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What are "Development Applications" ?



Thank you for viewing this webpage, it is hoped that this information will provide a wide and general understanding of the 'front end' of the land development process.

Land development and Zoning regulations adopted and enforced by a local government are first enabled by North Carolina General Statute 160D. Note, Voluntary Annexation of land are addressed in General Statute 160A.

The Town of Rolesville Land Development Ordinance (LDO) was created to both update the nearly 20-year-old Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) and also to comply with the implementation of the (new/revised) General Statutes, specifically 160D.  As a continuing effort to  grow, expand, modify, and mature the Town's land development processes, the following Development Applications types are in place.

"Development Applications" is a single term encompassing all the land entitlement processes required prior to the vertical construction of any buildings. Some properties have one or more of these ordered step already accomplished; some have none; some properties may exempt from a step per General Statutes. 

1.a. - Voluntary Annexation Petitions - ANX - xxx Per General Statute 160D-102(xx), this is defined as "

1.b. - Rezoning (Zoning Map Amendment) - REZ - Per General Statute 160D-102(34), this is defined as " An amendment to a zoning regulation for the purpose of changing the zoning district that is applied to a specified property or properties. The term also includes (i) the initial application of zoning when land is added to the territorial jurisdiction of a local government that has previously adopted zoning regulations and (ii) the application of an overlay zoning district or a conditional zoning district. The term does not include (i) the initial adoption of a zoning map by a local government, (ii) the repeal of a zoning map and readoption of a new zoning map for the entire planning and development regulation jurisdiction, or (iii) updating the zoning map to incorporate amendments to the names of zoning districts made by zoning text amendments where there are no changes in the boundaries of the zoning district or land uses permitted in the district. "

Land Development Ordinance (LDO) Appendix A/Section ...

(Draft language, this is a work in progress)   

Map Amendment applications are “Legislative” in their process – after submittal and review by the Technical Review Committee, the Planning Board reviews and makes a recommendation to the Town Board of Commissioners, and then the Town Board holds a public hearing, and can approve or deny the request.

More on Legislative development decisions in North Carolina:

 Town submittal / review / Planning Board / Town Board process:

  1. Submit a Complete Application by the submittal deadline for each month.
  2. Application is reviewed by the Technical Review Committee (TRC), aka Staff charged with reviewing Development Applications.
  3. Comments are published to a unique Development Project webpage by the date indicated for that Months’ Cycle.
  4. An Online meeting with the TRC Staff is held per the dated indicated for that Months’ Cycle.
  5. IF there are comments from any TRC Staff that require revisions, a resubmittal is made.  Reviews and resubmittals continue until all TRC comments are cleared.
  6. Planning Board scheduling occurs – held the 4th Monday of each month.
  7. Town Board of Commissioners meeting scheduling occurs – held 1st Tuesday of each month.
  8. Notification requirements are met for Legislative applications ahead of a Town Board meeting per GS 160D.
  9. Town board meeting held, a public hearing conducted, and a decision made.


2.a. - Special Use Permit - SUP - Per General Statute 160D-102(30), this is defined as " A permit issued to authorize development or land uses in a particular zoning district upon presentation of competent, material, and substantial evidence establishing compliance with one or more general standards requiring that judgment and discretion be exercised as well as compliance with specific standards. The term includes permits previously referred to as conditional use permits or special exceptions.

Land Development Ordinance (LDO) Appendix A/Section 3.2 describes Special Use Permits as the process for a use designated as a 'special use' in a particular zoning district that may be appropriate in that district, but because of its nature, extent, and external effects, requires special consideration by the Town.  When under review and deliberation, special consideration shall be given to location, design, and methods of operation before it can be deemed appropriate in that District and compatible with its surroundings.   Special Use Permit requests will often include proposed Conditions of Approval that describe and detail the project/development; exhibits such as project sketches or illustratives can be included; Traffic trip generation or complete Traffic Impact Analysis reports may be provided.

The Town Board of Commissioners, after conducting an Evidentiary Quasi-Judicial hearing per General Statute 160D-_tbd_, shall approve a Special Use Permit application upon the presentation of competent, material, and substantial evidence by the Applicant that the six (6) Findings of Facts contained in LDO Appendix A/Section 3.2.E.   have been satisfactorily met.  Should there be any Conditions of an approval levied by the Town Board, the Applicant must provide written consent to those conditions.  

