Riparian Buffers

Purpose of Riparian BuffersAerial shot of green land, trees, and a band of water and sediment running between the trees

Riparian (stream) buffers help promote good water quality.  

  • Buffers remove pollutants such as oil from roads and nutrients from over-fertilized lawns.
  • Buffers also slow floodwaters, trapping sediment to help build stream banks and protect downstream property. 
  • By slowing down stormwater runoff, the buffer vegetation allows water to soak into the earth and recharge groundwater.

Requirements

  • A 100-foot buffer is required on any stream that flows year-round (perennial stream) and a 50-foot buffer on any stream that only flows during rain events (intermittent stream). The lengths are measured from the top of bank.
  • The Town Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) lists the buffer zones and allowable uses within each zone.

Buffer Impacts

If someone wants to build in or otherwise disturb a riparian buffer, certain documentation is required.  First please refer to UDO Section 6.1.11(G)(1) for the Table of Uses to see the list of what is "Allowable".

Watershed Protection Overlay District Map

The Watershed Protection Overlay District Map (PDF) illustrates the buffered streams in Apex.  

  • A shaded green buffer represents a 100-foot buffer on a perennial stream.
  • A blue shaded buffer represents a 50-foot buffer on an intermittent stream.
  • The Primary Watershed Protection District (red area) is land identified by the State as water supply watershed protected areas.
  • The Secondary Watershed Protection District (orange area) is all other land within Apex corporate limits and ETJ.

Homeowner Information

If you are considering improvements to your property such as a deck, patio, shed, or pool, in addition to applying for appropriate building permits, consider whether you will be building in a riparian buffer. State and local regulations restrict clearing and building within 50 to 100 feet of streams according to the Table of Uses referenced above.

Please note that within the buffer, it IS allowable to:

  • Prune vegetation
  • Remove dead trees
  • Remove nuisance vegetation (such as poison ivy, vines, and bamboo)

Buffer Call Information

Please contact Stormwater staff at (919) 249-3427 for more information about buffered streams.  To request a buffer call determination on your property, please complete a Buffer Call Application (PDF).  A Right of Entry form is one of the required items for all buffer call applications.

Further Resources

For more information, check out our Watershed Protection Brochure (PDF)