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Contact Information:


Planning Division
101-A Mounts Bay Rd.
Williamsburg, VA 23185

Directions - Directory


P: 757-253-6685
F: 757-253-6822
HOTLINE: 757-259-4990




Hours of Operation


8 a.m. - 5 p.m.



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Special Use Permit


What is a special use permit, and why do I need one? The James City County (JCC) Zoning Ordinance allows certain land uses in each zoning district. Some uses are generally permitted and do not require any permits regulating the use of the land. However, some land uses require the issuance of a special use permit from the Board of Supervisors. The process of issuing a special use permit helps the Planning Division, Planning Commission, and Board of Supervisors take a closer look at a use. This includes the proposed use's compatibility with existing uses and surrounding development. A use may or may not be suitable at a specific location due to its intensity, disturbance, or appearance, among other factors.

What do I need to obtain a special use permit? Staff strongly recommends that you either submit a conceptual plan or set up a pre-application meeting to review the special use permit process and answer questions.

  • A properly completed and signed application form.  Please note that an incomplete or unsigned application will delay processing and may result in your case being placed later on the Planning Commission calendar.
  • A special use permit review fee. Contact the Planning Division at 757-253-6685 for a current fee schedule.
  • An explanation of why you are requesting the permit, and what use you propose for the property.
  • A special use permit submittal checklist. This is used as a guide to facilitate the application.

The checklist may require you to provide the following documents:

  • Traffic study
  • Adequate public facilities report
  • Archaeological assessment
  • Master plan
  • Stormwater management plan
  • Fiscal impact study
  • Water and sewer impact study
  • Environmental inventory


Development Plan Checklists

When can I submit an application? Applications must be submitted at least six weeks prior to a scheduled meeting in order to be placed on the Planning Commission agenda. The Planning Commission usually meets on the first Wednesday of each month. Please view the Planning calendar for a current meeting schedule.

How long will it take to process my application? An application will take a minimum of 12 weeks to review, depending on the time of your submittal and the Planning Commission meeting schedule. Processing will take additional time if the Planning Commission and/or the Board of Supervisors defer action on your case.

What is the procedure for obtaining a special use permit? Prior to the Planning Commission meeting, staff will review your application by making a site inspection and verifying the information on your application for compliance with County codes and ordinances. Staff will consider the impact of the proposed use on surrounding land uses and public welfare. Staff will also consider the use's compatibility with the JCC's Comprehensive Plan.  Additional County and State agencies will review and comment on your proposal. When all comments are received, staff will incorporate them into a report for the Planning Commission. Please note that staff may recommend placing conditions on your application that attempt to lessen any potential impacts caused by your proposal. Staff will notify you in advance of the meeting of any recommended conditions. You will receive a copy of the staff report, including any recommended conditions, in advance of the Planning Commission meeting.

The Planning Division will:

  1. Post a sign on the property indicating that a special use permit application has been filed for the property. This sign will be posted two weeks before the Planning Commission public hearing.
  2. Advertise the public hearing in a local newspaper both two weeks and one week before the Planning Commission public hearing.
  3. Send written notice to all adjacent property owners at least one week prior to the Planning Commission public hearing.  At the Planning Commission meeting, staff will present your request to the Commission and give their recommendation, including any conditions. After staff's presentation, you or your representative will have an opportunity to speak for 15 minutes. Then the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing where any citizen can speak about the application.  Representatives of groups may speak for 15 minutes and individuals may speak for five minutes. After the public hearing is closed, the Commission will discuss the application and make their determination. The Planning Commission will recommend approval, denial, or defer your request, and identify issues you should address before going to the Board of Supervisors. After the Planning Commission meeting, Planning staff will notify you in writing of the Planning Commission's decision.  Your request will then be scheduled for a Board of Supervisors meeting. The staff report may be changed to address any questions raised by the Planning Commission. The Board of Supervisors will hold a meeting very similar to the Planning Commission meeting. After the public hearing closes, the Board will discuss the application and vote to approve, deny, or defer your request. If your application is approved, staff will notify you in writing of the Board of Supervisors' decision, including any conditions on the permit, and send a copy of the resolution. If your application is denied, you will receive a letter, but there will not be a resolution.

Will I need any other permits after my special use permit is approved? You may need to submit a site plan, which is a process handled by the Planning Division. You may also need a building permit. Contact the Building Safety and Permits Division at 757-253-6626 to get information about applying for building permits. It is possible to have a site plan and a building drawing reviewed concurrently, but a building permit will not be issued until final site plan approval has been obtained. If clearing, grading, and/or installing utilities will be involved, you will need to contact the Engineering and Resource Protection Division at 757-253-6670 for a land disturbing permit.  Other than a land disturbing permit and building permit, a Health Department permit is required for plans proposing septic tanks and/or wells.  Developments with sewage pumping stations or well facilities also require approval from the State Health Department. If any kind of Health Department permit is required, you will have to submit plans to both the Planning Division and the Health Department. Call the Health Department at 757-253-4813 for more information.

If my application is denied, can I appeal the Board of Supervisors' decision? Yes. You can appeal the Board of Supervisors' decision to the Circuit Court. Call the Clerk of the Circuit Court at 757-564-2242 for information.

If my application is denied, can I try again at a later time? If the Board of Supervisors denies your request for a rezoning, you may not resubmit the application for one year unless the application contains significant differences.

How long is the permit valid? It depends. Time limit conditions may be placed on the permit.

Can a special use permit be processed at the same time as a rezoning application? Yes. Planning staff can process a rezoning application and a special use permit for the same project concurrently.

Special Use Permit


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