To find the zoning conditions for a site, follow steps 1-4 above then:

  1. Click on the ‘Tools’ bar in the upper left-hand corner
  2. Click the ‘Identify’ tool (the white circle with a lower-case ‘i’ inside of it)
  3. Click on your area of interest. A pop-up box should appear.
  4. In the pop-up box, find the row labeled ‘Link to Conditions’
  5. Click the link to download or open a PDF file of the zoning conditions

For a Zoning Verification Letter, please complete the Zoning Verification Letter Request Form. Submit the completed form with a check made payable to the City of Raleigh for $29 to the following:

City of Raleigh - Development Services Department
One Exchange Plaza, Suite 304
Raleigh, NC 27601
Attn: Cynthia Taylor

Zoning Verification Letters will be processed in the order received within three (3) business days of receipt. Note that the City of Raleigh does not provide zoning compliance letters.

Changes to the Zoning Map

Rezoning is the act of modifying the Official Zoning Map. A rezoning case may be initiated by an individual, a group of individuals, or the City. However it is initiated, the case must go through a legally-defined process. For more information on the rezoning process, visit the Rezoning page.

To view cases that have already been submitted and are in the process of being reviewed by staff, visit the Current Development Activity page. On the Planning Commission and City Council pages you can find the times and dates for upcoming public meetings. You can also sign up for email updates on the activities of the Planning Commission and City Council on their respective pages.

All zoning cases from 1984 to the present can be found on the Finalized Rezoning Cases page.

Zoning Permits

The City of Raleigh oversees permitted uses of land based on specific project types. The Zoning Permits for Businesses are routed to Development Services for review, issuance and inspection.

Zoning Enforcement

The Zoning Division is responsible for enforcement of the City of Raleigh Zoning Code designed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Raleigh’s citizens. The function of Zoning Code Enforcement is to enforce the requirements of the City’s Zoning Ordinance as found in the Part 10 Unified Development Ordinance of the Raleigh City Code.

If you have a question/concern about a possible zoning violation or wish to file a formal complaint, please contact Robert Pearce at 919-996-2474 or

Where can I find old zoning hearing minutes?

Search past minutes by year: 2013 l 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001

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