What is NCAZO? (North Carolina Association of Zoning Officials)

The primary objective of the Association is to encourage and promote the technical and legal quality of administration and of those engaged and interested in the field of Zoning Administration and Zoning Enforcement in the State of North Carolina; to aid in furthering public understanding and awareness in Zoning; and to speak as a representative of Zoning Administration and Zoning Enforcement in the State of North Carolina. To see that the private citizens and officials are more accurately informed as to reputable practices and interpretations of zoning problems involving the administration and enforcement of local Zoning Ordinances.

The intent of the Association shall always be to aid in the reputable and proper administration and enforcement of local Zoning Ordinances. The Association in the fulfillment of those purposes herein stated may affiliate with other Associations and Organizations.

How do I become a member?

Regular Membership – Regular membership shall be limited to N.C. Officials whose duties include enforcement and/or administration of Zoning Ordinances.

Associate Membership – Associate membership shall be available to any person concerned with the enforcement or administration of land-use development and related fields. Associate membership shall also be available to all Zoning Board of Adjustment members, Board Officer, and Attorneys. Associate members shall have no voting privileges nor hold any office.

Honorary Membership – Shall be awarded upon nomination and the affirmative vote of a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the full Board of Directors to any person who has made an outstanding contribution to zoning code enforcement or to this association. Honorary members shall have no voting privileges nor hold any office.

For membership information contact Membership Chair Elizabeth Blount at Elizabeth.Blount@ci.kinston.nc.us.

What are the dues?

Regular Membership – $75.00 ($60.00 yearly for each renewing member).

Associate Members – $50.00

NOTE:   For new members joining between July 1st and November 30th, the regular membership rate is $40.00 and the associate membership is $25.00 for the remainder of the calendar year.

What is a CZO?

A Certified Zoning Official (CZO) is a voluntary professional certification offered by The NCAZO and the School of Government.

How do I become a CZO?

Certification Criteria

Sponsored jointly by The NCAZO and the School of Government at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Course

The Zoning Official Certification Course is a week-long course that is designed for local government zoning officials seeking to be certified by the North Carolina Association of Zoning Officials. The course is designed to help students develop administrative skills in reviewing plans, inspecting sites, enforcing the ordinance, and providing service to customers. Special attention will be given to the enforcement of the ordinance in the field. The course will serve as both a prerequisite to and a review of the skills and knowledge upon which the zoning official certification program examination will be based.


The course generally includes a presentation of the following topics:

  • Office Practice and Record-Keeping
  • Maps and Geographic Information Systems
  • Investigative and Research Techniques Field Inspections
  • Legal Issues in Field Enforcement
  • Inspector and Local Government Liability
  • Communication Skills
  • Dealing with Conflict
  • Enforcement Actions
  • Ethics

Further information is available on the Zoning Certification page in the short course section of the SOG Resources portion of the NC Planners web page. A course application is also posted on that page before each course offering.


In order to qualify for the certification course, a candidate must have completed any of the prerequisite courses.

The prerequisite courses are: Introduction to Zoning in NC (prior to 2013) OR Foundations in Planning & Development Regulation and Zoning Practice. Initial questions of eligibility shall be determined by the School of Government faculty member who serves as the course director.  Appeals of their decisions shall be made to the Committee. The requirement that a prerequisite course be completed may be waived if a potential candidate has shown acceptable experience and knowledge in the field.  The course administrator shall have the authority to allow this exception.

Examination Certification

No person is eligible to sit for the examination unless he or she has completed the certification course. To complete the course, a student may miss no more than the equivalent of one full day of the course. No certificate will be awarded simply for completing the course.

However, the NCAZO will award a special certificate to those who pass the certification examination. Each person who attends the course will be expected to take the examination.

Application and Enrollment

Application forms, when available, may be obtained online at the Zoning Certification page in the short course section of the SOG Resources portion of the NC Planners web page or by writing:

Local Government Zoning Official Certification Course
Knapp-Sanders Building
Campus Box 3330
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3330

Materials – A notebook of materials will be distributed to each student at the beginning of the course.

Faculty – The faculty coordinators for the course are Dave Owens and Adam Lovelady with the School of Government. They, and other faculty members, private consultants, and local government zoning practitioners, will present the program.

Location – The course is generally held in Chapel Hill.

Lodging Information – Accommodations are available at a number of motels in the Chapel Hill/Durham area. A list of these will be sent to accepted applicants.

How can I get involved in NCAZO

You can contact any Board member concerning volunteering and participating in the association. The contact information for the NCAZO Board of Directors is available here.

What about Continuing Education?

Certification Maintenance

The Zoning Officials Certification Program is a voluntary certification for local government zoning officials in NC sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Zoning Officials (NCAZO) with the assistance of the School of Government at Chapel Hill. Recognizing the need to promote continuing professional development of zoning officials in North Carolina, in 1989 the NCAZO Board of Directors discussed the possibilities for a certification program. On August 8, 1990, the certification committee presented its report to the Board of Directors.

The first course was held May 20, 1991. Since the May 1991 course, 431 individuals have become Certified Zoning Officials. To maintain the purpose of the certification program and keep the level of competency and proficiency among zoning officials, and to promote the continuing professional development of zoning officials, the Certification Committee has recommended to the Board of Directors that a certification maintenance program be established. With the ever changing profession, and to stay abreast of innovation in land use laws, construction, environmental laws, and development trends, there is a need to ensure that certified zoning officials expand their knowledge. Through conferences, workshops, and other zoning related training, this goal can be accomplished.

The required hours of continuing education will be eight (8) hours every two years for all Certified Zoning Officials that have successfully completed the certification course.  The eight (8) CM hours will begin immediately after the students have taken and passed the certification course and exam.  This becomes their certification date.  Sessions for maintenance must be designed to meet zoning and related land use fields.  Topics such as investigative techniques, enforcement equipment, personal safety, mapping and GIS, office practices, conflict and difficult situations, public record law, flood plain, and field enforcement are among the various issues the Certification Committee and the Board of Directors approve and prepare for presentation at workshops and conferences.

Questions about approved providers or sessions for approval may be submitted to any Certification Committee Member and that Committee member shall forward questions to the entire committee for review and approval. Any individual may appeal the decision of the committee.

An appeal form will be mailed to them, or one can be downloaded from the NCAZO web site. Honorary and retired certified zoning officials will be exempt from the maintenance requirement. Any certified zoning official that does not obtain the minimum hours of credit will be notified in writing from the Certification Committee Chair that the individual will no longer be recognized as a Certified Zoning Official. If the individual wishes to become a certified zoning official, they must successfully pass another certification course.

For More Information, please contact your Board Member Representative.

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