Clear-Cutting Permit

Clear-Cutting Permit

A Clear-Cutting Permit is used by the City to provide guidance and regulate the removal of healthy trees on a development site which is not subject to an approved Site or Subdivision Plan. The intent is to allow some clearing while retaining trees in areas which are off limit to development, and a buffer of vegetation along the property perimeter.

The removal of a diseased, dead or dying tree does not require a clear-cutting permit, nor does tree removal on single family detached residential lots established prior to 2011.  Agricultural, horticultural, or forestry lands taxed at present use value in accordance with Sections 105-277.2 through 277.7 of the North Carolina General Statutes may timber or conduct land disturbing activity without a clear-cutting permit as long as a vegetated perimeter buffer is retained as described Subsection 30-2.C.9.b.2.b of the UDO (

 The following examples should assist applicants in understanding when a Clear-Cutting Permit is required.

Example 1: Clearing on Vacant Land

A landowner of a vacant, wooded 50-acre lot with two specimen trees seeks only to timber the land.  The land is not used for farming or forestry purposes, the landowner has no development plans, and has not submitted any development applications.  In order to proceed with clearing the land and/or engaging in land-disturbing activity, the landowner is required to obtain a Clear-Cutting Permit and is limited on the area in which trees may be removed: Trees proposed for removal may not be located in areas off limit to development; specimen trees must be identified and protected unless a compelling argument is made as to why such trees should be removed, accompanied by the removal fee ; and a buffer of  vegetation must be retained along the property perimeter since development plans have not yet been approved.  Failure of the landowner to obtain a Clear-Cutting Permit before timbering or failure to comply with the Clear-Cutting Permit while timbering is a violation of the UDO and would subject the landowner to the available enforcement and remedies.


Example 2: Clearing After an Approval

A landowner of a vacant, wooded 50-acre lot with two specimen trees seeks to subdivide the land, and submits an application to the City for a Subdivision Plan.  The subdivision cannot be developed without removal of the specimen trees. The Subdivision Plan is approved and the applicant pays the specimen tree removal fee.  The landowner may proceed in clearing the land and/or engaging in land-disturbing activities according to the approved Subdivision Plan.  The landowner is not required to obtain a Clear-Cutting Permit.