Frequently Requested Information
How do I find the zoning designation of my property?
There are a few ways to obtain your zoning information. If you have the address, parcel identification number (PIN) or Real Estate ID number (RID), you can go to Cary’s Virtual Interactive Planner (VIP) and click on “Search Property Information.” VIP will interface with the town’s Geographical Information System (GIS) and provide you with the necessary zoning, land use and other pertinent development related information.
If you do not have the address, parcel identification number (PIN) or Real Estate ID number (RID), you can search by clicking on the “Maps Online” link in the “Search Property Information” button and zoom in until you find the property.
Why does my zoning designation have the letter “P” at the end?
If you have looked up your zoning designation in the Wake County records, you may have a “P” following your zoning district (i.e. TRP or R-8P). The “P” refers to properties located within a Planned Development District (PDD) or in the Town Center (TCP). The actual zoning for the property is PDD or TC but since a PDD or TC parcel can contain a mixture of uses or lot sizes and dimensions, the property appraiser assigns it a tax equivalent zoning (i.e. TRP or R-8P) to provide direction on how to fairly tax the property based on an equivalent use of the land.
For more information on PDD and TC properties, please feel free to use Cary’s Virtual Interactive Planner (VIP) to find the parcel-specific zoning and links to PDD and other various documents.
Why does my zoning designation have the letters “CU” at the end?
If your zoning designation has the letters “CU” following the zoning district (i.e. TRCU or R-8CU). The “CU” refers to a Conditional Use zoning district, or zoning conditions tied to an individual property. To obtain information about the specific conditions tied to a property, please contact the Planning Department directly at (919) 469-4046.
As an added benefit to our business community, the Town now offers a free Development Liaison service to help you successfully navigate the development and permitting process. This new service is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our Development Liaison program primarily focuses on small business customers (less than 10,000 square feet or all businesses located in the Town Center).
Does Cary allow me to have chickens?
Yes. Read the latest rules on backyard chickens in Cary.
Does Cary allow me to keep bees or beehives on my property as a hobby?
Yes. Read the latest rules on domestic beekeeping in Cary.
What uses are allowed in my zoning designation?
For a list of permitted uses in your zoning district, please visit Cary’s Virtual Interactive Planner (VIP) and find your zoning. Once your zoning is identified (see How Do I Find The Zoning of My Property, above) click on the appropriate table of permitted uses under the “Useful Links” section at the bottom of the VIP screen. The appropriate table is identified next to the word, “Category” of your property information.
How do I go about starting a home occupation?
Home Occupations are permitted in all residential zoning districts with an approved Accessory Use Permit and Privilege License (unless exempt). For more information on Home Occupations, refer to Section 5.3.4(c) of Cary’s LDO, or contact the Planning Department at (919) 462-4046.
Tree trimming and pruning
No more than 33 percent of the canopy is to be pruned from shrubs and small trees, i.e. crape myrtles. If you have any question about tree pruning please contact the Planning Department at (919) 469-4046 or see A Guide for Business and Landscapers.
How many people can live in a single family home?
When determining how many people are allowed to reside in a single family dwelling, several considerations apply. Minimum housing representatives and zoning compliance officers determine the exact number of persons allowed to live in a single family home according to the International Building Code and the Land Development Ordinance.
One person or a group of persons related by blood or marriage, plus up to three additional unrelated persons are allowed in one dwelling. Beyond this requirement, there are square footage requirements for each individual living in the house. This is to be determined by minimum housing inspectors. Please contact the Planning Department at (919) 469-4376 with any questions.
How do I open a home day care?
Home day cares are permitted in almost all residential zoning districts with an Accessory Use Permit. For more information on home day cares, please view A Guide for Home Day Care Providers in the Town of Cary.
How do I report or remove a junked/aesthetic nuisance vehicle?
It is unlawful to store a junked/aesthetic nuisance motor vehicle on public or private property within the Town’s municipal boundaries.
