Rezoning is the act of amending the official zoning map. Any person may petition the City Council for a change to the zoning map, but petitions submitted by parties other than the property owner(s) are subject to enhanced scrutiny and a higher standard for public notice. Following submission, a rezoning petition goes through a review process that includes neighboring property owners, City staff, the Planning Commission, and finally the City Council. This process follows a legally required timetable and has four basic steps, as shown in the diagram above.
This page provides an overview of each of these steps as well as links and documents that may be useful to rezoning applicants. The information provided here is not exhaustive nor does it constitute legally binding city code. The complete legal requirements for the rezoning review process can be found in Chapter 10 of Raleigh’s Unified Development Ordinance.
Application Preparation and Submittal
A rezoning applicant must conduct a neighborhood meeting and attend a pre-application conference before they may submit a rezoning application. The applicant is required to provide records of these meetings with their completed rezoning application form.
The neighborhood meeting is a way for the rezoning applicant to initiate a conversation with the community members most directly affected by the proposed rezoning. Applicants must invite owners of all parcels within 500 feet of the rezoning site. Neighborhood meetings should be scheduled at a time and place that is convenient to the invited property owners. Meeting notices must be mailed at least ten (10) and no more than twenty-five (25) days before the meeting. The applicant may deliver addressed, stamped envelopes containing the meeting notice to City staff. Staff verifies the information and addresses and places the notices in the mail. These envelopes must be provided to staff at least one day prior to the mailing deadline. Conversely, the applicant may choose to send the meeting notices by certified mail. If this delivery method is used, the delivery certification must be submitted to staff with the rezoning application. Applicants should consult UDO Section 10.2.1.C.5 "Content of Notice” for the required contents of mailed notice. The rezoning application must be submitted within 6 months of the neighborhood meeting.
City staff provides pre-application conferences for rezoning petitions free of charge. The pre-application conference is an opportunity for applicants to learn about the rezoning process and consult with staff about potential impacts of their proposed zoning. At this time, staff can also help applicants understand the difference between general use and conditional use zoning districts and how appropriate each may be to the applicant’s case. To schedule a pre-application conference, fill out the Pre-Application Conference form.
After completing the Rezoning Application, the applicant may submit their application along with the submittal fee to the Development Services Customer Service Center. Completed Rezoning applications can be submitted at any time during normal business hours. Staff will review the application for completeness. Once the application has been deemed completed and all technical documents have been approved, Planning staff completes a review and places the case on the agenda of a Planning Commission meeting.
Staff Review, Planning Commission, and City Council
A submitted and accepted rezoning application is assigned a case planner as well as staff reviewers from various City departments such as Development Services, Engineering Services, Transportation, and Public Utilities. The staff report analyzes the consistency of the petition with the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and identifies potential adverse impacts to nearby properties, public infrastructure, and the environment. Staff reviewers may find, based on analysis of potential development impacts, that additional materials are required before the rezoning case may proceed. The applicant will receive a letter notifying them of the reviewers’ comments and whether they need to provide any new materials.
City policy allows staff reviewers ten (10) business days to review general use rezoning cases, fifteen (15) business days to review conditional use rezoning cases, and twenty-four (24) business days to review master plan rezoning cases. Once staff reviewers have completed their comments and the applicant has provided all additional materials required by staff, the application is considered complete.
Planning Commission Review:
Within 45 days of the date that the application is deemed complete, the Planning Commission must hold a public meeting on the case. Planning Commission meetings take place twice a month on the second and fourth Tuesday. The case planner assigned to the case presents the staff comments, and the applicant can also make a presentation on the case. These meetings are open to the public and time is allotted for public comment. The Planning Commission has 90 days to make a recommendation to City Council and may refer the request to a sub-committee for further deliberation during that period. If the review cannot be concluded within 90 days, the Planning Commission may request a time extension from the City Council.
City Council Public Hearing:
The City Council must schedule a public hearing within 60 days of receiving the recommendation of the Planning Commission. The public hearing takes place during a regularly scheduled City Council meeting. These meetings are held on the first and third Tuesday of the month, and most rezoning hearings are heard at the evening meeting on the first Tuesday. During the public hearing, the applicant and members of the public may speak for or against the case being heard. The City Council can render a final decision at the public hearing, defer the case, or refer the request to a sub-committee for further deliberation.
Applicants wishing to petition for rezoning on a site within two years of a Rezoning Public Hearing for that site must apply to the City Council for a two-year waiver. The applicant must submit the applicable fee and submit a new, completed application.
A zoning petition can be for a general use or a conditional use districts. General use means that a zoning district from the UDO is applied without additional restrictions or stipulations. A conditional use zoning case allows the applicant to add requirements to their requested zoning. In most cases, conditions must be more restrictive than the regulations contained in the base zoning that is proposed. Conditions allow the applicant to tailor the zoning such that the potential for negative impacts is reduced and/or positive impacts are increased. A rezoning applicant has multiple opportunities during the rezoning process to add or amend conditions, and a general use case may be converted to a conditional use case after it has been submitted. All relevant fees will still apply in the event of conversion from general use to conditional use. The case planner, Planning Commission, and City Council typically provide feedback to the applicant about conditions that may be appropriate.