Development and Inspections
Stormwater Development reviews plans for all development within the City of Raleigh and performs inspections based on specific permit type. Stormwater Development responds to inquiries from citizens, property owners, realtors, lenders, contractors, developers, and Home Owner’s Associations regarding properties that may be affected by an environmental regulation or impacted by sediment or stormwater.
Stormwater Development systematically reviews plans, approves permits, and conducts inspections throughout the life of a stormwater project, as well as, ensures proper maintenance and function of permanent stormwater devices after the completion of a project.
Plan reviews are conducted on:
- Preliminary subdivision and site plans
- Infrastructure construction plans
- Recorded maps
- Plans submitted for permit issuance
- As-built plans and certifications
More information about obtaining permits can be found online through the Development Services Guide.
The Inspections portion of Stormwater Development is made up of two sections:
Once a permit is issued, Construction Inspections completes inspections that occur at construction sites at least once every two weeks. There are seven inspectors on staff to serve residents. Inspections are covered within two regions of Raleigh:
- East Region: Serves east from Six Forks Road to South Saunders Street;
- West Region: Serves west from Six Forks Road to South Saunders Street.
Please see the Construction Inspections Section’s Regional Map for contact information.
Stormwater Control Measure (SCM) Inspections
After stormwater projects are completed, SCM Inspections tracks the maintenance of all permanent stormwater control devices. Questions for SCM Inspections can be directed to SCMInspections@raleighnc.gov or 919-996-3940.Learn more about Inspections
All permits that are issued must be in compliance with City, state, and federal regulations as they apply to the following:
- Flood Hazard Areas;
- Neuse River Buffers;
- Watershed Protection Overlay Districts;
- Erosion and Sedimentation Control;
- Single Family Erosion Control; and,
- Smaller Site Development.
Flood Hazard Areas
Stormwater Development manages the City’s floodplain program by reviewing projects for compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and enforcing City and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain regulations during permitting.
All work proposed within/or adjacent to a designated flood hazard area requires a Flood Permit. Once a permit is obtained, the construction inspector checks the site for installation of benchmarks and, upon completion, ensures that work is conducted per the approved permit. The inspector also ensures that all necessary elevation certificates, FEMA or City, are completed for the activity.Learn more about Flood Hazard Areas
Neuse River Buffers
The City of Raleigh lies within the Neuse River Basin and is subject to riparian buffer requirements. The Neuse River Buffer is measured 50 feet from the top of the bank on both sides of a stream or 50 feet from the average high water level of surface waters.
If activities are proposed within this buffer then the North Carolina Division of Water Resources (DWR) should be consulted and permits may be required.
If a project is located adjacent to a Neuse River Buffer the City of Raleigh will often require a Watercourse Buffer Permit. When a buffer permit is issued by the City of Raleigh, the construction inspector will ensure that all watercourse buffers on the property are properly flagged and that prohibited activities do not occur in the buffer. If unauthorized work occurs in the buffer, DWR will be notified if enforcement is required.View DWR Neuse River Riparian Buffer Rules
Watershed Protection Overlay Districts
In Raleigh, three areas are designated as Watershed Protection Overlay Districts:
- Upper Neuse River/Richland Creek;
- Falls Lake; and,
- Swift Creek.
Properties within a Watershed Protection Overlay District are subject to special conditions. Watershed restrictions include utilizing measures to treat stormwater and limiting the amount of hard impervious surfaces such as buildings, driveways, and sidewalks.
Plan Review assesses plans for development within these districts for compliance with Article 9.5 of the City of Raleigh Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).
Development activities, including minor improvements, within the Watershed Protection Overlay District are required to obtain a Watershed Permit. When a stormwater project is completed, the construction inspector ensures that necessary as-built surveys are submitted, stormwater devices are installed, and/or impervious surface limits are not exceeded.
Erosion and Sedimentation Control
Sediment is a leading pollutant in Raleigh's waterways. To address this, the North Carolina Sedimentation Pollution Control Act (SPCA) of 1973 established a statewide program to control soil erosion and sedimentation. In that same year, the City of Raleigh was the first municipality delegated by the NC Land Quality Section to enforce soil and erosion control regulations within the City of Raleigh and its Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ).
To limit sediment from entering waterways, Article 9.4 of the City of Raleigh UDO requires any land-disturbing activity that is 12,000 square feet or more in size to have a land disturbance permit prior to the start of any construction activity.
How to get a Land Disturbance Permit
To obtain a land disturbance permit, an erosion and sediment control plan must be submitted and reviewed for compliance with City and State erosion and sediment control guidelines. Plan Review assesses the erosion and sediment control plans as part of the Mass Grading Only and Concurrent Site Review processes and issues the land disturbance permit.
Once the permit is issued, the construction inspector will inspect the site on a regular basis to ensure the sediment and erosion control devices are in compliance with the approved plan and in proper working condition. Inspection of the site will continue until all work is complete and the site is stabilized.
