Special Uses

Solar energy power plant


Special Uses are activities that, because of their unique characteristics, potentially could generate greater impacts than uses permitted in a zoning district. Due to these greater impacts, special uses are not granted as a matter of course but must be reviewed and approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission at a public hearing.

While special uses and rezonings may seem similar, a special use only allows the specific use requested by the applicant in addition to any other uses permitted by right. It is often closely tied to a concept plan and specific site requirements, called conditions of approval. A rezoning, on the other hand, is much less specific and allows a whole range of uses permitted in the specific district.

Special Uses are most commonly used in Rural areas. There are 43 special uses listed in the rural zoning districts. RV parks, golf courses, airstrips, and firearm ranges are among the land uses that can be considered Special Uses.


Standards such as structure height, screening, paving, and setbacks apply to special uses as they do to all permitted uses. The Commission can modify or waive these standards or add standards if a good reason is provided.


Additional requirements related to public health, safety, and welfare can be imposed by the Commission. For example, they could adopt a requirement limiting the hours of operation of a use to daylight hours if it is in a residential area. Conditions are sometimes requested by other entities such as the County Engineering and Natural Resources and/or Health Departments. Or local agencies, as well as state or federal agencies may also request conditions. 


Prior to submitting an application for special use, potential applicants are required to have a pre-application meeting with planning staff to discuss their proposal as well as go over the Citizen Review Process, which is a mandatory process that notifies neighbors of the proposal, prior to application submittal. To schedule a pre-application meeting, please complete the Pre-Application Meeting Request Form (PDF) and email the County Planner. We will contact you to schedule a pre-application meeting at your convenience.

Once an application is submitted, the case planner will send notice by first-class mail to each owner of real property within a radius of no less than 300 feet of the subject parcel(s). Where there are potential compatibility concerns, the case planner may expand the mailed notification area to greater than a 300-foot radius at the time of application acceptance. A legal notice is placed in the local newspaper and posted on the property at least 15 days before the Commission meeting. A public hearing will be held by the Planning and Zoning Commission to accept input from people who support, oppose, or simply have questions about the project. After the hearing is closed, the Commission votes to approve, approve with conditions, disapprove or table the request.


The process will not begin until fees and all information needed to evaluate the Special Use are submitted. Acceptance of the application does not confer approval of the proposed use or site plan.

  • Application Form
  • Site Plan (PDF)
  • Citizen Review Report
  • Hazardous Materials Form, if applicable
  • Additional information as needed depending on the nature of the Special Use.

Commission meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 4 pm located in the:
Board of Supervisors Hearing Room
Building G
1415 Melody Lane
Bisbee, AZ 85603

The submittal deadline is 45 days before the Commission Meeting.

Special Use Authorization Appeals

An appeal against the approval or denial of a special use may be filed by the applicant, by any other person aggrieved in any manner by the decision, or by the County Zoning Inspector if the Inspector believes an error was made.

  • An appeal is filed by submitting a written notice of appeal to the County Zoning Inspector together with an appeal fee in accordance with the adopted fee schedule 
  • Upon receipt of an appeal, the County Zoning Inspector or designee shall compile the record of the proceeding and submit this to the Board of Supervisors with the appeal documents.
  • Notice of the public hearing shall be given in the same manner as the original application. 
  • Any submitted appeal will be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors at a public hearing to be scheduled within 60- calendar days of receipt of the appeal.
  • Following its deliberations on the date of the decision, the Board of Supervisors shall either affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of the Planning Commission. The factual and legal basis for the decision shall be specifically stated by the Board. 
  • The Clerk shall record the basis for the decision and shall provide a copy to the appellant, Special Use Authorization Applicant, and to the Planning Commission.
  • If the Special Use Authorization request is approved, the County Zoning Inspector shall issue the permit, subject to all applicable conditions.