Planning & Zoning

Zoning Compliance Permit

The Haw River Town Manager issues Zoning Compliance Permits (ZCPs) for activities that are regulated under the Haw River Zoning Ordinance on property in the town limits and in the extraterritorial jurisdiction. In some cases, a building permit may also be required. Building permits and inspections are handled by the Alamance County Building Inspections Department.

A Zoning Compliance Permit is issued for:

  • Site changes, such as relocating or expanding an existing structure, or constructing a new building, accessory building, deck or fence.
  • Installing new signs or changing the location, sign face, or message of an existing sign.
  • Changes of use, such as moving a business into an existing non-residential retail or office space.
  • Operating a business out of your personal residence.
  • Temporary and event signs, including sandwich boards and banners.

Development Processes


The division of property for development is governed by the Haw River Zoning Ordinance and applies to residential and nonresidential properties. The subdivision review process is determined by the number of proposed lots and may be reviewed by staff, the Board of Adjustment, Planning Board or Town Council. Review by a board involves a public hearing and notice to nearby property owners. Subdivisions generally are reviewed in two phases. First the preliminary plan is reviewed by the required board. If approved, this authorizes the development of infrastructure and roads. Once these improvements are in place or guaranteed with a bond, staff can approve the final plat, which creates the lots and makes them available for sale and development.

Special Use Permit

A Special Use Permit is required for development within special-use districts (a district with no uses permitted by right) and for certain uses with unique or far-reaching consequences. Special Use Permits are reviewed by the Planning Board and Town Council as needed with a public hearing. The permits often are filed for projects seeking annexation and initial zoning. A Special Use Permit filed in conjunction with a rezoning request to a special use district allows the town to apply development conditions, and to understand the specific development being considered. This is a quasi-judicial review process.


All property within the town’s jurisdiction is assigned to a particular zoning district. Most districts have a list of uses that are permitted “by right” (without review). Property owners may petition the town to have their property assigned to a different zoning district. This process is not quasi-judicial. Applications are reviewed by the Planning Board and Town Council as needed with a public hearing. The town cannot apply conditions to rezonings in general purpose (non-special use) districts. The board/council must consider all of the permitted uses in the district and their desirability for the site requesting rezoning.


Annexation is the process by which the town expands its boundaries. Property owners can petition for annexation through the voluntary annexation process. The town analyzes the fiscal impact of potential annexations, as well as potential water use, before the Town Council votes. Annexations require a public hearing, and often are paired with the review of a development proposal on the property. The town also has the option to pursue involuntary annexation of areas that meet criteria established in state law. This process can take 18 months or longer. The town has used this option sparingly.

Site Plan Review

Site plan reviews are conducted by staff, or by staff committee for larger nonresidential buildings. Information is submitted detailing the building, parking, utilities, lighting and landscaping, as well as how stormwater will be controlled, how solid waste will be removed and how fire protection service will be provided. Staff does not have the authority to approve plans that do not comply with ordinance requirements. Plans needing special consideration must be reviewed by the Board of Adjustment.

Public Hearing Participation

Most development activities are subject to public notice and public hearings. For items requiring public hearings, property owners that adjoin the subject property will receive a written notice of the hearing. This allows the affected neighbors to have the opportunity to provide comments to the boards.

Quasi-judicial proceedings require the deciding board to make findings of fact based on the application and testimony at the public hearing. Speakers at quasi-judicial hearings must be sworn in, and are subject to cross-examination. Testimony at quasi-judicial hearings must be factual rather than anecdotal or subjective. Written comments, while accepted into the record, cannot be considered sworn testimony.

General purpose hearings for non-special use rezonings, annexations and other matters do not require speakers to be sworn in, or to provide objective testimony. Written comments also are accepted for general purpose hearings.

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