There are A LOT of regulations around the shoreline and buffer zones on a waterfront Lake Norman home.
Don't be discouraged. Most homes already have amazing yards with everything you'd need.
What you do with in the land impacts the drinking water and ecosystem health not only of Lake Norman but all areas downstream.
Imagine you buy a peaceful wooded lakefront home and all your neighbors decide to bulldoze the trees along the water and pour concrete to park their RVs and cars.
How would that make the lake look? How would it impact your property value? Imagine the runoff into the water during storms, polluting the water around your dock.
Rules, though restrictive, are meant to protect and preserve the value of your waterfront Lake Norman home.
Each town may have exceptions and variances to some items discussed below. This article gives you the foundation when looking at waterfront Lake Norman homes. You may be able to build a pool or do a home addition that violates laws discussed here with local approvals...
It’s a VERY complicated process. For example, Cornelius has over 200 pages of guidelines that impact "grandfathered" smaller home lots for older neighborhoods.
You should hire a professional during inspections, to help navigate what’s possible for your dream waterfront Lake Norman home from a code enforcement perspective.
They created the foundation for all the water areas of North Carolina.
May restrict or modify the state laws depending on Lake Normans needs.
Can provide variances or restrictions based on each waterfront lots unique characteristics
Setbacks. Buffer Zones. Watersheds. Riparian Buffers.
Let’s just call it a Buffer…
The main overarching laws are found in the Catawba River Basin Riparian Buffer Protection Program (say that 3 times fast) created by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
A strip of vegetated land bordering the lake (your yard). The vegetation and root systems stabilize the bank, remove pollutants, and prevent soil from eroding into the water.
A waterfront Lake Norman property has a 50-foot total setback buffer inward from the shoreline. It is broken up into 2 Zones, which allow for different uses.
The first 30 feet from the shoreline inward is an undisturbed forested buffer.
The next 20 feet from Zone 1 inward is managed vegetation.
Want to remove waterfront trees completely? With authorization you can:
Other landscaping activities in the 50-foot buffer zone:
Allowed with Restrictions:
Let’s say you found the perfect waterfront Lake Norman home but needed to add an addition to the back to meet your needs, or install a pool that would violate the buffer zone. Are you out of luck? It depends.
You can apply for a major / minor variance with Variance Application (VAR-10-2013) to seek approval for activities within protected buffers. Variances and mitigations can allow you to do things you wouldn't normally be allowed to do. It's a way of offsetting a project’s environmental impacts to a buffer. It can take a few basic forms:
Just know you have options.
(note: If the violation was present within the buffer as of June 30, 2001, it is grandfathered in.)
If you find a waterfront Lake Norman home with a gentle slope into the water that is prone to being under water during the busy seasons when the lake is “Full Pond”, then the area and all the plants / trees in that zone are under Duke Energy's control. This will add another layer outside of the above local government regulations you will have to deal with.
I won’t go over all the details, but they're similar to those we discussed. Here are some examples:
Notice this waterfront home has some flooding when the lake is at "Full Pond". This means Duke Energy's vegetation rules apply to the yard area that is underwater.
Notice this lakefront home has a steeper yard and no flooding in any forested areas when the lake is at "Full Pond". This means Duke Energy's vegetation rules don't apply.
What's the worst that can happen by not following the rules? You can lose your waterfront Lake Norman homes dock...
Unauthorized major cutting of the vegetated area (no existing pier/dock)
Unauthorized major cutting of the vegetated area (existing pier/dock):
Unauthorized minor cutting of trees within the vegetated area:
When you're seeing waterfront homes for sale on Lake Norman, you'll notice a few different types of shoreline and how its "stabilized".
Based on what's there, you may want to change it by adding a beach, or building access stairs to the water level. Everything involving the shoreline and its stabilization must obtain written authorization from Duke Energy.
Shoreline stabilization is encouraged to control soil erosion in "high-energy" areas. You are encouraged to use bioengineering techniques and landscape plantings before using rip-rap. Seawalls should be the last option for shoreline stabilization.
This is basically plants and some landscaping rocks. If the waterfront homes lot is a gentle slope into the water and erosion isn't present, this will be your only approved option.
The types of plantings used in bioengineering and landscape-planting projects should be native to North Carolina.
Riprap is a human-placed rock or other material used to protect shoreline against water erosion. It lets the waves bounce off the rock instead of your soil.
A layer of rip-rap extending six feet lakeward from full pond must be placed along the entire area.
Seawalls are not allowed in areas with an eroded bank height of less than 3 feet.
This is used for waterfront Lake Norman homes that have no other option.
Work with a partner and broker who knows how to walk you through these issues.
We're experts on buying waterfront Lake Norman homes for sale.
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