Applications and Fees

The Planning Department has consolidated project applications and resources into one collection. Each application link includes the necessary steps to process your application submittals and resubmittals, provide payment, as well as and future steps after submitting your application. 

Any Questions - Please contact the Planning Department at 919-560-4137 or email at [email protected]

Application Fees 

Costs for the many applications and permits vary based on the complexity of the specific project. To help keep you up-to-date on any changes to various application fees, we have created a consolidated list of all our applications and fees. The fees are also included with every application listed below.

Land Development Office (LDO) - Application Tracking

The Land Development Office (LDO) created by City and County of Durham is used to track development and permitting processes. It provides a way to create, track, maintain, and manage applications, permits, inspections, and zoning code violations. LDO provides Durham with the tools required to practice effective growth management. Customers can look at development related applications that are submitted and review comments as these documents become available during processing.

NOTICE OF REVIEW TIMELINES


Resubmittals

Please use the same application portal as used for your original submission of an application. 

Common Planning Applications (Alphabetical)

Below is an alphabetical list of all our applications, with brief descriptions, handled through the Durham City-County Planning Department. Each topic links you to a detailed overview of each application which will discuss the expected process, prerequisite information and resources, fees, application submission, and payment processing. 

If you require further assistance, contact the Planning Department at [email protected] or call us at 919-560-4137. Applications cannot be processed over the phone or email.

ABC PERMIT

An ABC permit is required for alcohol sales. In the City of Durham, ABC permit applications are reviewed by the Police Department, Fire Department, City-County Planning, and City-County Inspections. There is no fee for this review and processing time typically takes one week.

See more about applying for an ABC Permit

ANNEXATIONS

A voluntary annexation is when a person or entity asks the City to bring property into the City in order to receive City of Durham services. The most common example is when a property owner wants to connect to City water or sewer for a development project. Land owners outside the City limits with well and septic tank problems may also seek to connect to public water and sewer.

Types of Annexation Petitions

There are two types of voluntary annexations applications: contiguous annexation and non-contiguous annexation:

  1. “Contiguous Annexation Petition” is required for annexation of property that abuts the city’s primary corporate limits.
  2. “Non-Contiguous Annexation Petition”, sometimes referred to as a satellite annexation, is required for annexation of a property that does not abut the city’s primary corporate limits. Property that abuts satellite areas annexed  into the City of Durham, that are not themselves contiguous, are also deemed non-contiguous annexations by state statutes.   

See more and apply for an Annexation


Certificate of Appropriateness - Major and Minor

A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is a document approving work on local historic landmarks or properties in local historic districts based on consistency with the applicable review criteria. When changes are proposed to properties within local districts or to landmarks, the proposed changes are reviewed against the Local Historic Properties Review Criteria (PDF). If the proposed changes are consistent with the Criteria, either staff or the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will issue the COA. 

Click here for more information on a Certificate of Appropriateness

HOME OCCUPATION Permit

A Home Occupation Permit is required for any home occupation that is primarily conducted within a residential dwelling unit, and is considered an accessory use of the dwelling unit.

Home Occupation Permits are not required for "home offices" when they are used for tele-working or are not associated with a particular business. They are required when the primary location of a business, or any location where goods and services are provided or shipped, is a residential dwelling unit.

See more about Home Occupation permits

Outdoor Seating Permit

Eating establishments and restaurants located in the Downtown Design and Compact Design zoning districts that wish to operate an outdoor seating area on City-maintained, public rights-of-way, City sidewalks, public alleys, and/or pedestrian ways must apply for an outdoor seating permit.

See more about Outdoor Seating Permits

Sign Permits and Common Signage Plan

A sign is defined as any words, lettering, parts of letters, figures, numerals, phrases, sentences, emblems, devices, structures, designs, trade names, or trade marks by which anything is made known such as are used to designate an individual, a firm, an association, a corporation, a profession, a business, or a commodity or products, which are legible from any public street or adjacent property and used to attract attention.

Where a sign permit is required, applications are reviewed against applicable provisions of UDO Article 11, Sign Standards (in particular UDO Section 11.6), as well as any approved common signage plan or Certificate of Appropriateness applicable to the property. 

See more and apply for a Sign Permit

Site Plans and Plats

A Site Plan is an accurately scaled development plan that shows existing conditions on a site as well as depicting details of proposed development. Along with a site plan, a plat is required for review. 

A Plat is a map, chart, or plan of a tract or parcel of land which will be or which has been, subdivided.

See more and apply for a Site Plan Review Applications


See more and apply for a Preliminary, Final, and Exempt Plat

SPECIAL USE PERMITS

Special use permits are required when specified in the Unified Development Ordinance, and generally indicates that the proposed development or use may be appropriate but needs additional review and approval due to the potential impact of the proposed use or development on the surrounding area.  

See more about Minor Special Use Permits


See more about Major Special Use Permits

STREET CLOSING / STREET RENAMING

Street closings and street renamings go through similar processes of application and processing. See below for brief descriptions of each process. You can also see more information and submit an application via the Street Closing / Street Renaming page. 

Right-of-way Withdrawal

Per North Carolina General Statute 136-96 and Durham City Charter § 51.2, a right-of-way that has been dedicated, but not opened and used by the public within 15 years from the dedication of the right-of-way, may be eligible for withdrawal. Any public improvement in the right-of-way, including utilities, is considered public use.

Street Closing

A dedicated street that has been improved may be closed through the public hearing process by the appropriate governing body (City Council, if City jurisdiction, Board of County Commissioners, if County jurisdiction), and in the case of streets in the County’s jurisdiction, by the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) Board of Transportation as well. The governing body can approve, deny, or continue the case if it determines more information is needed. A Street Closing Pre-submittal Meeting is required before the submittal of a Street Closing Application. 

