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Johnston County, North Carolina
Planning and Zoning Department

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q:  How much land do I need to build a house?
A:  There is no minimum lot size for building a house as long as you can meet the setbacks from property lines. A single wide mobile home is the only structure requiring one acre. View the Building Setbacks document.

Q:  I want to subdivide my property. What do I need to do?
A:  You need to check with Environmental Health to make sure the property will perk and if so then contact a surveyor of your choice to subdivide the property. Notice: You have to have at least two acres (with well water) in order to subdivide and 1.33 acres (with county water) in order to subdivide.

Q:  What are the setbacks for structures?
A:  Setbacks are based on location/street where the property is located. Contact the Planning Department at 919-989-5150. View the Building Setbacks document.

Q:  Why can I put a doublewide on less than an acre but not a singlewide when a singlewide is smaller?
A:  When our ordinance changed in 2000 this was a recommendation from the Board of Commissioners. The purpose is to keep the area/property from looking like mobile home parks on road front lots.

Q:  What are the setbacks for fences or trees?
A:  There are no setbacks for fences or trees. We advise the public not to put them right on the property line just in case there is confusion as to where the actual property line is. We recommend 1-2 feet off property lines but the County cannot enforce that.

Q:  What do I need to do to get a perk test done?
A:  Contact Environmental Health at 919-989-5180.

Q:  I would like to put a mobile home (or another livable residence) on my property where my house is located now.
A:  Our ordinance does not allow more than one residence per tract of land. Either the existing home must be removed or the land must be subdivided.

Q:  What can I do about my neighbor who doesn't cut their grass?
A:  The County does not have anything in our ordinance related to grass cutting. Our Zoning Enforcement Officers send out letters to property owners advising them to cut their grass, however, we cannot enforce it. For more information on what the County can enforce, see the Zoning Enforcement page.

Q:  What can I do about my neighbor's trees that have grown over onto my property line or that were planted on my property?
A:  This is a legal matter that needs to be handled between the two property owners; the County does not handle issues such as these.

Q:  How can I find out if my property is in a flood plain?
A:  Contact the Planning Department at 919-989-5150.

Q:  Why do I need a Land Use Permit?
A:  We need to look at certain aspects of your project to insure that things like setbacks, flood plain, zoning, proposed use, and 911 address are taken care of before you proceed to other permitting agencies.

Q:  Is there a water line in front of my house? Do I have to connect to it?
A:  You can find more information about water lines and their related policies from the Johnston County Public Utilities Department. You can also call the Public Utilities department at 919-989-5075.

Q:  For what purposes can I use my property?
A:  The Planning Department publishes the Development Ordinance that lists the allowed uses of land. Please see the Ordinance. If you still have questions or need further information, please feel free to contact the Planning Department directly.

Q:  What is the zoning of my piece of property?
A:  You can find the zoning of your property by using our GIS MapClick interface. This interface is available on the web at From the MapClick GIS Application, you can locate your parcel, and then query the zoning information. Or, alternatively, you can stop by the Planning Office.

Q:  When do I need to get a building permit?
A:  More information about when a Building permit is needed can be found on the When and why Building Permits are Required page.

Q:  What is the Building Permit Process?
A:  More information about the process of obtaining a building permit can be found on the Building Permit Process page.

Q:  What do permits cost?
A:  Planning Department Fees are listed on the Fee Schedule page. These are the fees associated with the Planning Office. Building Inspections and Environmental Health each have separate fee schedules.

Q:  Is my property in a flood plain?
A:  Because of the potential liability this question poses, we ask that you come in to the Planning Office and point the property out to us on our flood plain map. We will check your property for flood plain proximity when writing a permit. Alternatively, you could check the North Carolina Flood Risk Information System. If the address is not found, you will need to visit the Planning Office.

Q:  What does being in the flood plain mean?
A:  Being in the flood plain means that there is a 1% chance that your property will be inundated (flooded) in any given year. Johnston County participates in the FEMA and FIRM programs. If you wish to build in the flood plain, there are certain building codes that must be met to ensure your safety. You should check with the Flood Plain Administrator for more information.

Q:  I want to develop my land. What do I need to do?
A:  The Development Ordinance lists what is required in developing land. Please also see the section in the Ordinance about subdividing property. Please feel free to contact the Planning Department directly with questions.

Q:  I want to build a fence. How close to the property line can I put it?
A:  Johnston County does not have a setback requirement for fences. We recommend, however, that you make sure that the fence is completely within your side of the property line.

Q:  How do I subscribe and unsubscribe from your Email notification list?
A:  Use the links below:

Page last updated: January 26, 2024

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Land Use Center
309 E. Market Street
Smithfield, NC 27577

(919) 989-5150