Refer to Section 3.5 for Non-Conforming Situations. G_Ch3_Applicability
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The Unified Development Ordinance was created to increase the development standards in the zoning jurisdiction of Gaston County. The UDO was developed with the municipalities to draft an ordinance that promotes highly consistent development processes. Each municipality may adopt the UDO in whole or part to create the development consistency throughout the County.
All land use ordinances have been condensed into one document that includes
The UDO also addresses certain development requirements such as but not limited to
A copy of this ordinance can be viewed online, purchased on paper for $60 (color) and $55 (black and white), on disk for $25, or a copy may be viewed for no charge at:
Gaston County Planning Office128 W Main AvenueGastonia, NC 28054
Planning is a local government function to achieve current and long-term land use goals. Comprehensive Plan Zoning is a tool of Planning and is implemented to achieve the Planning goals. An ordinance is set up to establish Zoning Districts to foster designations for certain types of development and / or uses (i.e. single-family homes, business parks, retail centers, etc.) and to establish regulations for each district such as setbacks, etc.
Questions pertaining to the UDO should be directed to the Gaston County Planning and Development Services Department. The Planning Department is located at the Gaston County Administration Building. Please call 704-866-3075 or email Laura Hamilton for additional information.
A helpful list of relevant terms can be found in Chapter 2 of the UDO F_Ch2_Defin Section III of the Minimum Housing Ordinance and Section 6 of the Road Naming and Addressing Ordinance.
A zoning permit will be needed:
Chapter 13 deals with property subdivision. There are two different types of subdivisions: minor and major. Minor subdivisions involve five or fewer lots, no new streets, and no new public utilities. They can be approved by the Administrator. All other subdivisions are considered major subdivisions. They must first be reviewed by the Technical Review Committee (TRC) which makes recommendations to the Planning Board. The Gaston County Planning Board makes preliminary plat approval for major subdivisions. A Public Hearing with the Board of Commissioners is required for subdivisions exceeding two hundred fifty (250) lots. Table 13.8-1 summarizes the approval process for all plats. Q_Ch13_Subd
For complaints concerning zoning, minimum housing, and junk cars call 704-866-3075. For building code violations call 704-866-3155.
To verify what watershed you are located in, if any, please refer to the interactive website. The regulations for the Watershed areas are located in Chapter 15 of the UDO: S_Ch15_Watershed
For more information, please refer to Environmental Planning. Chapter 16 of the UDO has the regulations pertaining to flood-prone areas. T_Ch16_Flood
Failure to comply with any provision of this Ordinance is hereby declared unlawful. Any violation occurring once within a twelve (12) month period shall be considered a first offense. A notice of violation shall be issued by the Administrator and shall provide for a warning period as provided for in Section 18.5(C) to correct the violation. Upon the expiration of the warning period, the violator shall be subject to a civil penalty of one hundred ($100.00) dollars for each day that the violation remains on the property. Should a violation continue to exist by the twenty-first (21st ) day past the date of original notification, the County may seek to recover the penalty together with all costs by filing a civil action in the General Court of Justice in the nature of a suit to collect a debt. The collection of a penalty pursuant hereto shall not foreclose further proceedings for penalties coming due subsequent to the date of the filing of a prior proceeding. The provisions of this section may also be enforced through any other appropriate remedies as prescribed in Section 18.4 herein.
Any violation of reoccurring on the same property by the same violator more than once within a twelve (12) month period shall be considered a repeat offense provided the reoccurrence is a violation of the same Section of this Ordinance. A notice of violation shall be issued by the Administrator and shall have an immediate civil penalty of three hundred ($300.00) dollars. No warning period shall be granted since this provision applies only to violations that occur more than once in a twelve (12) month period and proper notice was given for the initial violation as prescribed under Section 18.5. For each day the repeat violation remains, the violator shall be subject to a civil penalty of three hundred ($300.00) dollars. Should a violation continue to exist by the seventh (7th ) day after such notification, the County may seek to recover the penalty together with all costs by filing a civil action in the General Court of Justice in the nature of a suit to collect a debt. The collection of a penalty pursuant hereto shall not foreclose further proceedings for penalties coming due subsequent to the date of the filing of a prior proceeding. The provisions of this section may also be enforced through any other appropriate remedies as prescribed in Section 18.4 herein. The project / job will be delayed if violations exist and it should be in your best interest to comply with the ordinance initially. Refer to Chapter 18 of the UDO for more information. V_Ch18_Violation
Charges vary for different applications and permits. Refer to the Fee Schedule (PDF).