Street Renaming

The name of a street, alley, or driveway may be changed through the public hearing process by the appropriate governing body (City Council, if City jurisdiction, Board of County Commissioners, if County jurisdiction), and in the case of streets in the County’s jurisdiction, requires approval of the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) as well. The governing body can approve, deny, or continue the case if it determines more information is needed. A Street Renaming Pre-submittal Meeting is required before the submittal of a Street Renaming Application.

See more about Street Closings and Street Renamings

Street Vendor Registration

A street vendor is any individual who sells food or goods in the street right-of-way, either from a commercial vehicle or stall. According to the Durham City Code of Ordinances, only vendors selling food and periodicals are permitted to sell within the right-of-way of a street. Street vendor registration is performed through the Planning Department and must be renewed by July 1st each year. 

See more and apply for a Street Vendor Registration

Temporary Use Permit

Some uses are considered temporary in nature and can be approved as a temporary use. A Temporary Use Permit (TUP) is needed whenever you plan to use a space for something other than it’s normal intended use. Most common are: construction trailers, seasonal sales (fireworks, Christmas trees, pumpkins), parking spaces used temporarily for food trucks, storage, or PODS, and festivals. 

Temporary uses should not be confused with permanent outdoor activities (for example, a car sales lot) that are only allowed in certain zones and require site plan approval. Nor should they be confused with an outdoor display area (for example, a garden center that is part of a building supply store) that may be a part of a retail store and require site plan approval.

See more and apply for a Temporary Use Permit

Variances

A Variance is an application request to receive an exception, or a unique circumstance, to a standard in the Unified Development Ordinance based primarily on a proven unique hardship that prevents compliance with the ordinance standard. Variance applications are heard in a quasi-judicial public hearing by the Durham City-County Board of Adjustment (BOA), and the BOA can only approve a variance if it determines the applicant has proven specific findings of fact. 

Prior to submitting a Variance application, a pre-submittal meeting with staff is required. Submission of any documents and preliminary plans is helpful for staff to review your case and guide you in the review process.

See more and apply for a Variance

VERIFICATION LETTERS (ZONING, Use, AND Family Care Home)

A Zoning Verification letter is an official letter from the City-County Planning Department indicating the zoning for a specific piece of property. The zoning helps determine what type of building or use is allowed in that area. This letter may also contain information on zoning overlay districts, such as watersheds or local historic districts. A Zoning Verification letter does not contain information on specific uses or other development regulations, such as use limitations or environmental regulations. 

For specific use verifications, please request a Business Use Verification Letter, which contains all of the same information as the Zoning Verification letter, but it will include details on your specified use. 

See more to request a Verification Letter

Watershed Determinations

There are instances where an existing watershed boundary is not correct in regards to the property in question. There may be evidence that the property in question is not within the drainage basin of the reservoir and that the site lies beyond a ridgeline forming a barrier which prevents stormwater runoff from flowing off the site in the direction of the reservoir. In this case, establishing the correct boundary in relation to the site is critical for the development. This is a rare request so please work closely with staff to work through the process.

See more to request for a Watershed Determination

ZONING MAP CHANGE (REZONING)

Every property in Durham has a zoning designation that controls what is allowed to be built on that property. A zoning map change is the process to change a property’s zoning designation. This process is known as a Zoning Map Change, or more commonly referred to as a "re-zoning". Zoning provides rules for things like how tall and wide buildings can be, building placement, what type of homes, businesses, or green spaces are allowed or required, how many and what kinds of trees should be planted or preserved, and more. A property owner may request to change the zoning of their property so that they can build a new type of development (like changing a property from residential to commercial) that follows different zoning rules.

See more about Zoning Map Changes

Partnering Department Applications

As-built Drawing – Engineering, Floodplain, Stormwater

Throughout the development of a project, features of a building or site are likely to change as the developer has changes throughout the construction process. These drawings are necessary for any changes to maintain an accurate record of the building as it exists at the time of completion and sign-off.

See more about As-Built Drawing Submissions

Construction Drawings - Civil and Pump Stations

The City of Durham is tasked with reviewing construction documents for items related to residential, commercial, and pumps stations. These services are handled through the Engineering Development Review, Stormwater Division, Durham Transportation Development Review Group, and Department of Water Management.

See more about Construction Drawings

FLOODPLAIN Permits

The main purpose of floodplain rules is to provide a safe place for rising flood waters. Preserving natural floodplains reduces flooding in developed areas. This prevents expensive damage to buildings and roads. It also helps protect the quality of the water that we drink and conserves plant and wildlife habitat. Along with other measures, these rules are also required to make federally subsidized flood insurance available to Durham residents. 

See more and apply for a Floodplain Permit

Right-of-Way Permits

Any work that takes place within a City of Durham Right-of-Way requires a permit. Use the link below to learn more and submit an application. Common applications include: Construction in the Right-of-Way, Temporary Right-of-Way Closures, Outdoor Seating, and Small Cell Wireless antennas/nodes. 

See more and apply for a Right-of-Way Permit

Video Inspection

Video Inspections is the use special camera equipment to inspect underground water and sewer pipelines for damages, leaks and obstructions. Video Inspection is required for permitted storm drainage and sanitary sewer pipes and structures. Video inspections are mostly handled through the Durham Public Works Department. If further assistance is required, please contact Public Works at 919-560-4326. 

See more to request for a Video Inspection


Public Works Application uploads

Reference Guide for Development Alternative

Performance Bonds