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Subdivision Ordinance

The Buncombe County Land Development and Subdivision Ordinance was adopted to establish procedures and standards for the subdivision of land within the jurisdiction of the County, as well as to provide for orderly growth and adequate provision of streets, water, and sewage disposal.

Types of Subdivisions

Major Subdivisions (11 lots or more) are reviewed and granted preliminary approval by the Buncombe County Planning Board. New complete subdivision applications must be submitted thirty (30) days prior to the Planning Board meeting date.

Minor Subdivisions (4-10 lots) are reviewed and granted preliminary approval internally by the County Planning Department.

Special Subdivisions (3 or fewer lots) will be reviewed within 3 working days. Any special subdivision that creates a private road, the lots created are served by a private road, or creates or utilizes a private driveway that serves more than two lots, must be reviewed and approved by the Buncombe County Fire Marshal. Please contact the Fire Marshal’s office at 250-6620 prior to bringing in the plat to the Buncombe County Planning Department. Any further subdivision (above 3 lots) that occurs within three years from the date of recordation shall be considered a minor subdivision and are reviewed as such.

Family Subdivision (5 or fewer lots) will be reviewed within 3 working days. The resulting lots are to be conveyed to a linear relative within the 2nd degree of kinship or closer. No more than one lot shall be conveyed to each individual relative. Any family subdivision that creates a private road, is served by a private road, or creates or utilizes a private driveway that serves more than two lots, must be reviewed and approved by the Buncombe County Fire Marshal. Please contact the Fire Marshal’s office at 250-6620 prior to bringing in the plat to the Buncombe County Planning Department for review. Lots within a family subdivision may not be further subdivided for three years after the date of the recordation of final plat creating said subdivision.

Please be aware that the Buncombe County Planning Department uses the total number of lots resulting (not just the number of new lots created) after a subdivision of land to determine which level of review (Special, Minor, Major) will take place. This would include any adjoining lots that the subdivider owns, and can therefore subdivide at a future point. The parcel(s) being subdivided will include parcels that are part of a larger common plan of development or sale, even though multiple, separate or distinct entities own the parcel(s) and/or tract. Number of subdivision lots is cumulative, and if an applicant creates a subdivision and then at a future time divides lots further, the original lots created count towards the resultant number of lots.

Exempt Subdivisions are defined by Section 70-5 of the Subdivision Ordinance. Subdivisions exempt from the Land Development and Subdivision Ordinance, are not exempt from other ordinances administered by the County or other governmental entities. If an exempt subdivision creates a private road, the lots created are served by a private road, or creates or utilizes a private driveway that serves more than two lots, it must be reviewed and approved by the Buncombe County Fire Marshal. Please contact the Fire Marshal’s office at 250-6620 prior to bringing in the plat to the Buncombe County Planning Department. Exempt subdivisions are still subject to any applicable requirements of the Buncombe County Zoning Ordinance.

Subdivision Ordinance

Please see January 2017 Changes to the Buncombe County Land Development and Subdivision Ordinance for an overview of changes made to the Ordinance on January 17, 2017 by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.

Subdivisions that meet all requirements of the Land Development and Subdivision Ordinance are not exempt from other ordinances administered by the County or other governmental entities. These ordinances include but are not limited to the following:

Agenda and Deadlines

Planning Board Meeting

Forms

The following forms may be required during the Minor or Major Subdivisions approval process:

Fees

Subdivision Approval Process

The subdivision approval process consists of three phases: preliminary plat approval, infrastructure installment, and final plat approval.

For more detailed information regarding the process see below:

Major Subdivision Preliminary Plat Approval Process

1. Pre-Development Conference
Prior to a preliminary plat being submitted a pre-application conference is required. Preliminary plats may be shown in order to receive general guidance but will not be submitted or accepted during the pre-application conference. General requirements of the Subdivision, Erosion Control, Stormwater Management, Zoning, Flood Damage Prevention, and Fire Prevention Ordinances will be discussed. Please contact Gillian Phillips at 828-250-4852 or gillian.phillips@buncombecounty.org to schedule a pre-development conference.