Certain uses are subject to the issuance of a conditional use permit. The purpose is to ensure that a certain use is compatible with surrounding development and is in keeping with the general zoning district in which it is located. Such Conditional Use Permit is contingent upon the property owner meeting fair and reasonable conditions, associated with the issuance of a conditional use permit, that ensure the compatibility of the use with surrounding properties and promote the general welfare of the community. Refer to Section 5.11. I_Ch5_Permit_Approval
Parallel conditional use districts are established to consider situations where a particular use may be acceptable on a lot or tract of land but the other uses permitted in a general zoning district would not be acceptable. Such rezoning is made contingent upon the property owner meeting fair and reasonable conditions, associated with the issuance of a conditional use permit, that ensure the compatibility of the use with surrounding properties and promote the general welfare of the community. Refer to Section 5.16.4. I_Ch5_Permit_Approval
It is an application to amend the Ordinance to add or remove regulations. Any proposed amendment to the text of this Ordinance may be initiated by the governing board, Planning Board, by any owner of a legal or equitable interest in a piece of property located within the geographical boundaries of this Ordinance, by a local government agency, or by any other person in accordance with the procedures set forth herein. See Section 5.17.2 I_Ch5_Permit_Approval
A variance is an adjustment to the regulations as listed in the UDO. Two different Boards hear variance cases. The Planning Board hears variances only for Chapter 13, subdivision regulations. The Board of Adjustment hears variances for all other chapters of the UDO. You will need to fill out the appropriate application, pay a fee, and submit with the required documentation. For subdivision variances refer to Section 13.7. Q_Ch13_Subd For all other variance issues refer to Section 5.14. I_Ch5_Permit_Approval
Except as provided herein, the Board of Adjustment shall hear and decide appeals from and review any order, requirement, decision, interpretation or citation made by the Administrator and apply such interpretation to particular fact situations. In addition, the Administrator may ask the Board of Adjustment to interpret the Official Zoning Map and to pass upon disputed questions of lot lines or district boundary lines and similar questions that may arise in the administration of this Ordinance. Refer to Section 5.13. I_Ch5_Permit_Approval Notwithstanding the above, any decision made by the Administrator relative to Chapter 13 shall first be appealed to the Planning Board per Section 13.6. Any such decision made by the Planning Board may be appealed to the governing board in accordance with Section 13.6. Refer to Section 13.6. Q_Ch13_Subd
A permit, issued by the Board of Adjustment that would allow the property owner to develop or make use of his/her property with prescribed minor deviations to the terms of this Ordinance. Special Exceptions follow the same procedures as a variance. Refer to Section 5.12. I_Ch5_Permit_Approval
Refer to the calendars for dates.
Refer to Building Inspections for forms and information for submittal for a Building Permit.
This information begins on page 7-21 in Chapter 7 of the UDO. K_Ch7_District_Regs_UseTable1
A home occupation permit shall be required to ensure that a proposed home occupation is developed in accordance with all applicable provisions of this Ordinance. Lists of permissible customary and home occupations are found in Section 8.1.14 and 8.1.15. L_Ch8_Suppl
Verify the use and the allowed zoning district in the Table of Uses in Chapter 7. K_Ch7_District_Regs_UseTable1 Then if the Use is Commercial, follow the Commercial Site Plan Review procedures found in Section 5.2. I_Ch5_Permit_Approval If the Use is Residential, then follow the steps FAQ #23 for single-family dwellings or the Supplement Regulations for other residential uses as listed in the Table of Uses 7.1-1 in Chapter 7.
The USO refers to the areas of land that are considered urban in nature and assumed to remain that way for the next 10 - 15 years. Refer to 7.6.3 for further information regarding the Urban Standards Overlay District. K_Ch7_District_Regs_UseTable1
Landscaping provides Gaston County with numerous benefits such as: reduction in soil erosion, mitigation of certain pollution, screen unsightly equipment, shade impervious surfaces, and preserve native vegetation. Specific regulations can be found in Chapter 11 at: O_Ch11_Screening
These regulations encourage the effective use of signs in order to maintain an attractive look to the county, improve pedestrian / bicyclist / motorist safety, and minimize adverse affects of signage to nearby property. Specific regulations can be found in Chapter 12 at: P_Ch12_Signs
Parking requirements exist to promote the safety of motorists and pedestrians. Parking requirements insures safer access to businesses, sufficient parking dimensions / capacities, and sufficient storage for recreational vehicles and boats. Specific regulations can be found in Chapter 10 at: N_Ch10_Parking
Open space is a new requirement for subdivisions that aims to preserve open areas of land within subdivisions. See Section 11.7 for additional information concerning:
Chapter 13 provides information on how to subdivide property, including, but not limited to access, open space, how approved, plan requirements, street design, etc. Refer to Section 13 for a complete listing of subdivision standards Q_Ch13_Subd
The Board of County Commissioners in 1977, by ordinance, created the County Planning Board to conduct the following activities: -make recommendations on rezoning cases and text changes; -render decisions on subdivisions; -hear variance cases pertaining to only Chapter 13 (Subdivisions); -make studies of Gaston County and surrounding areas; -determine objectives in the development of the study area; -develop and recommend policies, ordinances and/or procedures for obtaining the objectives; -and other related matters. Refer to Section 4.4 and Table 4.1-1 for other information and duties of the Planning Board. H_Ch4_Admin_Agencies_Funct
The Board of Commissioners is the governing body for Gaston County’s unincorporated areas and makes the final decision for all rezoning cases. Refer to Section 4.2 and Table 4.1-1 for information and duties given to the Board of Commissioners pertaining to zoning matters. H_Ch4_Admin_Agencies_Funct
The Gaston County Board of Adjustment was established in 1992 by the Board of County Commissioners. It is made up of appointed volunteers to serve the citizens of the County in making decisions pertaining to zoning and land use ordinances. The Board of Adjustment hears and decides on:
The Board hears and reviews each application/request during a public hearing. Their decision is made by applying specific findings of facts to the testimony and evidence presented at the public hearing. The Board of Adjustment acts in a quasi-judicial status when making these decisions. This status precludes them from political pressure and lobbying prior to hearings since ex parte communications with the Board members is prohibited. Refer to Section 4.5 and Table 4.1-1 for other information and duties of the Board of Adjustment. H_Ch4_Admin_Agencies_Funct