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Zoning Compliance Inspections  

To request a zoning compliance inspection call 250-4858. Zoning inspections should be requested a minimum of 48 business hours in advance of requesting a Certificate of Occupancy from Buncombe County Permits and Inspections. We recommend that you call for your zoning compliance inspection following a successful framing inspection from Buncombe County Permits and Inspections. We require that all decks, porches, steps, and roof overhangs be completed before the zoning compliance inspection. If you have questions regarding your zoning compliance inspection consult the frequently asked questions below or call 250-4858.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is examined during a zoning inspection?

A zoning inspection generally checks that the property is being used in the manner described in the Certificate of Zoning Compliance and that the structure meets the required setbacks from property lines and right-of-ways as well as height limitations.  If the use is not single family residential, additional items such as parking provided, required buffering, or conditions of approval may also be checked during the inspection.

  1. When can I request my zoning inspection?

A zoning inspection can be requested after the framing of the structure is complete and any decks, porches, stairs, or other attachments to the structure have been added.  If you are unsure of the conformity of  the placement of your structure prior to completion of framing, please contact the Planning Department, and someone will be happy to help clarify any questions you might have.

  1. How are the setbacks measured?

Setbacks are measured from the structure to the property line or road right-of-way.  Property lines are determined either by markers in place on site or with the aid of Buncombe County’s aerial photography.  The orientation of the setbacks is determined by the structure itself (i.e. the wall surface containing the main entrance will be used to determine the front setback).  Setbacks are measured from the furthest extending portion of the structure (this includes all attachments such as patio walls, decks, and roof overhangs.  Corner lots and lots which front on multiple roads must maintain the required setback from each road right-of-way regardless of structure placement.

  1. What happens if I fail to meet the setbacks or don’t call for my inspection?

Failure to meet the setbacks or failure to call for an inspection will prevent you from obtaining final approvals from Buncombe County Permits and Inspections (this will be required before you can have permanent electrical power run to your structure per building code).  Additionally, failure to comply with the Zoning Inspection process will cause your project to be non-compliant and can result in fines or additional legal repercussions.  If at anytime during the course of your project you find that you will not meet the setbacks or are unsure about how setbacks are determined, cease work and call the Planning and Development Department immediately to determine the appropriate course of action.

  1. My subdivision or homeowners’ association already has their own setbacks.  Am I required to meet the Buncombe County setbacks?

Yes, you are required to meet whichever setback is more stringent.  Buncombe County does not enforce the rules of individual subdivisions or homeowners’ associations, nor do we enforce any restrictions set forth by deed restrictions or covenants.  All projects must adhere to the Buncombe County Zoning Ordinance.

  1. I have already spoken with Environmental Health concerning my septic system and I will be unable to meet the zoning setbacks because of the location of my septic system.  Will I still be able to pass the Zoning Inspection?

No, you must meet setbacks and any other geometrical requirements placed on your structure by other governmental offices.  If you know that you will be unable to meet the setbacks before beginning your project, speak with the Planning Department Staff about ways in which you may achieve compliance prior to beginning construction.

  1. My neighbor has a structure that appears to be too close to my property according to the setbacks, what can I do about this?

If the structure was constructed before May 2007, then there may have not been setback requirements in place depending on which zoning district it was built in.  Also, different areas of Buncombe County have different zoning setback requirements.  You can check with staff about specific cases.  If you believe the structure to be over the property line (and it was built prior to the institution of zoning setbacks), then the matter is a civil case between you and your neighbor; in that case it is best to consult a surveyor and/or an attorney.  Non-structural property line encroachment (such as the installation of driveways) is not handled by our department and is considered to be a civil case.

  1. Can I get a variance from the zoning requirements for my property?

Variances are granted only in rare cases where the property owner is able to justify an undue burden associated with their project that is not a result of their own actions.  The property owner must further justify that the zoning requirements prohibit them from realizing a reasonable economic return from their property.  Requests for variances are heard before the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment.  There is an application fee associated with applying for a variance. All adjacent property owners will be notified and can attend the public hearing for a variance request.