This week the N.C. Court of Appeals published Tonter Investments v. Pasquotank County, an appeal by a developer who purchased three tracts of land before the county adopted an ordinance requiring all newly subdivided land to have at least 25 feet of road frontage and be within 1,000 feet of a public water supply.
The developer alleged that this was a local government’s attempt to bypass state laws allowing lots ten acres and larger to be created without being considered subdivisions.
The court noted that counties have broad powers to regulate land but agreed that they have limited powers to regulate subdivisions. As such, a county may not adopt a subdivision ordinance governing lots greater than ten acres in size. The court reasoned that the ordinances did not prevent subdivisions larger than 10 acres and that lots exempt from subdivision control are nonetheless still under zoning control. The court upheld the ordinance as a valid exercise of zoning powers.