Water Supply Watershed Protection Overlay District (WSWP)
The purpose of the Water Supply Watershed Protection Overlay District (WSWP) is to define the area of water supply
watersheds within the County. The intent of the overlay district is to manage the uses of land and structures
encompassed by water supply watersheds within the County in order to maintain the high quality of surface water in
these watersheds; this being accomplished by enforcing standards that limit the impact from existing or potential
sources of contamination through the regulation of average lot size and development intensity.
Scope. Land use within the WSWP overlay district must comply with all the requirements of both the
underlying general use district and the applicable Water Supply Watershed overlay district classification. If a
use or class of use is not specifically indicated as being permitted in a watershed area, such use or class of use
Establishment. This incorporates by reference the Official Water Supply Watershed Map for Henderson
County, hereinafter Official Water Supply Watershed Map, and subsequent amendments thereto, showing
all water supply watershed areas designated by the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission,
hereinafter NCEMC. The Official Water Supply Watershed Map shall be maintained by the Planning Director
and kept in the Planning Department. The water supply watershed map shall also be shown on and become
part of the Official Zoning Map for the County. The rules of interpretation for the boundaries of the map (see
§42-239.3 (Interpretation of Boundaries of the Water Supply Watershed Map)) apply. In addition, where any
WSWP overlay district boundaries lie at a scaled distance of more than 25 feet from any parallel lot line, the
location of these map boundaries shall be determined by using the scale of the map.
Application of Regulations.
General Application. No structure or land shall hereafter be used and no development shall take
place in the WSWP overlay district except in conformity with the regulations herein specified for the
watershed sub-district in which it is located. All development must minimize built-upon surface area;
direct stormwater away from surface waters; and incorporate best management practices to minimize
water quality impacts. No area required for the purpose of complying with the provisions of this
Article shall be included in the area required for another building.
Existing Development. Existing development shall be subject to the regulations contained in
§42-295 (Nonconforming Lots). Expansions to structures classified as existing
development must meet the requirements of this subsection; however, the built-upon area
of the existing development is not required to be included in density calculations.
Lots Created as Part of Any Ordinance. Any lot or parcel created as part of any subdivision
that is exempt from the requirements of this Chapter shall be subject to the land use
requirements (including impervious surface requirements) of this subsection, except that
such lot or parcel must meet the minimum stream buffer requirements of §42-251 (Perennial
and Intermittent Surface Water Buffers) to the maximum extent practicable.
Cemetery Lots. The division of a tract into plots or lots used as a cemetery.
Sub-Districts and Sub-District Regulations.
General. The regulations of this subsection shall apply uniformly to each class or kind of structure or
land located within any of the enumerated sub-district classifications. Within the sub-districts as
established below, the requirements set forth in this subsection shall be complied with in addition to
any other applicable general or special requirements of this Chapter.
Impact on Water Quality and Public Health. No activity, situation, structure or land use shall be
allowed within a WSWP overlay sub-district that poses a threat to water quality and/or the public
health, safety and welfare. Such conditions may arise from inadequate on-site sewage systems which
utilize ground absorption; inadequate sedimentation and erosion control measures; the improper
storage or disposal of junk, trash or other refuse within a buffer area; the improper management of
stormwater runoff; or any other situation found to pose a threat to water quality. The Water Quality
Administrator shall monitor land use activities within the watershed areas to identify situations that
may pose a threat to water quality. Where such activities are found, the Water Quality Administrator
shall take any appropriate action or proceeding to restrain, correct or abate the condition and/or
Water Supply Watershed Protection Sub-Districts and District Purposes. Sub-districts include:
WP-WS-I North Fork of Mills River and Bradley Creek Watershed Overlay Sub-District.
The intent of the sub-district is to provide maximum protection for water supplies within
essentially natural and undeveloped watersheds in public ownership by allowing only low-
intensity uses. Impacts from nonpoint source pollution shall be minimized.
WP-WS-II-CA Mills River Critical Area Watershed Overlay Sub-District. The intent of the
sub-district is to maintain a predominately undeveloped land use intensity pattern allowing
only very low-density developments.
WP-WS-II-BW Colt Creek and Mills River Balance of the Watershed Overlay Sub-
Districts. The purpose of the sub-district is to maintain predominately undeveloped land use
intensity. Projects in this sub-district must, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize
built-upon surface area; direct stormwater away from surface waters; and incorporate best
management practices to minimize water quality impacts.
