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Planning, Development & Building ConstructionSpecial Exception Review

What is a Special Exception?
It is an official change in the use of a property, typically involving the standards and conditions of the zoning district. These could relate to access, noise, screening, lighting, compatibility with adjoining uses and traffic generation. These Exceptions may be granted if certain criteria are met.

Who can apply?
Special Exceptions are initiated by the property owner.

When to apply?
Complete applications must be submitted at least 30 days before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) meeting. See the BZA schedule for meetings and application deadlines.

General Special Exception Timeline and Process

General Special Exception Timeline and Process Graphic
Note: Time is measured in calendar days

How to apply for a Special Exception:


Online: Go to our Building & Development Citizen Access Portal and follow the prompts; OR

Hard Copy: Complete and submit the Special Exception Application pdf icon

Staff at Town Hall will assist with the following:

  • Assign a Project Manager to oversee the application process.
  • Coordinate with the applicant regarding the Public Hearing date and status of application.
  • Notify the public of the Public Hearing through an advertisement in the newspaper and by posting a sign on the property.
  • Prepare a report listing Staff's recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Applicant is responsible for and is required by law to...

  1. Submit a narrative and other information necessary for the Board of Zoning Appeals to make a determination regarding the request, including, but not limited to the following:
    • The consistency of the proposed use with the Comprehensive Plan.
    • A narrative addressing the consistency of the proposed special exception use with the character and purpose of the zoning district in which it would be located.
    • In cases where a use is considered an adult entertainment use or business, the application shall contain any relevant information addressing the special location restrictions as described in Section 16-2-103.E.4 of the LMOexternal link icon.
    • The proposed density of such special exception use, expressed in terms of dwelling units or hotel rooms per net acre or total square footage per net acre.
    • Any relevant information regarding the traffic impact of such proposed use.
    • A sketch plan showing the preliminary proposed siting of structures or use on the subject property.
    • Notices to property owners within 350 feet regarding the Public Hearing date and time.
  2. Review Fee
  3. Instructions for the Public Hearing Notice to be sent to nearby property owners:
    • Addresses are listed with the Beaufort County Tax Assessor's officeexternal link icon in Beaufort (843) 470-2522.
    • Must be certified mailed at least 15 days before the public hearing; and
    • Must include the date, time and location of the public hearing. It is also recommended that details of the request be included.

Special Exception Review Criteria

The Board of Zoning Appeals shall approve an application for use by special exception if and only if the applicant shall demonstrate that the proposed use and any associated development:

  • Will be in accordance with the Comprehensive Planpdf icon;
  • Will comply with all regulations and standards that are generally applicable within the zoning district and that are specifically applicable to the particular type of Special Exception;
  • Will be compatible with the intensity, scale, and character of development existing or planned in the surrounding area;
  • Will not cause undue traffic congestion or create a traffic hazard;
  • Will incorporate preservation and protection of important natural features and not result in significant adverse impacts on the natural environment - including, but not limited to, water, air, noise, storm water management, wildlife, vegetation, wetlands, and the natural functioning of the environment;
  • Will not generate needs for transportation, water supply, sewage disposal, stormwater management, solid waste collection, fire and police protection, and similar public services that cannot be adequately handled by available or provided infrastructure and facilities;
  • Will not substantially injure the value of surrounding properties; and
  • Will not materially endanger the public health or safety.

Action by the Board of Zoning Appeals

  • After review of the application and the public hearing, the Board of Zoning Appeals will make a written finding and give its approval; approval with modifications or conditions; or disapproval to the request.
  • Once BZA has made their decision, the Project Manager will notify the applicant.
  • If approved, or approval with modifications or conditions is granted, the applicant is authorized to submit a development plan application.

Please refer to Section 16-2-103.E of the LMOexternal link icon for more details.

For questions regarding this procedure, please contact the Community Development Information Center email icon at 843-341-4757.