Special Zoning Districts

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Special Districts Master Plans Prerequisites Key Steps in the Process Additional Information Expected Processing Time Fees Next Steps

Special Districts

Raleigh’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) includes Residential, Mixed Use, and Special zoning districts. There are six Special Districts: Conservation Management, Agriculture Productive, Heavy Industrial, Manufactured Housing, Campus, and Planned Development. See Chapter 4 of Raleigh’s UDO for more information.

These districts are applied to a property through the rezoning process. Two of these districts – Planned Development and Campus – require a Master Plan in addition to the rezoning application. The following sections contain information about this requirement.

Master Plans

Master plans are a visual component required when a rezoning application is submitted for a Planned Development or Campus district. It provides a visual illustration of proposed site developments. As a master plan is a component of a rezoning request, Planning Commission and City Council review are required.

Master plans identify development standards and permitted uses. Components of a master plan include:

  • General layout map
  • Building locations
  • Pedestrian circulation
  • Parking areas
  • Open space and tree conservation plan
  • Utility connections
  • Stormwater plan

Anyone requesting approval of a master plan must also submit a rezoning application. Master plans in existence prior to September 1, 2013, may be amended in accordance with Section 4.7.6 of the Unified Development Ordinance by submitting a Master Plan Administrative Amendment Application and Checklist. If amendments cannot be approved under these provisions, a rezoning case must be submitted.

City zoning and subdivision regulations allow customization of a master plan to support a specific project type or concept. All final site plans are approved through an administrative process in which staff reviews the plans in accordance with the approved master plan. This process requires detailed information to be submitted at the zoning stage. After the zoning and master plan have been approved, the applicant may proceed to the Planning and Development Customer Service Center for permitting.


Before submitting a rezoning application and master plan, applicants must complete the rezoning process prerequisites. These include a pre-application conference and a neighborhood meeting. Raleigh’s UDO requires that actual notice be provided to all property owners within a master plan that are not among the applicants.

Key Steps in the Process

Master plans are part of a rezoning request, and more information can be found on the rezoning process page. Once a complete application is submitted, a coordinating planner is assigned to manage the review. The review team consists of staff with expertise in planning, transportation, transit, stormwater, public utilities, fire, zoning, forestry, and parks.

City staff verifies technical compliance with zoning and development regulations, as well as compliance with development policies, standards and guidelines of the Comprehensive Plan. The next step is Planning Commission review. The Commission considers the application and makes a recommendation to City Council. City Council holds a public hearing and can approve, approve with conditions, or deny the rezoning request and master plan.

Expected Processing Time

Staff review is typically 24 business days, and several staff reviews may be necessary.

After a master plan has been accepted by staff and all technical document reviewed for completion, staff will schedule a Planning Commission meeting within 45 days. The Planning Commission will make a formal recommendation to City Council within 90 days of receipt of the application, unless additional review time is requested.


Next Steps

After approval of a Master Plan, the applicant may proceed to Preliminary Subdivision or Administrative Site Review.



Planning and Development


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