Administration | Finance



How to Apply for a Conditional Use Permit

A Conditional Use Permit (also called a C.U.P.) is a type of land use permit issued by the City of Exeter for the establishment of certain types of land uses listed in the Exeter Zoning Ordinance.  Conditional uses are certain uses which, because of their unusual characteristics, or their potential to affect the surrounding neighborhood, require special review by city staff and the Planning Commission.

A Variance is a type of permit granted by the Planning Commission which allows a person to deviate from a standard of the Exeter Zoning Ordinance.

The Zoning Ordinance is a set of laws governing land use and the development of property within Exeter.  Interested persons can obtain a copy of the ordinance, for a fee, at the Exeter City Hall.  The Zoning Ordinance was passed into law by the Exeter City Council.

Please note that not all regulations of the Zoning Ordinance are subject to a variance.  For example a person cannot request a variance to allow a use not listed as permitted in a certain zone district.

Interested persons are encouraged to meet with the City Planner prior to submitting an application.  This can be done by telephone or by visiting City Hall.  During this meeting, you can discuss the process and important development standards (setbacks, parking, landscaping, etc.) that will apply to your project.  You can also determine whether your project is subject to environmental review (see Environmental Review below).  Such a preliminary meeting will help to streamline the development process.  You can reach the City Planner at 559.592.5558 or 559.734.8737.

Application Materials

Application packets are available at Exeter City Hall, along with a checklist of the materials that must be submitted for a complete application, including the applicable processing fee.

Application Submittal

Upon submittal of the application materials listed in the application package, staff will determine whether the application is complete. Staff will notify you if additional items are required for a complete application.

Environmental Review

Certain land use actions are required to be reviewed for their potential effect on the environment under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  If your project requires this review, you will be notified by staff.  A separate fee is required for environmental review.  Upon review of your application, staff will make one of the following three determinations regarding environmental review:

  1. That the project will not have a significant impact on the environment; or
  2. That the project could have a significant impact on the environment but that certain mitigation measures have been incorporated into the project to preclude the impacts; or
  3. That the project could have a significant effect on the environment and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) must be prepared.  To the extent possible, environmental review of your project will occur concurrently with processing of the C.U.P. or Variance, however, if an EIR is necessary, action on the permit will be deferred.  For more information on environmental review, please ask staff.  Please note that many projects requiring a C.U.P. or Variance are exempt from environmental review.  Check with staff to make sure.
Decision on the Project

After the application is determined to be complete, staff will schedule a public hearing before the Planning Commission.  By law, staff must mail notice of the project to surrounding property owners.

At the public hearing the Planning Commission will hear a report from the staff and from any interested members of the public (including the applicant).  The Planning Commission may move to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the project.  In order to approve a C.U.P. the Planning Commission must make the following findings:

1.  That the proposed establishment, maintenance and operation of the use applied for will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare of the persons residing or working in the neighborhood of such proposed use, or whether it will be injurious or detrimental to property and improvements in the neighborhood or the City.

2.  That the proposed use is consistent with the Exeter General Plan.

3.  That the environmental document prepared as per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has been considered prior to a decision.

4.  That the site for the proposed use is adequate in size, shape and location to accommodate the use as it relates to the district for which the use is proposed.

In order to approve a Variance, the Planning Commission must make the following findings:

1.  That any variance permit granted shall be subject to such conditions as will assure that the adjustment authorized shall not constitute a grant of special privilege inconsistent with the limitations upon other properties in the vicinity and district in which the subject property is situated.

2.  That because of special circumstances applicable to the property, including size, shape, topography, location or surroundings, the strict application of the zoning law is found to deprive subject property of privileges enjoyed by other properties in the vicinity and under identical zone classification.

3.  That the granting of the variance permit will not be contrary to the intent of this ordinance or to the public safety, health and welfare or injurious to other properties in the vicinity.

4.  A variance has not been granted for a use or activity which is not authorized by the zone regulations governing the parcel of property.

5.  A variance shall not be granted on economic grounds.

The decision of the Planning Commission on a C.U.P. or Variance is final unless appealed to the City Council.  Upon approval of a C.U.P or Variance, the applicant may proceed to apply for building permits (if necessary).


The applicant or any dissatisfied person may appeal the decision of the Planning Commission to the City Council. Any decision by the City Council is final.


It is important to recognize that all application fees are non-refundable after substantial processing has occurred, regardless of whether the C.U.P. or Variance is approved or denied. It is, therefore, strongly recommended that applicants utilize the preliminary review option previously discussed. The Planning Department will be happy to help you through the C.U.P. or Variance process. Please feel free to contact the Planning Department if you have any questions regarding this process or if you have any questions regarding planning regulations in Exeter.

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