WP-WS-III-CA Lower Mills River Critical Area Watershed Overlay Sub-District. The
purpose of the sub-district is to maintain a predominantly undeveloped land use intensity
WP-WS-III-BW Lower Mills River Balance of Watershed Overlay Sub-District. The intent
of the sub-district is to maintain predominantly underdeveloped land use intensity. Projects
in this sub-district must, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize built-upon surface
area; direct stormwater away from surface waters; and incorporate best management
practices to minimize water quality impacts.
WP-WS-IV-CA Upper French Broad River Critical Area Watershed Overlay Sub-District.
Only new development activities that are required by this Chapter to submit a soil erosion
and sedimentation control plan because one or more acres of land have been disturbed are
required to meet the provisions of this Chapter related to water supply watershed when
located in a WS-IV watershed. New development activities within this sub-district that do
not require a soil erosion and sedimentation control plan are not required to meet the water
supply watershed provisions of this sub-district.
WP-WS-IV-PA Upper French Broad River Protected Area Watershed Overlay Sub-District.
The intent of the WP-WS-IV-PA Upper French Broad River watershed overlay sub-district
is to provide protection for water quality while accommodating moderate to high land use
intensity. Development projects undertaken within this sub-district may qualify for an
exemption from the density and built-upon limits as set out in this section if the project
meets the criteria outlined in §42-61 (Water Supply Watershed Protection Overlay District
(WSWP) D (Sub-Districts and Sub-District Regulations) (6) Sedimentation and Erosion
Control Exemption. For projects implementing a natural drainage and filtering system
within the low-density option the built-upon limitations indicated herein below shall apply.
If stormwater runoff is filtered naturally and is not passed by gutters, drains, pipes, paved
swales or other similar conduits, qualification for a natural drainage and filtering system
bonus shall not impose a more stringent requirement than the provisions of this Chapter
regulating the subdivision of land, or the North Carolina erosion and sedimentation control
Water Supply Watershed Protection Sub-District Regulations on Density, Built-Upon Area,
Setbacks, and Stormwater.
Low Density Option.
Engineered Stormwater Controls. Not required.
Average Lot Size. Average lot size shall apply to single-family development and
shall be calculated excluding road right-of-way as per Table 2.14.
Maximum Percent Built-Upon Limits. Maximum percent built-upon limits shall
apply to multifamily residential and nonresidential development as per Table 2.14.
For the purpose of calculating built-upon area, total project area shall include total
acreage in the tract on which the project is to be developed.
Perennial and Intermittent Surface Water Buffers. 30 feet (See §42-251 (Perennial
and Intermittent Surface Water Buffers).
High-Density Option. Where new development exceeds average lot size requirements or
percent built-upon area under the low-density option, the development shall be considered
Engineered Stormwater Controls. High-density projects are required to control
runoff from the first inch of rainfall over a 24-hour period. Stormwater controls
shall adhere to the requirements of §42-240 (Stormwater Management
Regulations) and §42-241 (Structural and Nonstructural Stormwater BMPs
Maximum Percent Built-Upon Limits. New high-density development shall not
exceed the prescribed percent built-upon area as per Table 2.14.
Perennial and Intermittent Surface Water Buffers. The requirements of §42-251
(Perennial and Intermittent Surface Water Buffers) shall apply and shall be
expanded to a minimum of 100 feet landward of all perennial surface waters.
Total Suspended Solids Removal Requirement. Stormwater controls shall be
designed to remove 85% of TSS.
Table 2.14 provides sub-district average lot size density and built-upon area limitations.
Table 2.14. Water Supply Watershed Protection Sub-District Regulations on Density and Built-Upon Area
Natural Drainage &
(Drainage & Filtering Bonus)
Water Supply Watershed Protection Sub-District Permitted Uses. Table 2.15 outlines
specifically prohibited uses within each sub-district. Table 2.16 provides specifically permitted
uses within each sub-district, with additional standards required as a result of water supply
watershed designation. Any proposed permitted use herein must also be permitted by the
underlying general use district(s) (See §42-62 (Table of Permitted and Special Uses).
Table 2.15. Water Supply Watershed Protection Sub-District Prohibited Uses
WP WS SUB-DISTRICT
PR = Prohibited
Landfills, Leachate Discharging
Sites for land application of new residuals or petroleum contaminated
*Note: The only uses permissible in the WP-WS-I district are noted in Table 2.16, Water Supply Watershed Protection Sub-District
Permitted Uses with additional standards.
