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Special Exceptions / Conditional Uses

What is a Special Exception?

A Special Exception is the grant of a specific use that would not be appropriate generally or without restriction.  Effective October 30, 2014 all NEW applications for Special Exception will now be a “Conditional Use” –

Effective 10-30-2014

  • Conditional use applications must be approved as complete by the Planning Department before they can be submitted to the Hearing Examiner.
  • The deciding body is only required to send notice for the hearing, rather than for both the application and the hearing. Notice must be sent to all abutting and confronting property owners, civic and homeowners associations within ½ mile, and any municipality within ½ mile.
  • The Planning Director must submit the report to the Hearing Examiner 7 days (instead of 5) before the scheduled hearing.
  •  Introduced a conditional use plan to replace the site plan required as part of a Special Exception application in the old code.
  •  Submittal requirements include concurrent review of forest conservation, stormwater management, and traffic issues rather than requiring pre-approval.
  •  General findings for all conditional uses have been modified.
  •  Where a conditional use plan is required, a site plan will not be required for that portion of the site, unless it is part of an optional method development with a sketch plan, it is required by the use standards, or if required by the Hearing Examiner or Board of Appeals.
  •  Modified the time frame for the conditional use plan hearing to within 120 days of the application’s acceptance instead of no sooner than 60 days after notice.
  • Conditional use applications are decided by the Hearing Examiner. If a request to present oral argument is made following the Hearing Examiner’s report and decision, only then does the Board of Appeals make the final decision regarding the conditional use.
  •  If a conditional use application is denied, a new application proposing substantially the same development on the same property may not be filed within 18 months (instead of 36 months) after the final decision.
  •  In the old code, an affirmative vote of 4 members of the Board of Appeals is generally required to approve a special exception. In the new code, a conditional use application will only go to the Board of Appeals if there is opposition, in the form of a written request for oral argument, to the Hearing Examiner’s decision. If only 4 members of the Board of Appeals are present, an affirmative vote of only 3 members is needed to approve the conditional use.
  •  New fee payment method: 25% of fee must be paid directly to the Planning Department; 75% must be paid to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (Section 7.6.5. Fees)


  What is a Special Exception or Conditional Use Inspection?

The Department of Permitting Services inspects the Special Exceptions that have been approved by the Board of Appeals.  The Department of Permitting Services will also Inspect Conditional Use Permits. Inspections are performed periodically as designated by the use and on a complaint basis. The inspectors verify that the site complies with the Deciding body's Resolutions, terms and conditions, and exhibits of record.  The Department of Permitting Services does not inspect Accessory Apartments; the Department of Housing and Community Affairs inspect those cases.

What are the Fees for a Special Exception?

See above for application fee and process.

The Department of Permitting Services charges an additional annual fee to cover the cost of the inspections. Bills are mailed to all Special Exception holders annually, and the fees are due July 31st. The annual fees include the Department of Permitting Services inspection fee and a Board of Appeals Administrative Fee.

The Special Exception fee is $360.35. 

The Accessory Apartment Fee is $115.35

Fees are subject to change with each new fiscal year (July 1).