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Planning & Development Services

Here you will find information, requirements, and permits for all aspects of starting a business in the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County.

For more information, please contact the county Permitting and Development Center at (505) 314-0350. At the center, permit technicians will work with each customer to review materials, intake applications, and process fees. A business license technician will also be available to assist with business licensing and renewal; and schedule inspections.

Business Registration Information

This ordinance clarifies minimum wage requirements for those who hold a county business registration license, or exercises control over wage, hours or working conditions of employees in the unincorporated area of Bernalillo County.

This chapter of the Bernalillo County Code prescribes minimum standards regulating building, mechanical, plumbing and electrical work; and maintenance of buildings and structures within the unincorporated boundaries of the county.

This chapter of the Bernalillo County Code establishes a joint City of Albuquerque/ Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board and defines their duties and powers; as well as permits and hearings.

This ordinance intends to prohibit unnecessary, excessive and annoying noises from all sources subject to its police power.

This division is intended to create standards for outdoor lighting so that its use does not unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of adjacent property owners, and with astronomical observations, and to promote energy conservation without jeopardizing safety, utility, security and productivity. The purpose of this division is to minimize light pollution, which has a detrimental effect on the night sky environment, interferes with the enjoyment of the night sky, and causes unnecessary illumination of adjacent properties.

This code sets out rules and regulations, fees, review schedules, hearings and penalties for environmental health issues in the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County, including restaurants, food processors, food sales, home-based food processing,  dwelling sanitation and safety, and public pools.

This ordinance sets the conditions to assess and collect impact fees.

This chapter of the Bernalillo County Code discusses the County Planning Commission and Neighborhood Associations.

These regulations provide for the control by the county of the subdivision of land to foster harmonious, orderly and progressive development of land.

Zoning, Building & Planning Department, Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, Planned Communities Criteria

The regulations and restrictions of this ordinance are designed to lessen congestion in the streets and public ways; to secure safety from fire, panic, flooding and other dangers; to promote health and the general welfare; to provide adequate light and air; to prevent the overcrowding of land; to avoid undue concentration of population; to facilitate the adequate provisions for transportation, water, sewerage, schools, parks, and other public requirements; to conserve the value of buildings and lands; and to encourage the most appropriate use of land throughout the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County in accordance with the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan.

  • Proposed Amendment to Zoning Ordinance – April 3, 2013

The proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Zoning Code is intended to add new language to the zoning code and provide a use category that is not currently defined in the zoning code. The term Off Premises Live Entertainment is proposed as a Conditional Use in the C-2 zone.  The addition of this term is intended to clarify existing language within the ordinance and offer administrative relief opportunities for certain types of outdoor music of activities. 

This request will be presented to the County Planning Commission (CPC) at the public hearing scheduled for April 3, 2013.

If you have questions or comments regarding this material, please contact:   

Enrico Gradi, Community Development Manager

111 Union Square St. SE, Suite 100
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102
(505) 314-0385

Please click here for the proposed amendment changes.

Please click here for the amendment description.

Please click here for answers to frequently asked questions about this proposed amendment.

Exceptional Property Usage


A variance is a discretionary waiver from the zoning requirements that allows property owners the ability to modify some of the standards listed in the Zoning Ordinance. These include requests for variance to the height, area, parking or density regulations of the ordinance. Examples where a variance might apply may be to build a gazebo in the back yard or to add a second story that exceeds the height requirement, or to allow the owner of an odd-shaped lot to reduce slightly the setback requirements in order to fit a building.

(All criteria must be met by applicant in order to apply for a variance.)

It is the burden of the applicant to prove:

  • There are peculiar, exceptional and unusual circumstances in connection with their land;
  • These circumstance are not generally found within the locality or neighborhood concerned; and
  • The variance is to the extent necessary to allow the owner reasonable use of the land.
  • Please click here for the zoning variance application packet.​
Conditional use

Conditional uses are expected, anticipated activities listed within each zoning designation of the Ordinance. Property owners are allowed to only make an application for a specifically referenced activity, and if approved, the conditional use does not change the underlying zoning of a property or a property or authorized other uses outside the scope of the request. An example of a conditional use may be a nursery school operating in an R-1 Zone (residential zone) or a church in an R-1 Zone.

(All criteria must be met by applicant in order to apply for a conditional use.)

 It is the burden of the applicant to prove:

  • The site for the proposed use is adequate in size and shape to accommodate the proposed use, including all yards, open space, walls and fence, parking areas, loading and unloading areas, landscaping and other features required by the ordinance.
  • The site for the proposed use can be developed in such a manner that traffic congestion or similar hazards will not be created; and
  • The proposed use will have no adverse effect on the neighborhood nor seriously conflict with the character of the area.
  • Please click here for the zoning conditional use application packet.
Administrative Amendments

Apply only to special use permits which have been previously approved by the Board of County Commissioners. The scope of these changes is limited to site layout, building placement, and/or a decrease in the overall area of the special use permit.

It is the burden of the applicant to prove:

  • The proposed amendment will result in an equal or less intense use of the land than that first approved by the Board of County Commissioners; and
  • No minimum requirement or additional requirement imposed on the development plan by the Board of County Commissioners will be modified. 
  • Please click here to access the administrative amendment application.
Appeal to County Board of Adjustment

The Board of Adjustment of Bernalillo County also serves as the County Planning Commission.

  • Please click here to access the Board of Adjustment application.
Appeal to County Commission

Any decision by the CPC can be appealed to the Board of County Commissioners.

  • Please click here to access the Board of County Commissioners appeal application.
Zonal Certification

Upon request, the Zoning Administrator will issue a written statement certifying the zone designation for a particular tract or lot located within the unincorporated area of the County.

  • Please click here to access the request for statement of zonal certification.

Business Permitting Information

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