2. Submission of a preliminary plat
A preliminary plat shall be submitted for review and approval by the Buncombe County Planning Board. Staff will review plans prior to placing them on the Planning Board agenda. If the preliminary plans plainly do not meet the specifications and standards of the Subdivision Ordinance they will not be placed on the Planning Board agenda and the applicant will be required to submit revised plat.

3. Planning Board Approval of Preliminary Plats and Re-submittal of Plats
The majority of preliminary plats that go before the Planning Board are approved with conditions. After being granted preliminary approval with conditions by the Planning Board, the applicant must meet the conditions placed on the subdivision by the Planning Board. The applicant will receive a letter from the Planning Department indicating what conditions were placed on the subdivision. The applicant then must resubmit plats (if necessary) and any required additional information to staff for review and approval. The majority of conditions will be required to be met prior to any land disturbing activity occurring on the site.

If at any point during the subdivision development process changes are made to the approved preliminary plats the applicant must submit revised plats to staff for review. If a significant change has not been made to the approved plats, staff will approve the revised changes internally. If a significant change has been made, the applicant will be required to go back before the Buncombe County Planning Board for review and approval of the revised preliminary plats.

Minor Subdivision Preliminary Plat Approval Process

1. Submission of a Preliminary Plat
Minor subdivisions are reviewed internally by County Planning staff. Staff strongly recommends that prior to submission of a preliminary plat, the applicant schedule a pre-development conference to discuss the general requirements of the Subdivision, Erosion Control, Stormwater Management, Zoning, Flood Damage Prevention, and Fire Prevention Ordinances. Additionally, Staff encourages submittal of draft preliminary plats through email prior to making a formal submittal. Minor Subdivision preliminary plats will not be granted approval until all plan deficiencies are addressed. To schedule a pre-development conference or to email a draft preliminary plat please contact Gillian Phillips at 828-250-4852 or gillian.phillips@buncombecounty.org.

If the preliminary plat is not complete enough for staff to grant preliminary approval the applicant will be provided with a letter listing plat deficiencies and be given 60 days from the date of the letter to revise the preliminary plat. If new preliminary plats are not received with 60 days the submitted plats will be denied preliminary approval and the applicant must to submit a new application for preliminary approval and pay the required fee again.

2. Re-submittal of Revised Plats

The majority of preliminary plats are approved with conditions. After being granted preliminary approval with conditions by staff, the applicant then must resubmit plats (if necessary) and any additional required information to staff for review and approval. The majority of conditions will be required to be met prior to any land disturbing activity occurring on the site.

If at any point during the subdivision development process changes are made to the approved preliminary plats the applicant must submit revised plats to staff for review and approval.

Final Plat and As-Built Drawing Approval Process for Minor and Major Subdivisions

1. Guarantee of Improvements
If the applicant is planning to record lots in the subdivision prior to all infrastructure being installed, the applicant must furnish a financial guarantee prior to submitting a draft final plat. The guarantee of improvements and other required documentation shall be submitted to and approved by staff prior to submittal of a draft final plat.

  • In order to submit a guarantee of improvements the developer must have completed 25% (based on a professional engineer’s sealed cost estimate) of infrastructure improvements for the phase of the subdivision for which the guarantee applies.
  • All guarantees shall include a signed and sealed document detailing the cost of all communal infrastructure improvements and the continuing maintenance of the site prepared and certified by a licensed civil engineer. The document must include an itemized list of costs and an anticipated construction schedule for all work.
  • The guarantee of improvements shall be secured in one of the following forms:
    • A surety bond issued by any company authorized to do business in North Carolina.
    • A letter of credit issued by any financial institution licensed to do business in North Carolina.
    • A bond of the owner/developer by an official bank check drawn in favor of the County and deposited with the County.
    • Other form of guarantee that provides equivalent security to a surety bond or letter of credit (such as an official certified bank check for deposit or a certificate of deposit naming Buncombe County as the beneficiary).
  • Please note that Buncombe County will not accept any financial guarantee where collection of said guarantee, if required due to default, cannot be made at a local bank counter.
  • Guarantee shall be in the amount equal to 125 percent of the estimate.
  • All guarantees of improvements shall contractually stipulate a completion date that is at least 180 days past the expected completion date as stated in the approved construction schedule.
  • The owner/developer must submit a signed and sealed statement by a registered civil engineer licensed in North Carolina certifying that all work has been completed to the standards of the Land Disturbance and Subdivision Ordinance before the Planning Department will determine satisfactory completion of all guaranteed work.
  • Work not completed within 90 consecutive days following the stipulated completion date will be considered in default. The Planning Department will proceed immediately with a claim against the guarantee of improvements for all work in default.
  • Please contact Nathan Pennington at 828-250-4856 or nathan.pennington@buncombecounty.org regarding questions about financial guarantees.

