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What can I do within the buffers?

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The riparian buffer must be undisturbed, regardless of property size or type of land use. However, there is a Table of Uses for specific activities found in Section 304 (J)(4) of the Chatham County Watershed Protection Ordinance: [this does not apply to impacts to the stream or water feature itself, (i.e. installing a culvert or placing fill in a jurisdictional water feature). Please consult with NC DWR or the US Army Corps of Engineers for such impacts, contact information provided below]

  • Exempt uses are allowed in the riparian buffer without approval from Chatham County or the NC Division of Water Resources (DWR).  Those include but are not limited to: pruning of vegetation and the removal of “danger” trees and invasive species.

  • Allowable uses may occur in the buffer after written authorization (No Practical Alternative Authorization) from Chatham County and/or DWR (some of these impacts may require mitigation and are identified as “allowable with mitigation” within the Table of Uses).  The process, procedure, and requirements for submitting and obtaining a “No Practical Alternative Authorization” are found in Section 304 (I) of the Chatham County Watershed Protection Ordinance.

  • Prohibited uses are not allowed in the buffer unless a variance is granted from the Chatham County Watershed Review Board. The process, procedure, and requirements for obtaining a Variance are found in Section 507 (B) of the Chatham County Watershed Protection Ordinance.

  • Activities not listed in the Table of Uses are prohibited.