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Approved: November 18, 2013

Effective: November 19, 2013

Supersedes:  December 19, 2011


These rules are intended as guidelines to facilitate the conduct of meetings and business of the Planning and Zoning Board (hereinafter, PZB). These rules of order are adopted in accordance with, and pursuant to, Policy Statement 150, General Rules of Order for Town of Cary Boards and Commissions and Other Groups Appointed by the Town Council of the Town of Cary (hereinafter, Policy Statement 150), and pursuant to Section 2, Article V., Boards and Commissions and Authorities, of the Town of Cary Code of Ordinances (hereinafter, Code of Ordinances).

Council Liason Role

Unless requested otherwise by the PZB, the council liaison shall attend the board’s meetings as needed or at the request of the PZB to ensure the board focuses on its mission and role, to provide council input when needed, and to stay abreast of PZB activities. The council liaison for the PZB follows Policy Statement 150. The PZB shall allow the Council Liaison a minimum of five minutes at each work session to make comments about Town issues applicable to the PZB. The Council Liaison is encouraged to prepare comments in advance of the meeting to maximize the limited meeting time.

Staff Liason Role

The PZB’s Staff Liaison follows Policy Statement 150. The Staff Liaison attends PZB meetings and serves as a conduit for communication between the PZB, staff and Council. The Staff Liaison also serves as a resource for the PZB. The PZB shall allow the Staff Liaison a minimum of five minutes at each work session to make comments about Town issues applicable to the PZB. The Staff Liaison is encouraged to prepare comments in advance of the meeting to maximize the meeting time.

Staff Administrative Support Role

Town staff shall assign a staff member to carry out the administrative responsibilities of the PZB, including, but not limited to, attending regular meetings and preparing minutes.

Teen Liaison

The PZB shall not have a Teen Liaison.


Regular Meetings:  The town clerk shall work with the Staff Liaison to receive the PZB’s input about the preferred dates, times and locations of their regular meetings, and shall use this input to prepare a calendar year PZB regular meeting schedule. The Town Council shall adopt this meeting schedule. As appropriate for each agenda item and as specified in the Land Development Ordinance (LDO), the PZB shall conduct public hearings on certain matters.  All meetings and hearings are open to the public. 

Special Meetings or Work Sessions:  All special meetings and work sessions shall comply with state law requirements. The Staff Liaison and Chair shall work together to call for special meetings and work sessions when necessary to conduct the PZB’s business.  The Staff Liaison shall provide details about the special meeting or work session to the members and town clerk at least five business days before the meeting.  The town clerk shall issue appropriate notice of all special meetings and work sessions according to state law. All special meetings and work sessions are open to the public.

Work sessions are less formal business meetings that enable the PZB to focus on and explore in detail a particular topic(s). Citizens are encouraged to attend and observe these meetings. These meetings do not include public hearings or other opportunities for citizen comments. Work sessions are scheduled on the council-approved calendar year meeting schedule, and if a particular meeting is not needed, then the Staff Liaison cancels it (see canceling meetings below).

The PZB may handle any issue that would otherwise be on a regular meeting agenda at a special meeting. Some examples of when it is appropriate for the PZB to conduct special meetings include: a meeting outside the normal monthly meeting due to a large PZB agenda; an issue for the PZB’s recommendation that has critical timing issues that do not fit existing schedules, etc. Special meetings that include public hearings may have resource implications, since it is customary to televise these types of meetings. For this reason, the Staff Liaison and Chair shall not call special meetings that include public hearings unless absolutely necessary, and shall work with other Town staff in the early planning stages to ensure resources are available. 

Canceling Meetings:  Public hearings often occur at regular PZB meetings. Canceling a regular meeting for lack of quorum may result in frustrations for members of the public who had planned to attend and speak at the meeting, additional expenses for the Town to advertise new public hearing dates, additional staff time to attempt to communicate the cancelation to members of the public, and it may lengthen the development process by taking more time at the PZB level. In the event a quorum cannot attend a regular meeting or if there is no business before the board, the Staff Liaison and Chair shall work together to cancel the meeting. When the Staff Liaison and Chair cancel a meeting, the Staff Liaison shall advise the members and town clerk by phone or email as soon as possible.  The town clerk shall post a notice canceling the meeting. As a courtesy, any members who cannot attend a regular meeting shall notify the Staff Liaison as soon as possible and preferably two weeks prior to the meeting day.

