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Watershed Review Board

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PURPOSE: The Watershed Review Board is empowered to make decisions primarily on two matters: 

  • Appeals of decisions of land use ordinances by administrative officials, and
  • Variances.

The Review Board also makes recommendations to the County Commissioners on amendments to the Watershed Protection Ordinance. An applicant can appeal any order, requirement, decision, or determination made by an administrative official regarding the Watershed Protection Ordinance. Variances are requests to vary or modify the regulations or provisions of an ordinance due to practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships in the way of carrying out the ordinance. There are specific requirements listed in the Watershed Protection Ordinance that must be met for the Board to approve a variance. The burden of proof in appeals, variance request, and text amendments is on the applicant.

The Watershed Review Board can act in different capacities, either advisory or quasi-judicial, depending on the request submitted fo the Board. The Review Board acts in a quasi-judicial capacity when appeals of administrative officials or variance request are submitted, which requires specific standards to be applied to the decision making process. The process is similar to a court proceeding, due to the nature of the request. Quasi-judicial decisions do not involve setting new policy, but the application of previously adopted policies. Board members are not allowed by law to discuss any parts of a pending case outside of the public hearing, which is termed ex parte communication. At the public hearing only substantial, competent, material evidence is to be presented at the hearing. Additionally, anyone wishing to present evidence must do so under oath and other parties can cross examine anyone presenting information.

The Watershed Review Board acts in an advisory capacity when text amendments are submitted for consideration. The Review Board members make a recommendation on requests for text amendments and the Board of Commissioners has the final decision on the request.

MEMBERS: The Environmental Review Board serves as the Watershed Review Board
Voting Requirements: A vote of 4/5th's of the Watershed Review Board is required to reverse an administrative official's decision or to approve a variance. In all other matters, the vote of a majority of the members present is required to approve other issues before the Review Board. Members of the Watershed Review Board must attend the public hearing on any matter before them, to vote on that matter. Note: the Watershed Review Board only makes a recommendation on amendments to the ordinance; the Board of Commissioners votes to approve the amendment.
How to apply: The applicant must complete an application and submit the required fee within 30 days of the date of an notice of violation for enforcement actions or letter of decision for an ordinance interpretation.

If the request is denied: If the Watershed Review Board denies an appeal or variance request, the applicant has 30 days from the date the Board's decision is filed with the appropriate office to petition the Superior Court for review.

Applicable North Carolina General Statute: NCGS 143-21

Watershed Review Board Casesclick here 

10/70 Rule Background Information, click here

Stream Buffers Background Information, click here

Watershed Protection Ordinance, click here

Watershed Ordinance Variance Request Application

Appeal of Watershed Administrator Application, click here

Text Amendment Application

Fee Schedule, click here

For More Information:

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