FAQs

Yes, however an appeal shall be limited to the applicant, officials, or departments of New Hanover County, or persons with a significant identifiable interest in the proposed plan, greater than the public at large, including but not limited to, adjacent property owners. Click here to obtain a copy of the Appeal application. Appeals must be sent to the Planning & Zoning Division within ten business days of the TRC decision and must state the alleged error made by the TRC.

No. A structure may not be built in a Floodway, unless it can be demonstrated by engineering that the development will have no adverse impact on flooding.  A “Floodway” is defined as the channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than one foot.

A “Residential Care Facility” is defined as a home with support and supervisory personnel that provides room and board, personal care and rehabilitation services in a family environment for not more than six resident handicapped persons.  A residential or family care facility shall not be located within 2000 feet radius of an existing residential care home.  A permit is required.​

Yes, the zoning map is a policy guide for directing types of uses to particular areas. Making such policies is not dependent on owner agreement.​

No.  You should check with your neighborhood home owner’s association for any restrictions on fences, but you will not need a permit from our office. The zoning ordinance does not regulate fences. If your lot is near the water and there is the potential for land disturbance contact Zoning for CAMA questions.

Check with your local utility providers if your proposed fence may be located in or near a utility easement.

Yes. You will need to apply for a commercial sign permit.  For more information about sign regulations, refer to Article IX, Sections 90-96, of the Zoning Ordinance.​

No. Contact New Hanover County Animal Control Services at (910) 341-4197

No. Contact the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department at (910) 798-4206 with noise complaints.

You can access the County’s flood maps on the County’s GIS mapping website at maps.nhcgov.com and click on the Flood Zone Viewer.

Article XI Section 110 of the Zoning Ordinance outlines the amendment process. All requests for changes to zoning should be consistent with the comprehensive plan and in the public interest.

The County Zoning map indicates the zoning of all properties in the County. You can interactively view the zoning of properties by using the NHC online mapping tools at maps.nhcgov.com.

​Contact: John Townsend, (County) (910) 798-7443Jim Sahlie (City) (910) 341-5826.

You may attend the public hearing and speak in opposition or send a notarized written statement prior to the hearing to the New Hanover County Planning & Zoning Division. Please check the calender for County Commissioners, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting dates, times and locations.

You may attend the public hearing and present evidence in opposition or send a notarized written statement presenting your sworn testimony prior to the hearing. Please check the calender for County Commissioners, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting dates, times and locations.

Yes.  A pool is considered an accessory structure and is treated the same as a garage for setback purposes.  All accessory structures under 600 sq ft can qualify for a reduced setback to 5’ from side and rear. The setbacks apply to the pool depression of an in-ground pool and not to the concrete slab surrounding the pool. The pool (including decks and steps) would need to have a 5’ separation from any other structure. If the pool is closer than 5’, it would not qualify for the reduced setbacks and would need to meet the same setbacks that would apply to the house’s zoning.

Home Occupation is defined as an occupation for gain or support customarily conducted on the premises by a person or family residing thereon provided:

(a) Only one (1) person other than members of the family residing on the premises shall be engaged in such occupation;
(b) The use of the dwelling unit for the home occupation shall be clearly incidental and subordinate to its use for residential purpose by its occupants, and not more than twenty-five (25) percent of the floor area of the dwelling unit shall be used in the conduct of the home occupation;
(c) There shall be no change in the outside appearance of the building or premises, or other visible evidence of the conduct of such home occupation other than one (1) sign, not exceeding two and one-fourth (2 1/4) sq. ft. in area, non-illuminated, and mounted flat against the wall of the principal building;
(d) No home occupation shall be conducted in any accessory building;
(e) No traffic shall be generated by such home occupation in greater volumes than would normally be expected in a residential neighborhood, and any need for parking generated by the conduct of such home occupation shall be met off the street and other than in any required yard. Vehicles used primarily as passenger vehicles including pickup trucks and step-type vans only shall be permitted in connection with the conduct of the customary home occupation;
(f) No equipment or process shall be used in such home occupation which creates noise, vibration, glare, fumes, or electrical interference detectable to the normal senses off the lot. In the case of the electrical interference, no equipment or process shall be used which creates visual or audible interference in any radio or television receivers off the premises, or causes fluctuations in line voltages off the premises; (9/8/81)
(g) No display of products shall be visible from the street and the selling of merchandise or the manufacture of merchandise for sale except baking, sewing, and/or handicrafts normally made in the home cannot be the primary function of the home occupation; and
(h) Instruction in music, dancing, or tutoring of academic subjects shall be limited to four (4) students at a time.