Electronic Participation In PZB Meetings

Electronic participation in regular PZB meetings is not allowed for members or the public. Electronic participation in PZB special meetings or work sessions that are not televised and are not in the council chambers may be allowed at the discretion of the Staff Liaison and town clerk. Factors may include location, structure and format of meeting and available technology.

The Town has a conference call system that allows up to 20 individuals to electronically participate in PZB meetings. The town clerk shall set up all conference calls. The Town staff providing administrative support to the PZB shall ensure there is a telephone in the meeting room anytime anyone is electronically participating and shall be in the meeting room at least 15 minutes before the start time. Each person electronically participating shall call the designated number 15 minutes before the meeting start time and announce their presence to the Town staff. Anyone calling in after the meeting has begun shall announce their presence; however, the PZB shall not stop the meeting or recap any business that the individual missed. All persons electronically participating shall abide by etiquette guidelines provided by the town clerk to minimize meeting disruptions.

As the first item of business at meetings that include individuals participating electronically, the Chair shall call for a roll call and shall announce the names of the board members physically present to determine a quorum. The Chair shall then invite members who are electronically participating to introduce themselves. For the benefit of those electronically participating, any vote that does not receive unanimous approval shall be by roll call to ensure all participants fully understand how each member voted on any item.

Members and Council Liaison:

If the Staff Liaison and town clerk determine a special meeting or work session is suitable to offer electronic participation to Members, then those Members electronically participating shall adhere to Policy 150. The town clerk shall reserve 4 of the 20 conference call slots for PZB members and the Council Liaison. In order to electronically participate in a PZB meeting, these individuals shall make a request, preferably in writing, to the Staff Liaison at least two business days prior to the meeting to allow time to determine that a quorum will be physically present at the meeting. The Staff Liaison shall provide the town clerk the names and email addresses of the individuals who wish to electronically participate at least one business day before the meeting. The town clerk shall approve or deny these requests based on eligibility requirements in Policy 150. The town clerk shall follow up with these individuals to let them know if the request is approved or denied. If more than 4 individuals request to electronically participate in a particular meeting, this shall be allowed if a quorum will still be physically present and if the general public has not taken the remaining 16 conference call slots. Requests shall be considered in the order the Staff Liaison receives them. The town clerk shall email the conference call information to the individuals approved to electronically participate. At that time, the town clerk shall release any of the unused 4 conference call slots to the general public.

General Public:

The Staff Liaison and town clerk determine which special meetings and work sessions are suitable to offer electronic participation to the public. The public’s electronic participation in PZB meetings is limited to listening; the public does not have an opportunity to speak at these meetings.

The town clerk shall serve as the point of contact for members of the public who want to electronically participate in PZB special meetings and work sessions. The town clerk shall set aside 16 of the 20 conference call slots for the public’s use. The public must contact the town clerk by Noon on the day of the meeting to reserve a slot and to receive the call-in information. The town clerk shall maintain a waiting list if necessary and shall assign unused PZB slots to persons on the waiting list on a first come/first serve basis.


The Town Clerk shall provide the Staff Liaison an agenda template to use for all agenda. This template shall include the following information for the public:

  • The Staff Liaison’s name and contact information;
  • An ADA statement addressing auxiliary aids and services; and
  • Instructions to electronically participate, if applicable.