2. Letter Certifying Completion of Infrastructure
Prior to a draft final plat or as-built drawing being submitted for review or a guarantee of improvements being released the applicant must submit a letter certifying that all communal infrastructure has been completed.

  • The letter must specifically state that the roads and shared private driveways within the subdivision have been completed and built to Buncombe County Land Development and Subdivision Ordinance standards.
  • Documentation must be provided that sewer and water lines are installed and turned over to the appropriate agency, or a letter certifying that those utilities are installed and have been built to the appropriate agencies standards must be submitted.
  • Additionally, the letter must also indicate that any shared well and septic systems and/or water have been completed and installed (if the Planning Department has not received verification from the appropriate governmental agency that water and sewer systems have been approved and installed to their specifications).
  • The statement must be signed and sealed by a civil engineer licensed in North Carolina. No subdivision road inspection will be scheduled until staff has received and accepted the letter certifying completion of infrastructure.

3. As-Built Drawing
An as-built drawing must be submitted and approved prior to a final plat being recorded. The requirements for an as-built drawing can be found in Sec. 70-40 of the Subdivision Ordinance.

4. Road inspection
Prior to a draft final plat being submitted for review or a guarantee of improvements being released, the applicant must schedule a road inspection with the Planning Department. A road inspection must be passed prior to a draft final plat being submitted for review. Please contact Gillian Phillips at 828-250-4852 or gillian.phillips@buncombecounty.org to schedule a road inspection.

5. Final Plat Procedure
Once a financial guarantee has been submitted and approved by the Department or a letter certifying completion of infrastructure and an approved road inspection has been completed a draft final plat may be submitted for review and approval. Only after a draft final plat has been approved by staff may a surveyor submit the mylar for final approval and recordation.

Notes for Subdivision Submittal

  • Multi-family or other such developments (i.e. planned unit developments, certain mixed-use developments, etc) may require a Conditional Use Permit in addition to Subdivision review and approval. Conditional Use Permits are approved by the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment. Requirements for Conditional Use Permit approval are set forth in the Buncombe County Zoning Ordinance.
  • Land disturbing activities meeting the thresholds provided for in the Stormwater and Erosion Control Ordinances must first apply for Stormwater and Erosion Control approval. No land disturbance may occur before approval of a preliminary subdivision plan by either the Planning Board or Planning Department, nor prior to approval by the Board of Adjustment if necessary. If plan approval is contingent on items relating to land disturbance, these items must be satisfied prior to the issuance of a Stormwater or Erosion Control Permit.
  • Land disturbing activity under a acre is also regulated in the Beaverdam Zoning District (BDM), the Steep Slope/High Elevation Overlay District, and the Protected Ridge Overlay District as part of the Buncombe County Zoning Ordinance as well as projects subject to the Hillside Development Standards of the Subdivision Ordinance.
  • Subdivision submittals are also subject to the Buncombe County Fire Prevention Ordinance (Chapter 30 of the Buncombe County Code of Ordinances), and to the review of the Buncombe County Fire Marshal. Please contact the Fire Marshal’s office at 250-6620 for more information.
  • The data necessary to create a Slope Analysis Map as required by Section 70-40(a)(5) of the Subdivision Ordinance can be found as follows (links would be the same as on current subdivision page):

For questions regarding the subdivision submittal process please contact:
Gillian Phillips at 828-250-4852 or gillian.phillips@buncombecounty.org