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Special Use Permit Information

The City of Hickory Land Development Code contains a list of uses that are permitted, not permitted, or are a special use within each of its base zoning districts. A special use is a land use that is reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure the use is harmonious with the area in which it is proposed. Special uses may only be initiated upon the issuance of a Special Use Permit by the Hickory Regional Planning Commission.

Special Use Permit Process

  • Contact the Planning and Development Division to discuss the Special Use Permit (SUP) request and to evaluate the feasibility of a successful SUP petition.
  • The applicant should consult with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) regarding any driveway connection permit requirements to any state maintained roadways.
  • If a SUP petition will be submitted, a meeting between staff and the applicant will be arranged to go over the special use process and application needs in detail.
  • The applicant will be responsible for submitting a complete application to the Planning Department. The application must be made by the last regular working day of the month in order for the Hickory Regional Planning Commission to hear the request the following month. Applications that are incomplete or late may or may not be accepted by staff.
  • If the applicant is not the owner of the property, he or she must provide written verification from the property owner indicating that they are aware of the special use request.
  • Planning staff will handle all public hearing notices for the petition. Notices include a sign posted on the property, letters mailed to property owners adjacent to the subject property, and notices in the local newspaper and on the city's website. Applicants are encouraged to reach out to neighbors and neighborhood associations to address potential concerns beforehand.
  • A public hearing will be scheduled to hear the request in front of the Hickory Regional Planning Commission. The applicant or an agent must be present at this hearing. The Planning Commission will make a final decision regarding the SUP. The public hearing will be quasi-judicial in nature, which requires the sworn testimony by those speaking for or against.
  • In the event the SUP is denied, the applicant has 30 days to appeal the decision to the North Carolina Superior Court.

Amendments to Master Land Use Plans

As part of the Land Development Code, properties may be rezoned to a Planned Development district. This zoning district requires that a Master Land Use Plan be established during the rezoning. Previously, a Special Use Permit (SUP) was issued for the Master Land Use Plan and any amendments to the approved Master Land Use Plan was required to go through the SUP review process. The amendment process has since been revised to require changes to go through the rezoning process again, rather than a special use process. However, previously established Planned Development Master Land Use Plans that were issued as part of a SUP will continue to utilize the SUP review process for amendments. The Planning Department will advise applicants which type of hearing will be necessary to hear revised Master Land Use Plans.

Special Use Review Criteria

Requests for special uses are required to be considered in light of specific review criteria as outlined in Chapter 2 of the City of Hickory's Land Development Code, and are as follows:

  • The proposed use complies with all applicable provisions of the Land Development Code.
  • The proposed use is compatible with adjacent uses in terms of scale, site design, operating characteristics (hours of operation, traffic generation, lighting, noise, odor, dust, and other external impacts).
  • Any significant adverse impacts resulting from the use will be mitigated or offset.
  • The proposed use will not cause substantial diminution in value of other property in the neighborhood in which it is to be located;
  • Public safety, transportation and utility facilities and services will be available to serve the subject property while maintaining sufficient levels of service for existing development.
  • Adequate assurances of continuing maintenance have been provided.
  • Any significant adverse impacts on the natural environment will be mitigated.

Key Documents