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UNC School of Government

Zoning Practice

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This three-day intermediate course investigates zoning authority, procedures, and administration, including decision-making procedure, permitting and enforcement, and limits on zoning. This course is offered annually in the fall.

This course is for intermediate planning and zoning staff with responsibilities for drafting and administering zoning ordinances.

General Course Content

Decision Procedures

Legislative Decisions [3 hr]

  • Amending the ordinance (notice, hearings, protests, planning board review, statements)
  • Spot zoning
  • Conditional and contract zoning
  • Development agreements

Quasi-Judicial Decisions [3 hr]

  • Conducting evidentiary hearings (evidence, findings)
  • Impartiality
  • Staffing the board of adjustment

Limitations and Regulation of Particular Uses [3 hr]

  • Constitutional limits (Takings, First Amendment)
  • Statutory limits (state and federal)
  • Existing development and vested rights

Administration [3 hr]

  • Administration (officers, liability, conflicts of interest)
  • Permits
  • Interpretations
  • Inspections and enforcement (Inspections, warrants, NOV, penalties)

Topics in Zoning [4 hr]

  • Intro to preservation, design and form
  • Case study/Field visit/Class exercises/Small group discussion

Who should attend

  • Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles
  • Planning and Zoning Professionals
  • Zoners


David Owens joined the Institute of Government in 1989. Prior to that, he was an attorney and senior planner for the Wisconsin State Planning Office and spent 10 years with the NC Division of Coastal Management. His publications include numerous books and articles on zoning law, including the bas...

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