Development Services Department

The Planning and Zoning Division provides numerous services that relate to the well being and orderly development of the city. The Planning Department reviews and provides recommendations on all land use matters presented to the Planning Board and Board of Adjustment . The Planning Department also reviews plans of development for compliance with various City ordinances and is responsible for enforcement of the City’s Subdivision  and Zoning Ordinances.

The Planning Division administers activities for zoning compliance, development plan review, subdivision of property,  annexations, long range planning, historic preservation, downtown revitalization, economic and community development within the City of Washington's Jurisdiction.   It is important to note that the City's Zoning Authority extends one and one-half (1 1/2) miles outside of the city limits, which is Washington's extraterritorial jurisdiction.


The City of Washington's, Planning and Development provides guidance for matters of land and building development through the review and approval process.  The purpose of the staff is to accomplish this goal by completing the following under the guidance of Unified Development Ordinance:

  • Assist the public in their compliance with the Zoning Ordinance
  • Review development proposals for compliance with the Zoning Ordinance
  • Processing Zoning Permits, Special Use Permits, Sign Permits, Zoning Code Text Amendments and Rezoning Requests
  • Review Site Plans, Preliminary & Final Plats
  • Respond to citizen complaints and inquiries associated with land use activities
  • Assisting the City Council of other Commissions

The Department staffs the following boards and commissions:

  • Planning Board
  • Board of Adjustment
  • Downtown Washington Development Commission
  • Historic Preservation Commission

Zoning Information

Zoning is the regulation of land uses to promote orderly growth, separate incompatible land uses, preserve the character of communities, protect property values, protect natural resources, and promote economic development. The city's Zoning Ordinance and Official Zoning Map provide the standards for zoning in the city limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). Development of property in these areas must meet Zoning Ordinance standards on permitted uses, dimensions, parking, signage, landscaping, and other criteria.

Community Development

Community revitalization grant programs administered in the city limits include Community Development Block Grant and Housing Development Grant projects. City staff also make referrals for assistance to other agencies.

Fair Housing Complaint Procedure

Any person or persons wishing to file a complaint of housing discrimination in the City may do so by informing Mike Dail, Director of Planning and Development, City of Washington, 102 East Second Street, P. O. Box 1988, Washington, NC  27889. Phone: (252) 975-9384, TDD: 1-800-735-2962, of the facts and circumstances of the alleged discriminatory act or practice;

Upon receiving a housing discrimination complaint, the City shall inform the North Carolina Human Relations Commission (Commission) and the complainant about the complaint within ten (10) calendar days of receipt for conciliation and resolution. The City shall then assist the Commission and the complainant in filing an official written housing discrimination complaint with the Commission, pursuant to the State Fair Housing Act and Title VIII;

Applicants should print out and complete all pages of appropriate application.

  • Special Use Permit Application
  • Rezoning Application
  • Variance Application
  • Subdivision Variance Application
  • Application for Administrative Hearing
  • Request for an Amendment to the Zoning Ordinance
  • Home Occupation Form
  • Change of Use Form
  • Official Rezoning Protest Petition

Planning Department Staff