LDO Section 5 contains the Permitted Use Charts, and within them specific Zoning uses that require the Special Use Permit process in order for the Town Board to permit that use is indicated by the "S" in those tables.  For instance, the specific Zoning Use of 'Adult Business' is prohibited in all Zoning Districts except in the General Industrial (GI) District, where it is designated as an "S" Permitted use pending Special Use Permit approval.

Findings of Fact that must be demonstrated/met during an Evidentiary Quasi-Judicial Hearing:

1. The proposed special use will be in general conformance with the comprehensive plan and other relevant town plans;

2. Demonstrated measures will be taken to provide ingress, egress, minimize traffic hazards, and minimize traffic congestion on the public roads;

3. The proposed use will not be dangerous or offensive by reason of vibration, noise, odor, dust, smoke, or gas;

4. The establishment of the proposed special use will not inhibit the orderly development of adjacent and surrounding property for uses permitted within the particular zoning district;

5. The proposed special use will not endanger the public health, safety, or general welfare; and

6. The proposed use complies with all applicable provisions of the LDO.

The step-by-step process of a Special Use Permit is explained as such:

1. Complete and Submit the current Special Use Permit application by the monthly deadline per the Submittal calendars

2. The Town Technical Review Committee (TRC) will review the application submittal and provide written comments per the Submittal calendar.

3. An online TEAMS meeting appointment will be arranged (per the Submittal calendar) where Applicant can ask questions of the TRC Staff who provided comments.

4. IF resubmittal is required, resubmit as explained here .  Numbers 2 and 3 above will then repeat.

5. IF no resubmittal is required, Application will be placed on the Agenda of the next available Town Board of Commissioners meeting (generally the 1st Tuesday of each month); this requires Notification Letters and Property sign posting be performed certain # of days prior to the meeting. Town Staff will instruct as to how to proceed on these requirements.

6. At Town Board of Commissioners meeting, an Evidentiary Quasi-judicial hearing will be entered into, and the Applicants' representing Attorney will present evidence (and expert witness testimony as appropriate) to address the six Review Standards/Findings of Fact.  The Board will deliberate and act on a motion to approve, approve with conditions, or deny.

7. After final action by the Town Board, a document entitled "Evidentiary Hearing Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law" (often referred to as an 'ORDER' document) is created (by Applicant Attorney if approved, by Town Attorney if denied), and placed on a future Town Board Consent Agenda for approval.  Upon approval this document is Recorded (by Applicant Attorney if for Approval, by Town Clerk if for Denial) with Wake County Register of Deeds and becomes a land record of the subject property. 

After the above occurs and the Town Board approves an SUP, the property is now entitled with a Special Use Permit per the specifics detailed in the Approval document.

Reference to the Approved Special Use Permit should be included/added on all subsequent development plans and submittals to the Town. Just like with Zoning (and any conditions or concept plans related to it), an SUP 'runs with the land', and is not tied to the Applicant or the property owner at the time of the Approval.

2.b. - Variance (Zoning or Subdivision) (VAR) -

3. - Preliminary Subdivision Plat (PSP) - 

4. - Construction Infrastructure Drawings (CID) - 

5. - Final Subdivision Plat (FSP) - 

6. - Site Development Plan (SDP) - Per General Statute 160D-102(29), 'Site Plan' is defined as " A scaled drawing and supporting text showing the relationship between lot lines and the existing or proposed uses, buildings, or structures on the lot. The site plan may include site-specific details such as building areas, building height and floor area, setbacks from lot lines and street rights-of-way, intensities, densities, utility lines and locations, parking, access points, roads, and stormwater control facilities that are depicted to show compliance with all legally required development regulations that are applicable to the project and the site plan review. A site plan approval based solely upon application of objective standards is an administrative decision and a site plan approval based in whole or in part upon the application of standards involving judgment and discretion is a quasi-judicial decision. A site plan may also be approved as part of a conditional zoning decision. "

Under the LDO, all Site Development Plans are fully Administrative, meaning after the TRC completes the review and there are no further corrections needed, the Planning Director (case by case, other TRC entities) signs the plan, signifying its (date of) Final Approval.


Once all of these steps are accomplished, submittal, review, approval, and issuance of Building Permits can commence.