Urban Transition Buffers

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On March 22, 2007, the Cary Town Council approved an ordinance amending its Land Development Ordinance to require Urban Transition Buffers (UTB’s) within the Town’s jurisdiction and extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ). Urban Transition Buffers provide a transition from waterbodies and environmentally sensitive areas associated with waterbodies to areas that are less fragile and appropriate for more intense uses and development.

To protect its finite natural resources, Cary has exceeded the requirements of the Neuse rules. Instead of requiring 50-foot buffers on all USGS and Soil Survey streams, Cary requires 100-foot UTB buffers on all USGS streams (perennial & intermittent) and 50-foot buffers on all streams mapped on the Wake County Soil Survey. In addition, the buffers are required across all of Cary including areas within the extra-territorial jurisdiction. This will include streams in the Neuse River and the Cape Fear River basins.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the rule apply?
The UTB applies to all of the Town of Cary and within the ETJ. The rule applies to waters in both the Neuse River Basin and Cape Fear River Basin.

What waters require 100-foot buffers?
All perennial and intermittent streams including lakes, ponds and other bodies of water as indicated on the most recent version of the 1:24,000 scale (7.5 minutes) quadrangle topographic maps prepared by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shall have a 100-foot wide riparian buffer directly adjacent to such surface waters, excluding wetlands.

What waters require 50-foot buffers?
All other surface waters as indicated by the most recent published versions of the Soil Surveys of Wake and Chatham Counties, North Carolina shall have a 50 foot-wide riparian buffer adjacent to such waters.

Can someone receive a variance from the rules?
Yes. For a variance from the 50-foot Neuse Buffer, application for variance must be made to the State of North Carolina. All other variance requests may be made to the Town of Cary.

For additional FAQs see:
Riparian Buffer Protection Rules for the Neuse and Cape Fear River Basins
Jordan Lake Urban Transition Buffer Fact Sheet


Eric W. Kulz
Environmental Specialist
(919) 462-3931