If the area of land disturbance is one acre or more in size, the NC Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources requires that the individuals responsible for the land-disturbing activity record self-inspections after each phase of construction per 15A NCAC 04B .0131 requirements as well as NPDES self-monitoring per NCG010000 requirements.
These records are required from the start of construction to completion of the project.State Combined Self-Monitoring & Self Inspection Form
Single Family Erosion Control
A land disturbance permit is not required when building a single family home with less than 12,000 square feet of land disturbance. However, installation of erosion control measures is required for all single family lots regardless of size of disturbance. At a minimum, required measures include:
- A construction entrance utilizing two to three inch stone that measures 30 feet deep by 10 feet wide;
- Silt fence installed on low ends of the site and back of curb to ensure utilization of construction entrance.
An inspector will typically conduct an inspection once the footers are poured to ensure that erosion control measures are installed and maintained.Learn more about Single Family Erosion Control
Smaller Site Development
In November 2016, City Council approved an amendment to the City's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that incorporates stormwater regulation standards for smaller sites undergoing development or redevelopment that were previously exempt.
More information about the Smaller Site Development Updated Stormwater Regulations
Post Construction Control Measures
The City of Raleigh ensures that all new development within the City complies with the required water quality standards found in the UDO by reviewing stormwater and drainage plans, pollutant load calculations, and the design specifications for proposed stormwater devices.
Plan Review assesses the following:
- Stormwater and drainage plans as part of a preliminary subdivision and site plan review;
- Peak runoff calculations for pre-development and post-development conditions;
- Proposed stormwater device designs and detention calculations submitted with preliminary subdivision and site plans;
- Infrastructure construction plans; and,
- Plans and calculations submitted for permitting.
A Stormwater Tracking Permit is issued to “track” development for compliance with stormwater regulations related to stormwater runoff and stormwater device construction.Learn more about Stormwater Devices
Two types of sureties are required when conducting a land disturbing activity and installing post construction stormwater control measures.
If 12,000 square feet or more of land disturbance is proposed, a stabilization surety is required for the total disturbed acreage as identified on the submitted plans. This surety is equal to the cost of clearing, grubbing, and reseeding a site and shall be paid to the City before the grading permit is issued. The surety will ensure that stabilization is achieved throughout the disturbed areas in the event the Financially Responsible Party/Owner is unable to complete such task. The surety will be assessed using the following criteria:
- $1,000/acre of land disturbance rounded to the nearest 1/10 acre
(Example: If the land disturbance equals 1.12 acres, the surety is $1,000)
The stabilization surety will be released once the site is stabilized with a sufficient amount of ground cover to prevent erosion or permanent mowable vegetation with 100% coverage and 80% growth with no large bare patches. A certificate of completion is required in both cases. The City may cash the surety if the site discontinues maintenance on-site or if the site is issued a violation notice.
A surety equal to 125 percent of the cost of construction of a post construction stormwater control measure shall be paid to the City before a permit is issued. The surety will ensure that stormwater control measures are installed and functioning in the event the Financially Responsible Party/Owner is unable to complete such task. This surety will be released once the City has accepted the as-built certification. If the amount of impervious surfaces for the bonded area exceeds 15 percent, the City may cash the surety.
The process to set up a surety can take two to three weeks. To set up the surety and to ensure that a permit is received in a timely manner, call 919-996-3776 or email Jonathan.Mcneill@raleighnc.gov.
Once construction of a stormwater device is complete, an as-built certification form as well as an as-built plan and certification (issued by a licensed professional engineer, registered landscape architect, or professional land surveyor) must be submitted.
As-built certifications are only accepted electronically to AsBuiltSubmittal@raleighnc.gov (effective March 20, 2017). Print copies will no longer be accepted.
Here is what you will need to complete the as-built certification process:
- You will receive an inspection report from a City stormwater inspector who has verified that the stormwater device is installed appropriately and that it is operating properly. The inspection includes ensuring that the device and area draining to the device are completely stabilized;
- The certification process includes providing a completed as-built certification form (Form 511), inspection report, and photos that represent the current condition of the stormwater device;
- The as-built certification must be signed and sealed within seven days of the date that the document was emailed to City staff; and,
- Please allow seven calendar days for City plan reviewers to accept or reject an as-built certification. A certification will not be approved for review until all required items are provided.
Annual Inspection Reports
Annual inspection reports from a Licensed Professional Engineer, Registered Landscape Architect, or Professional Land Surveyor need to be completed each year and submitted to the Stormwater Management Division certifying that stormwater devices have been maintained and are still operating properly. For this annual inspection, please complete the report summary for all functioning devices (Form-501).
Annual inspection reports on stormwater devices that are now required due to the amendment to the City's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for smaller site development, do not require professionally sealed reports. However, an inspection report summary (Form-502) must be signed by the property owner and submitted annually to the City of Raleigh. This form states that the stormwater devices on site are being maintained regularly and are functioning as designed.
SCM inspectors will perform on-site inspections on at least one-third of the annual report submittals and are responsible for documenting and storing the received annual inspection reports.
Questions about annual inspections can be directed to SCMInspections@raleighnc.gov or 919-996-3940.