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Riparian Buffer Requirements

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    bufferThose properties that are inside the Jordan Lake watershed and are not currently being proposed for subdivision are subject to the Jordan Lake Buffer rules as defined in Section 304 (J) of the Chatham County Watershed Protection Ordinance

        • Intermittent Streams – the riparian buffer is 50-ft from the top of bank
        • Perennial Streams, Lakes, Ponds (within natural drainage features), and Reservoirs – the riparian buffer is 50-ft from the top of bank
        • There are no buffers on wetlands

      Those properties that are located outside the Jordan Lake watershed and that were created prior to December 2, 2008 are not currently proposed for subdivision are subject to the riparian buffers as defined in the 1994 Chatham County Watershed Protection Ordinance.

        • A 50-ft riparian buffer is placed on all streams identified on the USGS map as “blue lines.”  The USGS map can be found on the Chatham County GIS Portal.
        • A 100-ft riparian buffer is placed on all “rivers” that are identified on the USGS map and all perennial and intermittent streams (mapped or unmapped) within 2,500-ft thereof. *

    * This riparian buffer applies to all properties within 2,500-ft of identified rivers no matter the watershed district or date of lot creation.

    Anyone who wishes to dispute streams as shown on the USGS or NRCS maps may request staff to "field" or "ground" truth the stream. Staff will use methodologies and criteria developed by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality to determine if the stream feature shown on the map is indeed subject to buffer requirements.

      Those properties that are outside the Jordan Lake watershed and were created after December 2, 2008 or any property that is currently proposed for subdivision are currently going through the subdivision process are subject to Chatham County buffers as defined in Section 304 (D) of the Chatham County Watershed Protection Ordinance.  The buffers below also apply to those properties within the Jordan Lake Watershed that are going through the subdivision process or have an onsite buffer confirmation completed by county staff.

        • Ephemeral Streams – the riparian buffer is 30-ft from the top of bank
        • Intermittent Streams – the riparian buffer is 50-ft from the top of bank
        • Perennial Streams – the riparian buffer is 100-ft from the top of bank
        • Wetlands – the riparian buffer is 50-ft from the delineated boundary
        • Ponds – the riparian buffer is 50-ft only if the pond is fed by or discharges into a stream that scores 19 points or higher within 50-ft of the pond

    Please contact the Chatham County Planning Department if you are planning to subdivide your property. 

    Ms. Kimberly Tyson , Subdivision Administrator

    kimberly.tyson@chathamnc.org or (919) 542-8283