What is a Conservation Overlay District (COD), and what can I do within a COD?

A Conservation Overlay District is meant to protect important environmental and cultural resources. The effective date of the ordinance (Section 59.4) is December 1, 1984.

  • What are considered important resources?
    • Important resources include swamp forest, Pocosin, Savannah, natural ponds, freshwater marsh, brackish marsh, primary nursery areas, barrier island-beach complex, maritime shrub thickets, salt marsh, animal and plant natural areas of special significance, and archaeological and historical resources including cemeteries.
  • How do I know if my parcel of land is associated with a COD?
    • Mapping tools are available to help determine if a COD resource exists on or near a property. Planning & Land Use staff are also available for on-site determinations.
  • What is the distance of the COD setback?
    • The COD setback distance for buildings and impervious surfaces varies from 25 feet to 100 feet from the edge of the resource depending on the type of resource.
  • What can I do within the conservation space?
    • Conservation space must not be cleared of vegetation and must 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, allow water to drip through, and the ground below is left undisturbed or planted with ground cover.

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1. Do I need a permit for a swimming pool?
2. Do I need a permit to build a fence?
3. Do I need a permit to put up a sign?
4. Do Zoning staff regulate animal issues?
5. Do Zoning staff regulate noise issues?
6. How can I find out the zoning of my property?
7. Is a permit required to operate a Residential Care Facility?
8. What are subdivision regulations?
9. What are the regulations for home occupations?
10. What are zoning regulations?
11. What is a Conservation Overlay District (COD), and what can I do within a COD?
12. What is a Unified Development Ordinance?
13. What is a variance and how do I obtain one?
14. What is required by the Zoning office to open a business in New Hanover County?