Conservation Subdivision Standards
Open space shall:
Comprise a minimum of 25 percent of the project area.
Be composed of (in order of which lands should be designated as open space first): primary
conservation area, secondary conservation area, and any remaining lands necessary.
Be designated so that a minimum of 50 percent of the proposed open space is contiguous and, where
possible, adjoins open space or other protected areas (including protected forests or wildlife areas)
outside the project area.
Be designated so that, where possible, a majority of the lots directly abut open space to provide
residents with direct views and access.
Be accessible by safe and convenient pedestrian access from all adjoining lots (except in the case of
farmland or other resources areas vulnerable to trampling damage or human disturbance).
Be used as follows:
Conservation of natural resources, archeological resources or historical resources;
Agriculture, horticulture, or silviculture, provided all applicable best management practices
are used to minimize environmental impacts;
Active recreation provided impervious surfaces are limited to a maximum of 12 percent of
the total open space area;
Nonstructural stormwater management practices;
Easements for drainage, access, and underground utility lines; and
Water, septic, and sewer systems.
Not be used as follows:
For motor vehicles (except for maintenance purposes as provided for in the Open Space
Management Plan); and
Roads, parking lots and impervious surfaces (except when accessory to active recreational
Open Space Ownership. The applicant must identify current and future owner(s) of open space responsible
for maintaining the area/facilities. The responsibility for maintaining the open space and its facilities shall be
borne by the owner. If a homeowners association is the owner:
Membership in the association shall be mandatory and automatic for all homeowners in the
subdivision and their successors; and
The association shall have lien authority to ensure the collection of dues from all members.
Open Space Management. The applicant shall submit Open Space Management Plan which includes:
A statement allocating maintenance responsibilities and establishing guidelines for the upkeep of
open space and its facilities;
Cost estimates for maintenance, operation and insurance needs for the open space;
A means by which funds will be obtained for all management expenses;
A provision allowing the Subdivision Administrator to approve plan change; and
Criteria for plan enforcement.
Legal Instrument for Permanent Protection. Open space shall be protected in perpetuity by a binding legal
document recorded with the deed. The document shall be one of the following:
Permanent conservation easement in favor of either:
A land trust or similar conservation-oriented non-profit organization with legal authority to
accept such easements. The organization shall be bona fide and in perpetual existence and
the conveyance instruments shall contain an appropriate provision for retransfer in the event
the organization becomes unable to carry out its functions; or
A governmental entity with an interest in pursuing goals consistent with the intentions of
Permanent restrictive covenant for conservation purposes.
Equivalent legal tool providing permanent protection, subject to approval by the County Attorney.
The instrument shall include all restrictions contained in §42-88 (Conservation Subdivision Standards), and
any further restrictions the applicant chooses to place on the use of the open space.
Open Space Density Bonus. Base density is determined by the zoning district in which the subdivision is
located. Conservation subdivisions proposing more than the minimum required open space may be eligible for
increased densities. Table 3.1outlines the criteria for density bonuses. Lands under conservation easement
shall not be counted when determining density bonuses. Permitted housing densities shall not exceed the
maximum allowances of any applicable water supply watershed requirements.
TABLE 3.1. OPEN SPACE DENSITY BONUSES
Percent Open Space (%)
Percent Housing Density Increase (%)
Agricultural Preservation Density Bonus. Base density is determined by the zoning district in which the
subdivision is located. Conservation subdivisions proposed for sustaining existing on-site bona fide
agricultural operations are entitled to a five (5) percent increase in permitted density. Residential lots in these
subdivisions should be located in areas less suitable for agricultural production with prime farmland being
preserved as open space. Lots should be located where agricultural operations do not interfere with the safety
and well being of future residents. The reviewing agency may require vegetative buffering and/or additional
setbacks between agricultural operations and lots to mitigate potential impacts of noise, vibration, light, and/or
odor. This five (5) percent bonus may be used in conjunction and in addition to any applicable open space
density bonus. Permitted housing densities shall not exceed the maximum allowances of any applicable water
supply watershed requirements.
Structure Placement. Structures should be placed as closely to internal roads as permitted. The reviewing
agency may reduce the front yard setback to a minimum of five (5) feet; taking into consideration sound
engineering, public safety concerns and community character when applying the standards. Structures may
be: (1) located in the side yard setback required by the zoning district regulations; and (2) placed as closely
together as permitted by the North Carolina State Building Code.
Exemption. Conservation subdivision standards can be applied to any subdivision type, but are not required
by this Chapter.