In order to obtain financing to buy, build, or improve property in the floodplain, Federal law requires that you obtain flood insurance. Damage caused by flooding is not covered by normal homeowner’s insurance.​

New Hanover County building regulations require additional construction standards for new structures or substantial improvements to existing structures in floodplains. Please contact the Zoning Division (910) 798-7118 for more information about your property or to request a printed copy of the flood line on your property.

What is a COD?
A COD is a Conservation Overlay District. This is a County designation that is meant to protect important environmental and cultural resources. The effective date of the ordinance (Section 59.4) is December 1, 1984.

What are these important resources?
The resources which have required setbacks are: Swamp Forest, Pocosin, Savannah, Natural Ponds, Freshwater Marsh, Brackish Marsh, Primary Nursery Areas, Barrier Island-Beach Complex, Maritime Shrub Thickets, Salt Marsh, Animal & Plant Natural Areas of Special Significance and Archeological/Historical Resources & Cemeteries.

How do I know if my parcel of land is associated with a COD?
The parcel is considered to be associated with a conservation resource if either the resource is contained partially or wholly on the parcel or if the resource is located next to a parcel such that the setback extends into the parcel.

What is the distance of the COD setback?
The COD setback varies from 25 feet to 100 feet depending on the resource being protected.

What can I do within the COD setback?
Conservation space shall not be cleared of vegetation and shall not be developed in any manner that would negatively impact the resource with the following exceptions:

  • Improvements that would protect or enhance the enjoyment of the resource including walkways, self-guided trails, protective fences, and docks.
  • Access to other parts of the parcel, designed to the greatest extent practical to minimize impact to the resource.
  • Decks may encroach up to six feet if they are uncovered and drip through and the ground below is left undisturbed or planted with ground cover.

How is the COD setback determined?
The setback is from the edge of the resource being protected. It is not a static line and can move if the resource expands or contracts. It will be marked for the property owner at the time construction is being permitted.

A variance is a relaxation of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance when the variance will not be contrary to the public interest and where, due to the peculiar conditions of the property, literal enforcement of the Ordinance would result in unnecessary and undue hardship.  A variance is authorized only for height, area, and size of structures, or size of yards and open spaces, or for establishment or expansions of nonconforming uses. Click here for more information about obtaining a variance.

CAMA is the Coastal Area Management Act, which was passed into law in 1974. It is meant to protect coastal resources in our State through an integrated system of land and water management.

When would I need a CAMA permit?
A CAMA major or minor permit is required when developing within an AEC.

What is an AEC?

  • An AEC is an Area of Environmental Concern. If you are building within one of the four AECs, you will need a CAMA permit.
  • Estuarine System – this includes Coastal Wetlands, Estuarine Waters, Public Trust Areas and Coastal Shoreline.
  • Ocean Hazard Areas – this includes Ocean Erodible Area, High Hazard Flood Area, Inlet Hazard Area and Unvegetated Beach.
  • Public Water Supplies – which are Small Surface Supply Watersheds or Public Water Supply Well Fields in the Wilmington area.
  • Natural and Cultural Resource Areas –this includes complex natural areas, unique geological formations, significant archeological and historic architectural resources.

What is considered development?

