Special Exception Process

Some types of construction on a residential site or structure are permissive. All construction requires a building permit, before starting, from CABQ Planning at 600 2nd St. NW.

Work that is not permissive requires a Special Exception in one of several categories:

  • Conditional Use
  • Variance
  • Wall Permit-Major

These special exceptions require a public hearing by CABQ Development Review Board (DRB) or Zoning Hearing Examiner (ZHE). This process also begins with CABQ Planning at 600 2nd St. NW.

If a property owner wishes to pursue a Special Exception they make application at the location above, pay a fee, and get a date for their hearing. The applicant is required to email affected neighborhood associations at that time. Before the hearing the applicant is required to post a large yellow sign on the property. The board or examiner advertises the hearing in the ABQ Journal.

The decision rests with the board or the examiner. Part of the process, established in CABQ ordinance, is that affected neighborhood associations are invited to offer a position on the request.

The Neighborhood Association encourages applicants to contact nearby neighbors early in the process to foster dialog about balancing the applicant’s needs with the rights of nearby neighbors and the need to preserve important elements of neighborhood character. The association is happy to address questions from all who email theboard@nobhill-nm.com

Association Position

The association develops its position at a public meeting of the Board of Directors several days before the hearing as posted on this web site. These positions are intended to reflect the association’s purposes in its bylaws and balance interests of the applicant, nearby neighbors, and the neighborhood as a whole. The association uses a deliberative process intended to develop the position of the majority while respecting the views of the minority.

For this meeting the association asks the applicant to provide:

  • A letter outlining the request
  • How the request is covered in Part 14-16-6 of the Integrated Development Ordinance
  • A dimensioned site plan
  • Photos
  • Any letters or petitions from nearby neighbors
  • Applicant’s email address

The discussion format is:

  • Applicant: 5 minutes
  • Neighbors, in support or opposition: 5 minutes
  • Discussion and questions by board: 10 minutes
  • Board vote

Time target is 20 minutes per request.

Common questions that the applicant should be prepared to answer include:

  • How the request is covered in Part 14-16-5 of the Integrated Development Ordinance, Development Standards
  • How the request is covered in Part 14-16-6 of the Integrated Development Ordinance, Administration and Enforcement
  • How have nearby neighbors been contacted?
  • What is their position?
  • Has the applicant considered all options to implement the project without a special exception?

The board will develop and vote on a motion expressing the association’s position and will email the position to the applicant and the hearing officer before the hearing.

NHNA Policies on Special Exceptions

The association develops and refines policies to facilitate broader neighborhood understanding and consensus around special exception requests. We hope these policies will lead to association positions that are consistent from request to request. We encourage property owners to consult these as they consider modifications to their property:

One policy has been adopted for evaluating special exception requests for walls and carports in front yard setbacks: Policy of Nob Hill on Walls and Carports Adopted 5-12-2006.

The Integrated Development Ordinance, in Part 14-16-3, establishes Historic Preservation Overlay Zones in certain areas where modification of residential sites and structures is regulated by the Landmarks Commission. Nob Hill does not contain any such zones at present.

A purpose of the association, confirmed by its community over decades, is to preserve Nob Hill’s historic character.  Successful historic districts continue to portray the architectural design principles of their period of development; in our case 1916 to WWII. The association encourages property owners to understand these principles and to plan maintenance, remodeling, or additions that preserve and are sensitive to that historic character.

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