Skip to Content

Land Use Classifications in the Critical Area

The County's Critical Area Program consists of three classifications of land development within the Critical Area. Classifications were based on existing development and public services available as of December 1, 1985, the effective date of the State's Critical Area program.

The Buffer Management Overlay (BMO) zone is a zone that may be placed over lands within the IDA, LDA, or RCA. Lands with a BMO designation include shoreline areas where it has been demonstrated that the existing pattern of development in the Critical Area prevents the Buffer from fulfilling the functions for water quality and habitat protection. Specific regulations guiding development on lands labeled BMO can be found in the Ordinance.

Maps delineating the Critical Area and its specific overlay zones have been formally approved as part of the County's Critical Area program and are available on the County's website and by contacting staff members in the Department of Land Use and Growth Management.

Building in the Critical Area

Any development activity (disturbance to land, natural vegetation, or structural additions and placement) in the Critical Area requires authorization. Permit applications can be obtained electronically, online at the County's website, or in hard copy from the Department of Land Use and Growth Management. A Critical Area quality site plan must accompany the permit application. Projects proposing to disturb more than 5,000 square feet typically require an erosion and sediment control plan as well as a stormwater management plan designed by a professional surveyor or engineer. Disturbance to the Critical Area Buffer routinely requires variance approval from the Board of Appeals.