The definition of development (G.S. 113A-103(5)(a)) states: “Development means any activity in a duly designated Area of Environmental Concern involving, requiring, or consisting of the construction or enlargement of a structure; excavation; dredging, filling; dumping; removal of clay, silt, sand, gravel or minerals; bulk heading, driving of pilings; clearing or alteration of land as an adjunct of construction; alteration or removal of sand dunes; alteration of the shore, bank, or bottom of the Atlantic Ocean or any sound, bay, river, creek, stream, lake, or canal.”

Will I need a major or minor CAMA permit?

  • A major permit is required when a project:
  • Occupies 20 acres of AECs.
  • Has a structure or structures in excess of 60,000 square feet of ground area on a single parcel of land in an AEC or,
  • Requires licensing, approval, certification, or authorization from another N.C. agency or Federal agency or authority.

You will need to contact the Division of Coastal Management if you require a major permit, Wilmington office (910) 798-7215

Other development within an AEC may fall under a minor permit. The New Hanover County Zoning Division is the local permitting office for CAMA minor permits. More information about CAMA minor permits may be found on our CAMA Permitting page.

If you are moving into an existing building, you will need to apply for a change of use or occupancy certification permit with the Inspections Division.  You will need to know if the property is zoned correctly for the business you would like to open. If your building requires any new construction, you will need to apply for a building permit with the Inspections Division.​

​No, all easements must be kept clear of any and all obstructions such as trees, fences, structures, berms and ponds, in order to allow crews free access at all times.

​No, all easements must be kept clear of any and all obstructions such as trees, fences, structures, berms and ponds, in order to allow crews free access at all times.

Yes, unless it is a City or County Owned Project. New Hanover is not allowed to issue permits to entities who have powers of Eminent Domain (the right to condemn property), or to projects that use local, state or federal funds. These projects are permitted thru the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Energy, Mineral and Land Resources at (910) 796-7215

Residential Subdivision
Review Fee: $200 (Paid at time of application, includes initial and 2nd review)
Land Disturbance Fee: $150 per lot (Paid at the time of plat recordation)

All lots must be in the limits of disturbance and have erosion control measures.

Subsequent Reviews: $200 each (For each review after 2nd review)
Modifications: $200
Name Change: $200
Transfer of Ownership: $200

Commercial Development
Review Fee: $200 (Paid at time of application, includes initial and 2nd review)
Land Disturbance Fee: $400 per acre disturbed (Paid at the time of Certificate of Occupancy)
Subsequent Reviews: $200 each (For each review after 2nd review)
Modifications: $200
Name Change: $200
Transfer of Ownership: $200

Other
Review Fee: $200 (Paid at the time of application, includes initial land 2nd review).
Land Disturbance Fee: $400 per acre disturbed (Paid at time of application).
Subsequent Reviews: $200 each (For each review after 2nd review).
Modifications: $200
Name Change: $200
Transfer of Ownership: $200

$5000 a day fines may be issued and possibly criminal penalties.

  • When more than an acre is to be disturbed.
  • When a permit has previously been issued on the property or project & additional land disturbance activities are planned.
  • When a parcel or project is less than 1 acre but is part of a larger project (i.e. common plan of development).

From New Hanover County Engineering by contacting Beth Easley Wetherill at (910) 798-7139

For Fast Track Residential:

  • Appropriate documented approvals from CFPUA, City of Wilmington, and County Environmental Health must be secured before applying for a Residential Building Permit.
  • The North Carolina Lien Agent document must accompany the application.
  • homeowners who want to act as their own contractor for work on their primary residence, and then live in that residence for at least 12 months, must submit a “Homeowner Exemption Affidavit” which is available among the Building Safety forms on the webpage that is accessed via the Permit Process & Forms tab. Similarly, homeowners who also want to act as their own contractor for electrical or mechanical or plumbing work, must also submit a “Owner’s Trade Permit Affidavit”; this form is also available among the Building Safety forms on the webpage that is accessed via the Permit Process & Forms tab.
  • Every unlicensed or licensed contractor must submit a “Worker’s Compensation Coverage Affidavit” which is also known as “Affidavit of Worker’s Compensation Coverage” as inferred from the North Carolina General Statute 87-14 (G.S. § 87-14). The form is also available among the Building Safety forms on the webpage that is accessed via the Permit Process & Forms tab. The form must be completed prior to applying for the permit.
  • A complete set of building drawings including: typical wall section, footing details, foundation plan, framing details including floor, walls, and roof; elevation of building, floor plan, stair details, insulation/energy form, chimney/fireplace details and ventilation of attic/crawl spaces; a plot and/or site plan showing all setbacks from property lines.
  • Homes that will be located on waterfront property such as the coastline, Cape Fear River, Intra-Coastal Waterway or any of the area creeks, may require a CAMA permit prior to issuance of a building permit.

For Residential:

  • A complete set of building drawings including: typical wall section, footing details, foundation plan, framing details including floor, walls, and roof; elevation of building, floor plan, stair details, insulation/energy form, chimney/fireplace details and ventilation of attic/crawl spaces; a plot and/or site plan showing all setbacks from property lines.
  • Approval of the New Hanover County Health Department for a private well and/or septic tank.
  • Approval from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority for community water and/or sewer.
  • Homes that will be located on waterfront property such as the coastline, Cape Fear River, Intra-Coastal Waterway or any of the area creeks, may require a CAMA permit prior to issuance of a building permit.
  • Proof of payment of impact fees to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.

For Commercial:

  • Everything that is required for residential plus the following:
    • “4” complete sets of sealed plans and one additional site plan.
    • Riser Diagram / Load calculations for Electrical.
    • Certificate for Metal Building (indicating wind exposure).
    • Note: You may apply for the permit with sealed foundation drawings & fast track application if you do not have the certificate at time of application.
    • Heat Gain / Heat Loss calculations for Mechanical.
    • Sprinkler Drawings. (if applicable)

Site and landscaping plans are reviewed by the applicable Zoning authority. For projects in the unincorporated County, two copies of site and landscaping plans are required. Zoning information is available as follows:

  • New Hanover County (910) 798-7118
  • Wilmington (910) 254-0900
  • Carolina Beach (910) 458-2991
  • Wrightsville Beach (910) 256-7937

You will be required to see the building plans examiner who will discuss your project with you to assure your application is in order.
For a more detailed list of required information needed on commercial plans, request a copy of “Information needed on Commercial Plans.”

Note: If this is the first time building in New Hanover County, you will also need the following:

  • A copy of your general contractors license for projects exceeding $29,999.
  • Proof of workman’s compensation insurance or signed affidavit.

After submitting your application to the Development Services Coordinator you will be given a card with your Application number on it. Please keep this number and refer to it whenever inquiring as to the status of your application or requesting permits and inspections.

For Fast Track Residential Projects, 4 to 7 business days.

For Regular Residential Projects, 7 to 10 business days. Outside Agencies my delay this process.

For Commercial Projects, approximately 7 to 10 business days for small projects and 2 weeks or more for large projects, once all the required information is submitted. Outside Agencies my delay this process.

For Fast Track Residential Projects, 4 to 7 business days.

For Regular Residential Projects, 7 to 10 business days. Outside Agencies my delay this process.

For Commercial Projects, approximately 7 to 10 business days for small projects and 2 weeks or more for large projects, once all the required information is submitted.

After your plans are reviewed, you will be contacted and informed if they are disapproved and why by the Development Services Center.

 

  • Use our Website at https://nhan.govnow.com/wps/portal.
  • Email us at eplans@nhcgov.com. Please write “Inspection Request” in the subject line and include permit number, address, contractor, type of inspection and contact information in the email.
  • Fax the request using the Inspection Request Fax form. You can fax the information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to (910) 798-7811.
  • Call the NHC Development Services Center at (910) 798-7308 between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. You will be assisted by one of our schedulers in the order they receive your call. Please have your permit number ready. They can take a credit or debit card payment over the phone (Master Card, Visa, Discover or American Express).
  • You may also come to the Development Services Center in person and they will gladly take your payment and your inspection request.