Table 2.16. Water Supply Watershed Protection Sub-District Permitted Uses with Additional Standards for Permitted Uses
WP WS SUB-DISTRICT
P = Permitted, PAS = Permitted with Additional Standards
Agriculture, Subject to provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985
and Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990 and all
rules and regulations of the Soil and Water Conservation
Agriculture, Subject to provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985
and the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990.
Power Transmission Lines
Restricted Road Access
Silviculture, Subject to the provisions of the Forest Practices
Guidelines Related to Water Quality.
Water Withdrawal, Treatment and Distribution Facilities
Sedimentation and Erosion Control Exemption.
Qualifying Criteria. Development projects undertaken within a WP-WS-IV-PA
Upper French Broad River watershed overlay sub-district may qualify for an
exemption from the density and built-upon limits as set out in this section if the
project meets all of the following criteria:
Requirement for Sedimentation and Erosion Control Plan. The
development project does not require a sedimentation and erosion control
plan and permit under the rules and regulations promulgated by the North
Carolina Sedimentation Control Commission.
Nonresidential. The development is nonresidential.
Initial Development Activity. The development is the initial development
activity on the project site or tract and is not an expansion of any
improvements already existing on the project site or tract having a built-
upon area as defined in this subsection.
Evaluation of Criteria. In evaluating whether the development project meets
the criteria listed above for the sedimentation and erosion control exemption,
the following rules shall apply:
Exemption Limitations. The exemption shall not be available to
nonresidential subdivisions, nonresidential cluster development(s) or
nonresidential development projects being developed in phases.
Residential Developments. The exemption shall not be available for
single-family or any other residential development projects, including
general home occupations.
Discontinuance of Construction. If construction of the development
project is discontinued for a period of time in excess of 180
consecutive calendar days, any further construction shall be
considered an expansion to improvements already existing on the
project site or tract. Any such further construction shall meet the
requirements of this subsection. However, only the built-upon area of
said further construction and the remainder of the project site or tract
shall be used in the density calculations.
Damage and Destruction. Any exempted development project may be
repaired/reconstructed if damaged or destroyed. Any such
reconstruction or repair shall not be considered an expansion of an
improvement already existing, provided that the repair/reconstruction
restores the building or built-upon area to substantially the same
condition and built-upon area as before any such damage or
destruction. To the extent that any such repair/reconstruction enlarges
the impervious surface associated with the building or built-upon
area being repaired/reconstructed, the repair/reconstruction shall be
considered an expansion to an exempted development project and
shall be required to meet the density and built-upon limits contained
in this subsection in accordance with subsection c.
exempted under the terms listed above shall not be exempted from the terms of
this section. All such expansions shall be required to meet the requirements of
this section. However, only the built-upon area of the expansion and the
undeveloped area of the project site or tract shall be used in the density
Mixed-Use Development. In cases where both residential and nonresidential uses are proposed for one (1) lot
in single ownership, such mixed-use developments may be permitted without further subdivision of the lot.
However, each use must adhere to its respective density/built-upon area requirements. For purposes of this
subsection, home occupations shall, be considered as residential uses.
Existing Development. Existing development may be continued and maintained subject to the
provisions provided herein. Expansions to structures classified as existing development must meet
the requirements of this section; however, only the built-upon area of the expansion and the
undeveloped area of the lot are used in the built-upon calculations.
Existing Vacant Lots. Existing vacant lots are lots for which plats or deeds have been recorded as of
May 23, 1994 in the office of the Register of Deeds of Henderson County. An existing lot may be
used for any of the uses allowed in the watershed area in which it is located provided that where the
lot size is less than the minimum specified in this subsection; the Water Quality Administrator is
authorized to issue a permit.
Use of Land. Uses of land existing at the time of the initial adoption of watershed regulations for a
particular area and where such use of the land is not permitted to be established hereafter in the
watershed area in which it is located may be continued in accordance with this Chapter (see Article
VIII Subpart B (Water Supply Watershed Protection)).
Reconstruction of Buildings or Built-upon Areas. Any existing building or built-upon area not in
conformance with the restrictions of this subsection that has been damaged or removed may be
repaired and/or reconstructed, provided that the following are complied with:
Repair or reconstruction is initiated within 12 months and completed within two (2) years of
The total amount of space devoted to built-upon area may not be increased unless
stormwater control that equals or exceeds the previous development is provided.