Permits Without Zoning

Michael F. Easley, Governor  Logo of NC Department of Environment and Natural Resouces


William G. Ross, Jr., Secretary


RALEIGH - Businesses, industries and other air emissions sources must notify the public before applying for air quality permits for new or expanded facilities in areas without local zoning ordinances, under a rule that takes effect Thursday.

The N.C. Environmental Management Commission adopted the rule due to concerns about the construction of new industrial facilities, such as asphalt plants, in areas without zoning controls on land use. Controversies have arisen in some cases because citizens felt they were not notified before new facilities were permitted, although there were no legal requirements for public notification in most cases.

Under the rule, companies that plan to build new facilities or expand existing plants in non-zoned areas must publish newspaper ads and post signs on the site before applying for permits from the Division of Air Quality (DAQ). The requirement does not apply to areas with zoning controls because local ordinances would apply in such cases.

"Hopefully, this rule will relieve public concerns about industries locating in their neighborhoods without prior public notice," DAQ Director Keith Overcash said. "The Division of Air Quality has no control over land use, but this rule will allow citizens to contact their local officials if they have concerns about new or expanded facilities in areas without land-use controls."

The DAQ will not process air permits for facilities until they have met the notification requirements. A potential source must publish a legal notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the source would be located at least two weeks before submitting an air permit application. The notice should include: the name of the facility; name and address of the permit applicant; and a description of activities involved in the permit application.

Potential sources also must post signs on the property where the facility would be located at least 10 days before submitting an air permit application and for at least 30 days thereafter. The sign should contain: the name of the facility; name and address of the permit applicant; and a description of activities involved in the permit application. In addition, the sign should be:

  • At least 6 square feet in area;
  • Set outside but no more than 10 feet away from the road right-of-way;
  • Positioned so the bottom of the sign is at least 6 feet above the ground;
  • Large enough that a person could read the sign from the roadway;
  • Located so the lettering faces the road.

To view the actual rule or other information about air quality issues in North Carolina, visit the Division of Air Quality's web site.


Contact: Tom Mather 
(919) 715-7408

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