All inspection requests received before 3:30 p.m. will be scheduled for the next business day. Requests received after 3:30 p.m. will be scheduled for the day after the next business day. (Please see Note below.)

Note: Although inspections are scheduled as described above, they are subject to workload. Inspectors prioritize re-inspections when arriving in an area that has re-inspections along with first time inspections.

A request to cancel an inspection can be made by phone (910) 798-7308, by email to DSC@nhcgov.com or in person with the Development Services Center staff in accordance with the Inspections Cancellation Policy.

Keep Your Construction Site Clean

Litter
Management of construction debris, especially employee trash, is necessary to maintain a litter free community. In addition to a container for primary construction debris, it is recommended that a 55 gallon drum or similar container be placed for each 5000 square feet of site, primarily for the collection of workers’ incidental trash (wrapping, plastic, drink containers, etc.) These containers should be emptied when filled, or at least weekly.

Property owners and prime contractors in charge of construction sites are jointly and severally required to take appropriate measures to insure the control of litter generated by construction and related activities. New Hanover County Code 11-78.

Transportation of Litter
Materials being transported in an open-bed truck must be secured in a manner which will keep litter from being blown or dropped onto the roadway. Recommended covers include commercial tarps made of plastic or cloth, tie downs of ropes or bungee cords, old fish netting, or chicken wire nailed to 2 x 4’s and ends tied down. It shall be unlawful for any person to transport any litter or other cargo upon the public thoroughfares in New Hanover County if the same is of a character of substance which is likely to be deposited from one vehicle onto the public rights-of way, unless the same is secured by containers, tarpaulin or other device in such a fashion as to effectively prevent such deposit on the public rights-of way. New Hanover County Code 11-80(a).

Burning of Materials
All open burning is prohibited except as described below:

  • Open burning of natural materials such as leaves, tree branches or yard trimmings, excluding logs and stumps, is permissible without a permit if:Material originates and is burned on the premises of private residences between the hours of 8:00am and 6:00pm.
  • There is no public pick-up service.
  • It does not create a nuisance.
  • No burning ban has been declared by the Division of Forest Resources.
  • For purposes of human warmth and comfort.

Open burning for land clearing or right-of way maintenance is permitted if:

  • Prevailing winds at the time of burning are away from any built-up area, including public roads within 250 feet.
  • The location is a least 1000 feet from any dwelling, commercial or institutional establishment or other occupied structure not located on the property on which the burning is done.

It is Illegal To Burn At Any Time:

  • Heavy oils, asphaltic materials such as shingles and other roofing material, items containing natural or synthetic rubber, or any materials other than plant growth.
  • All burning must be protected with ways to put out the fire and maintain air quality. Those conducting open burning are responsible for any resulting consequences, damages or injuries.
  • Local regulations prevail.

A person shall not cause, allow or permit open burning of combustible material except as allowed by Rule .1904. Control and Prohibition of Open Burning, North Carolina Administrative Code .1903.

Disposal of Waste Materials

  • Any property owner and/or contractor producing, handling or creating trash and garbage on a construction or demolition site is responsible for disposing of it at a permitted sanitary landfill, incinerator, or demolition landfill site.
  • A solid waste generator shall be responsible for the satisfactory storage, collection and disposal of solid waste.
  • The solid waste generator shall ensure that his waste is disposed of at a site or facility which is permitted to receive the waste.
  • Generator of Solid Waste, North Carolina Administrative Code .0106.

For further information, call New Hanover County Department of Environmental Management at 910-798-4400.

230 Government Center Drive, Suite 110 • Wilmington, NC 28403
Planning & Land Use: Phone 910-798-7165 • Fax 910-798-7053
Building Safety: Phone 910-798-7308 • Fax 910-798-7811
Engineering: Phone 910-798-7139 • Fax 910-798-7051