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Johnston County, North Carolina
Planning and Zoning Department


Zoning and Rezoning Information

Johnston County adopted a county-wide zoning ordinance 1992. Every parcel of land has a specific zoning designation which carries certain allowable uses. The purpose of zoning, and its associated regulations, is to achieve compatible development of land within the county. This should be done in a manner that promotes public health, safety, and the general welfare. Zoning should also promote efficiency, energy conservation, and economy in development as well as make adequate provisions for vehicular traffic, promote desirable living conditions and stable neighborhoods.

A majority of the county is zoned Agricultural-Residential (AR) which allows for single and two-family housing and farming uses. The intent of the AR zoning district is to encourage the continuance of agricultural uses as well as to ensure that residential development will occur at sufficient densities to provide for a range of housing opportunities throughout the county. The regulations also are intended to ensure that residential development having access and connectivity to public water and sanitary sewer systems will occur within a healthful environment.

If your property's zoning designation and permitted uses do not coincide with your desired use, you will likely need to rezone all or part of your property prior to beginning any development or construction. Read the step-by-step description of the rezoning process. The process generally takes four months from start to finish.

Helpful Steps:

Home Occupations

A home occupation is an occupation customarily conducted for profit within a dwelling unit by the occupant of the dwelling unit. Home occupations are subject to limitations and regulations as set forth in the Johnston County Land Development Code. Further, not all home occupations are permitted in residential districts. If you have questions regarding your proposed home occupation, or to obtain a Home Occupation Zoning Letter, please contact a Planner at (919) 989-5150.

Home occupation means an occupation customarily conducted for profit within a dwelling unit by the occupant(s) of the dwelling unit. Examples of permitted home occupations include, but are not limited to, home offices, sewing/tailoring, artistic painting, sculpting, crafting, tutoring, catering, barber/beauty shops.

Provisions for Home Occupations

Home occupations are subject to the following provisions:

  • The use of the dwelling unit for the home occupation shall be clearly incidental and subordinate to its use for residential purpose by its occupants, and;
    • Not more than 500 square feet or 25 percent of the dwelling unit floor area, whichever is greater, shall be used to conduct the home occupation, and
    • If an accessory building is solely used or used in combination with the dwelling unit for the home occupation, the maximum area allowed shall not exceed the limitation above.
  • There shall be no change in the outside appearance of the building or premises, or other visible evidence of the conduct of such home occupation other than one sign, not exceeding four square feet in area, non-illuminated, and mounted flat against the wall of the building.
  • Only one person other than the occupants of the dwelling unit may be engaged in such occupation.
  • Only one vehicle designed or used for the home occupation shall be permitted in the operation of the home occupation. The vehicle shall not exceed 14 feet in height. Cargo area/work platform shall not exceed 14 feet in length. Dump trucks, tractor-trailers, tankers, and wreckers shall not be permitted.
  • No traffic, parking, sewage, or water use shall be generated by such home occupation in greater volumes than would normally be expected in a residential use
  • No equipment or process shall be used in such home occupation which creates noise, vibration, glare, fumes, or electrical interference detectable to the normal senses off the lot, or that otherwise creates a hazard or nuisance.
  • No display of products shall be visible from the street.
  • The selling of merchandise or the manufacture of merchandise for sale (except baking, sewing, and/or crafts normally made in the home) shall not be the primary function of the home occupation.
  • Instruction in music, dancing, or tutoring of academic subjects shall be limited to four students at a time.
  • No home occupation due to type of use, equipment, or machinery shall be permitted that involve a change in the fire rating of the structure or portion of the structure.
  • If it is determined that the proposed home occupation does not meet this criteria, the applicant may apply for a conditional permit from the board of adjustment.
  • The following are prohibited as home occupations:
    • Animal hospital or clinic
    • Automotive repair, mechanic
    • Automotive repair, paint or body work
    • Child daycare facilities
    • Horse stables
    • Mortuaries
    • Physician, Dentist, or Chiropractor offices
    • Kennels
    • Food sales (excludes catering)

Home Day Care

Home day care and group care facilities are permitted uses in residential zoning districts. However, if the establishment provides for care or resident services of seven or more individuals, the property must be rezoned to one of the zoning districts that will allow for such an establishment.

Group Care Facilities

Group Care Facility means an establishment qualified for a license by the state for the provision of resident services for individuals who are unrelated and who are handicapped, aged, disabled, or who are runaway, disturbed, or emotionally deprived children and who are undergoing rehabilitation or extended care, and who are provided services to meet their needs. Included in this definition are group homes for all ages, halfway houses, boarding homes for children, and convalescent and nursing homes.

Report a Zoning Violation

Page last updated: April 16, 2021

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Land Use Center
309 E. Market Street
Smithfield, NC 27577

(919) 989-5150
planning@johnstonnc.com