A vehicle is classified as junked if it does not have a current license plate and at least one of the following is true:
- It is partially dismantled or wrecked
- It cannot propel itself or move in the manner in which it was originally intended
- It is more than 5 years old and apparently is worth less than $100
Owners of these vehicles may contact the Planning Department for details on how to get rid of them at no cost. To arrange for removal of your junked vehicle or to report one, contact the Planning Department at (919) 469-4046.
Who do I call about animal regulations?
Animal regulations are generally found in Chapter 6 of the Town Code, which is enforced by the Animal Control section of Cary’s Police Department. They handle matters such as barking complaints, animal bites, rabid animals and leash law violations.
How do I find out about approved development plans?
New developments, as well as changes to existing built sites, typically require approval of a development plan prior to construction. Development plans are reviewed by representatives from various Town departments for compliance with the Town's Land Development Ordinance and other development-related regulations and guidelines. These development plans may be either a site plan or subdivision plan and depending upon the type of proposed development and/or its location, may be approved by Council or staff.
The approved development plans are for information only, and should not be relied upon completely since changes are sometimes made before final construction is completed. Please call the Planning Department at (919) 469-4046 if you have any questions regarding development plans.
What can I put in an easement or right-of-way?
The Town of Cary requires setbacks for uses and structures that are proposed to be located within right-of-ways or easements. Typically, no encroachments (including landscaping) are allowed within an easement unless unique circumstances exist and approval is secured from the easement holder. If you have any questions about an easement or road right–of-way, please contact the Town of Cary Transportation and Facilities Department at (919) 469-4030.
When do I need a fence permit?
Fence Permits are only required if the fences are adjacent to a thoroughfare or collector roadway, or for fences exceeding eight feet (8’) in height. More information about fences can be found in Section 7.2.7 or the Town’s LDO.
Who do I contact if I have flooding concerns?
If you are experiencing flooding on your property due to new construction, contact storm water services at (919) 462-3932 for assistance.
Who do I contact for a grading permit?
Grading Permits are issued by the Transportation and Facilities Department. For specific information regarding grading permits and regulations, please contact the Engineering Department directly at (919) 469-4030.
Where can I find information on landscape/perimeter buffers?
These buffers are primarily located on the outer edge of developed properties. The purpose of the buffer is to aesthetically preserve the character and quality of life in the community, and functions as a boundary between property uses. All buffers, no matter what type, are protected in the corporate limits and extra territorial jurisdiction, and enforceable according to the Land Development Ordinance. For more information, contact the Planning Department at (919) 469-4046.
Who enforces the town’s noise regulations?
The Town of Cary Noise Ordinance is regulated by the Police Department. If you would like to alert the town to a potential noise violation, please call the Police Department non-emergency number at (919) 469-4012.
Political signs are covered in Section 9.3 of the LDO; refer specifically to Section 9.3.2(o). They are permitted on private property (with the property owner’s permission) and not within the public right-of-way or affixed to any improvement within such right-of-way (median, utility pole, traffic control device, bridge, guardrail, or other safety barrier), within a required sight distance triangle, or on Town property or buildings, except within specified proximity of polling places on Election Day under rules established by a county board of elections.
One sign is permitted per individual lot or parcel for each candidate for office or side of a ballot measure or issue; for a lot or parcel with frontage on a second street, one additional sign for each candidate for office or side of a ballot measure or issue shall be permitted.
Political signs may not exceed five square feet in area per sign face or 42 inches in height, except when a sign is erected in place of another type of sign permitted at that location, in which case it may be the same size and subject to the same conditions as such sign. Such signs, however, are required to follow the provisions of Section 9.4 (Prohibited Signs and Devices), 9.7 (Signs Not to Create Traffic Hazard), and 9.9 (Lighting) of this Chapter.
In addition, political signs are required to be removed within 10 days following the date of any election or other event to which it refers. However, signs for successful primary election candidates eligible for the general election may remain after the primary election. The property occupant or, in the case of unoccupied property, the property owner, shall be responsible for violations on a particular property.
