Rules of Order for the Zoning Board of Adjustment

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Originally Approved: February 14, 2011
First Amendment: March 5, 2013
Second Amendment: September 9, 2013
Effective: October 1, 2013


These rules are intended as guidelines for facilitating the conduct of meetings and business of the Zoning Board of Adjustment (hereinafter, ZBOA). 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).


In addition to the five regular board members, ZBOA membership includes alternate(s) as allowed by Town Code. These alternates are expected to attend all meetings and will be called upon to participate when any regular member is not present or is not eligible to participate.


The Town Council appoints a Chair. The ZBOA designates a Vice-Chair.  Both the Chair and Vice-Chair are authorized to sign written decisions of the ZBOA.

Council Liaison Role

Because of the quasi-judicial nature of the work of the ZBOA, a council liaison is designated solely to provide a point of contact for the ZBOA chair if the need arises.  Council liaison attendance at ZBOA meetings is discouraged to avoid the appearance of undue influence or conflict of interest.

Staff Liaison Role

The staff liaison shall be responsible for conducting all pre-application conferences with applicants and ensuring public hearing notifications are processed as described in Chapter 3 of the Land Development Ordinance.  Prior to the public hearing, the staff liaison shall complete a variance or appeal worksheet for distribution to ZBOA members.  The staff liaison shall introduce the case to the ZBOA at the public hearing. Following the decision by the board, the staff liaison shall prepare a letter for the applicant that provides notification of either the approval or denial of the case.

Staff Administrative Support Role

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

Teen Liason

The ZBOA shall not have a Teen Liaison.


Regular Meetings:  The town clerk shall work with the Staff Liaison to receive the ZBOA’s input about the preferred dates, times and locations of their regular meetings, and shall use this input to prepare a calendar year ZBOA meeting schedule. The Town Council shall adopt this meeting schedule.  All meetings and hearings of the board are open to the public. 

Special Meetings and 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 ZBOA’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 ZBOA 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, and do not include other opportunities for citizen comments.

The ZBOA 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 ZBOA to conduct special meetings include: a meeting outside the normal monthly meeting due to a large ZBOA agenda; an issue for the ZBOA’s decision that has critical timing issues that do not fit existing schedules, etc. 

Canceling Meetings: Quasi-judicial hearings often occur at regular ZBOA meetings. Canceling a regular meeting for lack of quorum may result in frustrations for members of the public who had planned to attend and give testimony, additional expenses for the Town to advertise new hearing dates, and additional staff time to attempt to communicate the cancelation to members of the public. In the event a quorum cannot attend a meeting, 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.

In instances where there is no business to come before the board and a scheduled meeting will not occur, the Staff Liaison shall notify the members and the town clerk at least 30 days prior to the regular meeting day. 


Electronic participation in ZBOA meetings that include quasi-judicial hearings is not allowed for members or the public. Electronic participation in ZBOA meetings conducted in the council chambers is not allowed due to additional staffing requirements. Electronic participation in ZBOA work sessions or special meetings that are conducted in other facilities (in lieu of 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 ZBOA meetings. The town clerk shall set up all conference calls. The Town staff providing administrative support to the ZBOA 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 ZBOA 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 2 of the 20 conference call slots for ZBOA members and the Council Liaison. In order to electronically participate in a ZBOA 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 2 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 2 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 ZBOA 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 ZBOA special meetings and work sessions. The town clerk shall set aside 18 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 ZBOA 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.

The Staff Liaison shall prepare a meeting agenda in cooperation with the chair or provide a proposed agenda for each meeting to be reviewed by the chair.  Any board member may, by a timely request of two weeks prior to a regularly scheduled meeting, have an item placed on the proposed agenda.  The current agenda and the draft minutes of the previous month will be posted online at least five (5) days prior to the next meeting date.


Any member electronically participating in the meeting shall not be counted for quorum purposes. If a quorum has not been met by the start of the meeting, then the chairman shall wait a minimum of 15 minutes for late arrivals, at which point the chairman has discretion to determine whether further time should be allowed.  If still not at majority, then the meeting shall be adjourned and rescheduled. 

For variance cases, five voting members must be present unless the applicant waives the requirement for five members and consents in writing to the hearing of the case by four members of the ZBOA. 

Action By The Board

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 by board members, and a vote must occur.  Adoption of motions shall be by a majority of the members present, unless otherwise required by statute. Any member electronically participating may not vote.


Board minutes shall reflect in the record all findings pertaining to each hearing, every resolution acted upon by the board, and all votes of members of the board upon any resolution or upon the final determination of any question, indicating the names of members absent or failing to vote.

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.  Amendments may be initiated by any board member, staff member, or other elected body.  Adoption of an amendment shall require an affirmative vote of a majority 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 with 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.