Chapel Hill Jordan Lake Rules

Town of Chapel Hill

405 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-5705
Telephone (919) 969-7246

Wendy Smith, Environmental Education Coordinator

SUBJECT: Jordan Lake Rules to take effect in Chapel Hill December 6th
Sue Burke 969-7266 or Chris Jensen 969-7233

Chapel Hill property owners with land adjacent to streams may now have new restrictions for maintenance or development in addition to those under Chapel Hill’s Resource Conservation District, Watershed Water Supply District, and National Flood Insurance Program. In the interest of cleaning up Jordan Lake, an increasingly polluted drinking water supply reservoir, recreation area and wildlife habitat, the State requires all local governments within the Jordan Lake Watershed to adopt ordinances, policies and procedures based on a State model to protect and preserve existing stream buffers.

Chapel Hill’s Jordan Watershed Riparian Buffer Protection Ordinance is scheduled to become effective immediately upon adoption on Monday, December 6th as Section 5.18 in Chapel Hill’s Land Use Management Ordinance.  As part of an overall nutrient reduction strategy for the lake, these new stream buffer requirements will affect maintenance and development within the 50-foot buffer along streams subject to the Jordan Lake Rules.  The Jordan Lake buffer rules apply only to streams that are shown on either the USDA County Soil Survey Maps or the US Geological Survey 7.5 minute quadrangle topographic maps. Existing and ongoing uses and activities are unaffected. However, any changes in use of the land or development of the property will trigger the buffer rules. An information session for developers and consultants on Wednesdays, December 8th and December 15th will be held at the Chapel Hill Public Library from 9-10am to introduce the new ordinance and discuss the requirements.  RSVPs should be made to Sue Burke at

Buffers adjacent to streams provide multiple environmental protection and resource management benefits. Forested buffers enhance and protect the natural ecology of stream systems, as well as water quality through bank stabilization, shading, and nutrient removal. They also help to minimize flood damage in flood prone areas. Well-vegetated streamside riparian areas help to remove nitrogen and prevent sediment and sediment-bound pollutants such as phosphorous from reaching the streams.

Background information and ordinance

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