Any member may request to place an item on the agenda. All member-requested agenda items shall be submitted the Staff Liaison and Chair a minimum of two weeks prior to the regular meeting.  The Staff Liaison and Chair will work together to prepare an agenda prior to every meeting. Town staff shall post the agenda with links to all supplemental agenda materials, and the draft minutes of the previous month on the Town’s website at least five business days before the meeting.  Members are encouraged to review the agenda and visit any locations indicated by agenda items. Members with any questions about agenda items are encouraged to contact the Staff Liaison prior to the meeting. Members shall adopt the agenda at the meeting after the Chair gives members an opportunity to suggest amendments. Adopting or amending the agenda requires a majority vote of the members physically present at the meeting.


A quorum is defined as more than half of the total membership. Any member electronically participating in the meeting shall not be counted for quorum purposes. The expectation for regular meetings televised in the council chambers is that all Members are in place at the appointed time. It does not reflect well on the Town for a televised meeting not to start on time. If a quorum is not present by the designated time, then the Chair shall wait 15 minutes for late arrivals.  If a quorum is not present, then no meeting shall occur. The Chair and Staff Liaison shall make the decision to reschedule the meeting if necessary.

Public Comment At PZB Meetings

One of the PZB’s important functions is conducting public hearings. The PZB does not provide a general public comment time at their meetings, other than the public hearings. The Town Council provides a public comment at all their regular meetings, and this is the appropriate venue for those public comments.

Action By The Board

General discussion may satisfy an agenda item, or general discussion may precede any motion. In cases where the board wishes to make a recommendation or take any other form of action, a motion and a second must be made, and a vote must occur. In keeping with proper rules of order, items will be open for discussion before any vote is taken. A motion shall be adopted by a majority of votes cast, unless otherwise required by state law or local ordinance. A majority is one more than half of the appointed members of the board used to create a quorum at any given meeting. All Members physically present at the meeting are expected to vote on all motions, unless recused by the Members for reasons outlined in the Conflict of Interest Guidelines. Any member who is physically present at the meeting and is not recused who fails to vote shall be counted as voting in favor of the motion.

Members who cannot attend a PZB meeting may email the chair their opinions about a particular case, and the chair will read the email into the record at the meeting if requested by the absent member.


PZB minutes shall include:

  • Date, time and location of meeting;
  • Names of members physically present;
  • Names of members electronically participating, if applicable;
  • Number of members of the public electronically participating, if applicable;
  • Names of members absent (those not physically present and those not electronically participating);
  • A statement that a quorum is physically present for the meeting;
  • A summary of what transpired at the meeting (minutes shall not be verbatim and generally shall not attribute specific comments to specific members except when explaining minority votes);
  • All motions and votes;
  • The actual vote of each member on all motions on all votes that are not unanimous;
  • An explanation of the minority opinion; and
  • Adjourn time.

PZB Report At Town Council Meetings

A PZB representative shall attend council meetings that include discussion items for council’s final consideration with a PZB recommendation. At this meeting the PZB representative shall give a brief report about the PZB’s recommendation, explain the minority opinion and answer council’s questions as needed.

Appointment Of Committees

The PZB may vote to establish ad-hoc committees from its Membership whenever necessary to facilitate the PZB’s business, with the understanding that committee’s are self-sustaining and not supported by staff, other than meeting the legal requirements (i.e., posting notice of meeting, etc.). The Chair shall designate committee chairs or delegate the decision to the committee. Committees shall abide by the general committee operating procedures provided by the town clerk. All ad-hoc committee meetings are open to the public.

Amendment Of The Rules

These rules may be amended at any regular meeting that includes amendment of the rules as an agenda item provided the amendment is consistent with the Town charter, bylaws, Policy Statement 150, general law, and generally accepted principles of parliamentary procedure. Adoption of an amendment shall require an affirmative majority vote of the board membership.

Conflicts With These Rules Of Order

To the extent not provided for in these rules and to the extent it does not conflict North Carolina law or with the spirit of these rules of order, the board shall refer to other applicable policies regarding rules for Town of Cary Boards and Commissions to answer unresolved procedural questions.

Any action taken by the Cary Town Council that supersedes these rules of order shall take precedence. Furthermore, boards and commissions bylaws, Policy Statement 150, North Carolina state laws, and federal laws and shall take precedence when conflicting with these rules of order.