Effective Oct. 1, 2011, the state changed its rules on political signs on state roads. Read more.
View a map of roads in Cary to see which roads are Town thoroughfares, state roads or privately-maintained streets.
Got questions or comments about the new state law? Contact the NC Department of Transportation at (877) DOT-4YOU
Where can I pick up political signs that have been removed by Town of Cary staff that did not meet the above regulations?
Signs can be picked up at Town Hall (316 N. Academy Street) on the third floor of the parking garage in the storage area labeled “Temporary Sign Storage.” For questions please contact our Contact Center at (919) 469-4046.
How do I get approval for special events/temporary uses?
Non-residential special events such as a race, walk/ride event, outdoor live band, grand opening, sale of agricultural products, ground breaking ceremonies, athletic events or similar type events require temporary use permit application approval. Due to multi-departmental review of the application, a temporary use permit application needs to be submitted at least two weeks prior to the event. Temporary Use Permits are limited to a set number of days per parcel based on the type of event. For more information, refer to Section 5.4 of the LDO, or contact the Planning Department at (919) 469-4046.
Streams in Cary are protected by 50-foot and 100-foot buffer widths depending on their classification. To learn more about how Stream Buffers may affect your property or to determine buffer width, contact storm water services at (919) 462-3932.
Grass, weeds and undergrowth on any property in the Town should not exceed a height of eight inches. If a property owner, lessee or occupant with control of a property fails, refuses or neglects to cut, destroy or remove such weeds within two days after receipt of notice to do so given by the Public Works and Utilities Department, then the Town, through its agents and employees, may enter upon such lot or premises for a depth of 50 feet from each abutting property line, and cut and destroy such weeds and undergrowth for a depth of 50 feet from each abutting property line. The cost and expense thereof shall be paid by the owner, lessee, occupant or agent, or it shall become a lien against such property in the same manner as for taxes. For more information on Tall Grass Regulations, please contact the Public Works and Utilities Department.
Top Questions Related to Signs in Cary
Where do I find information on signs in Cary?
Do I need a permit?
Yes, all permanent signs mounted on an external building wall or awning or installed in the ground require a permit. Certain temporary signs also require a permit. Signs internal to a mall or building do not require a permit.
How long does it take to get a permit?
Provided the application is complete, sign permits are processed within ten working days.
What is a Master Sign Plan and do I need one?
Planned Development Districts and multi-tenant sites such as office parks and shopping centers require a Master or Uniform Sign Plan that provides specific criteria for signs beyond the Cary Ordinance. Check with your landlord or property management company. If you know the name of the development, you may obtain a copy of the sign plan from the Town of Cary web site.
Can I use my logo?
Federally registered logos may be displayed in their trademarked colors, provided they do not exceed 20% of the allowable sign area. If the logo is not federally registered, then it must comply with the color, material and size specifications in the Master Sign Plan and Land Development Ordinance.
How much do permits cost?
A Wall Sign Permit is $50
A Monument or Ground Sign Permit is $75
A modification to an existing sign is $25
If the sign is illuminated, you will also need an electrical permit. The fee for that is $63.
How tall can my ground sign be?
The maximum sign height is 42 inches from normal grade.
Are Plexiglass Cabinet-style signs allowed in Cary?
No. This type of sign is not permitted for new signs. Also, ground signs are required to be architecturally compatible with the materials found in the building.
May I have a neon sign in the window?
For businesses located in the Cary Town Center (downtown) District or within Mixed Use Overlay districts, one neon-style sign may be displayed, provided it is no larger than two square feet and only illuminated when the business is actually open.
How many colors may I use on a sign?
Signs are limited to four colors. If one is required, those colors must comply with the Uniform or Master Sign Plan.
May I transfer my existing sign to a new location if I move?
Not if it does not match the Town's Ordinance and the Uniform or Master Sign plan, and not without a new sign permit.