Zoning Ordinance

Buncombe County first implemented community planning and zoning during the 1970s in the Limestone and Beaverdam communities.  The Board of Commissioners voted on December 1, 2009 to expand zoning throughout the County in order to implement sound comprehensive planning policies that will help ensure orderly growth and development while also protecting and preserving rural communities and agricultural land, as well as Buncombe County’s scenic beauty, natural resources, parks and open spaces.

The zoning districts and regulations are intended to guide development within the Metropolitan Sewerage District (MSD) service area by concentrating commercial, industrial, and multifamily developments along major corridors, thus allowing single family residential communities to maintain their residential neighborhood qualities.  In areas outside the MSD boundaries, properties have been designated Open Use (OU), which regulates only those uses which could have significant impacts on communities and surrounding properties, including, but not limited to, chip mills, asphalt plants, amusement parks, and hazardous waste facilities.  The zoning designation for an affected property gives reasonable consideration to the character of the community and suitability for particular uses.

Buncombe County Zoning Information

Find Your Zoning Designation(s) Online

When you access the County's GIS system simply:

  1. Select the type information you wish to search by in the upper left hand area.
  2. Enter the information you wish to search for.
  3. Select the result(s) below to zoom to the property.
  4. Close the pop up window.
  5. To see the current zoning of a property, select the zoning layer under “map layers” on the left hand side.

Agendas & Submittal Deadlines

Board of Adjustment

Planning Board Meeting


Certificate of Zoning Compliance and Lighting Affidavit

A Certificate of Compliance is required in order to obtain a Building Permit for any parcel with a zoning designation other than the Open Use District or for any parcel zoned Open Use and located within a zoning overlay district. The appropriate form must be signed by the Zoning Administrator or an authorized staff person. A copy will be issued to the owner and compliance information will be provided to Buncombe County Permits and Inspections. Forms are available at the Planning Department, or you may download the appropriate form here and fill out the form prior to your visit.

A zoning inspection will be conducted to determine that the structure was constructed per the information written on this form and any site plans provided at the time of application. Fees for the Certificate of Zoning Compliance vary based upon the type of review required; please see the certificate of compliance (zoning) section of the fee schedule for more information.

A lighting affidavit is also required to ensure that property owners are made aware of the recently adopted lighting standards. This affidavit is applicable to residential permits or commercial permits which do not involve exterior lighting components. There is no additional charge for the lighting affidavit, as it is part of the compliance process.

A plan of the proposed building (drawn to scale) may be required as a part of this application. If the property falls within the Beaverdam Zoning District or within a zoning overlay district, a plan showing the following may be required: the proposed building location, the location of areas planned to be disturbed and/or to have impervious cover, the calculated total acreage of these areas, the relationship of the area of disturbance to moderate and high landslide hazard areas, screening and/or revegetation required, and the relationship of the structure to property lines and any protected mountain ridges. An informational sheet regarding the preparation of a site plan for property located within either the Protected Ridge or Steep Slope/High Elevation Overlay Districts is available here.

Application for a Variance (PDF) or Conditional Use Permit (PDF)

Applications for Variances or Conditional Use Permits require a public hearing before the Board of Adjustment. A Conditional Use Permit must be obtained for conditional uses as outlined by the Permitted Use Table of the Zoning Ordinance.

Permits and Variances vary based on the number of parcels and parcel size; please see the zoning section of the fee schedule for more information. Applications must be submitted in full thirty (30) days prior to the Board of Adjustment meeting at which the applicant wishes to be heard.

If applying for a Conditional Use Permit, please be sure to provide the items required in Section 78-677 (d) Development Plan; Submission; Contents. Certain conditional uses must meet additional standards set forth in Section 78-678. If you are applying for one of these uses, please contact the Planning Department for the required additional form. As part of the Conditional Use Permit submittal process, the applicant must schedule a conference with the Zoning Administrator.

Application to Amend the Buncombe County Zoning Ordinance Text or Maps (PDF)

Property owners wishing to have their property designated as a different zoning district (an amendment to the Zoning Map) or wishing to amend the text of the Zoning Ordinance itself (i.e. the Permitted Use Table) would need to apply using this form. Such a request will generate a public hearing before the Planning Board, at which point the Planning Board would make a recommendation to the Buncombe County Commissioners. Once the Board of Commissioners has received the Planning Board's recommendation, a public hearing will be scheduled before the Commissioners so that they may take action on the application.

Fees for Map Amendments vary based on the number of parcels and parcel size; please see the zoning section of the fee schedule for more information. The fee for a Text Amendment application is $500.00. Applications must be submitted in full thirty (30) days prior to the Planning Board meeting.

Frequently Asked Questions About Zoning and the proposed county-wide expansion of zoning

In order to request a rezoning of your property, an application must be submitted to the Planning Department at least 30 days prior to the Planning Board meeting at which you wish to be heard (click here for planning board schedule). Once the Planning Board has reviewed your request and voted to make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners, the Board of Commissioners will hear your request at a regularly scheduled meeting, and vote to approve or deny the request.  Prior to each meeting, notices will be sent to adjoining property owners, a legal ad will be run in the paper, and a sign will be placed on the property. Changes to a zoning designation constitute an amendment to the zoning maps.

Property designated NS, CS, PS, R-1, R-2, or BDM does not allow the placement of additional manufactured homes for residential use; however, existing manufactured homes are allowed to remain and may be replaced with certain limitations.

In the Open Use District, Conditional Use Permits must be obtained from the Board of Adjustment for the following: six or more multi-family units on a single lot; adult entertainment establishments; amusement parks; asphalt plants; chip mills; concrete plants; hazardous waste facilities; incinerators; junkyards; landing strips; mining and extraction operations; motor sport facilities; outdoor commercial shooting ranges; slaughtering plants; and solid waste facilities.

The Buncombe County Comprehensive Land Use Plan update made recommendations for the placement of zoning districts throughout the County.  Maps were created based upon these recommendations, in coordination with the Planning Board, Commissioners, and County residents.

An existing use on the property that was in place prior to the adoption of zoning would be grandfathered unless removed from the property for more than 180 days.

Deed restrictions and covenants will not be made less restrictive by the proposed zoning ordinance. The County enforces zoning regulations, but cannot enforce deed restrictions or subdivision covenants.

County zoning cannot prevent annexation.

Home occupations are allowed in a person’s residence or in an accessory building in any zoning district, as long as they meet the ordinance's conditions. The regulations regarding home occupations can be found under the “definitions” section of the ordinance.

Yes, farming is exempt from any county zoning ordinance in North Carolina.