Sharing the Burden of Water Supply Protection
5 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 6, 2010
North Carolina law requires local governments to adopt zoning ordinances and land use restrictions for watersheds that feed water supplies. Watershed protection ordinances often contain minimum lot size restrictions that constrain development density in the watershed. This article examines vacant land prices in the Buncombe County, NC, Ivy River watershed before and after one of these ordinances was implemented in order to determine its effect on land prices. Its findings suggest that costs of watershed development restrictions are borne primarily by those vacant land owners in the watershed for whom the development restrictions make land subdivision infeasible. Conversely, property owners whose water supply is protected by these ordinances experienced an increase in property values. This suggests a transfer could be made that would compensate property owners harmed by this regulation.
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