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NC State Extension

Land Use Law

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Harnett County VAD GIS Buffer Map

The Land Use Law resources page cover the intersection where the legal rights of property ownership and use meet the rights of the public and other landowners- by government regulation or private action – to limit certain rights and uses. Topics include:  title to real property; heir property, common law claims, including trespass, nuisance and personal injury liability; hunting and timber rights; how property is zoned by local government; how society provides landowners incentives — through limitations of tort liability such as right to farm; Conservation incentives including cash payments and tax deductions for conservation easements and stream mitigation.

These topics and more are taught through our Land Summit Series. Click here for information on that program.

Select Land Use Laws in Agricultural Production. Recent presentation survey of land use topics in North Carolina (delivered first to ASAP Business of Agriculture Conference February 24, 2024)


This section concerns matters of title to real property, as well as liability for injuries that are property-related (including operational liabilities such as nuisance and trespass). Key words: nuisance, trespass, land title, easements, co-tenancy, joint tenancy, tenancy by the entireties, partition, heir property, hunting leases, tree fall, recreational liability, present use value, property taxes.


This section concerns matters of conservation practices and programs aimed at soil and water conservation and preservation of farmland. Key words: conservation easement, Farm Bill, Soil & Water Conservation, Voluntary Agricultural Districts.


This section concerts matters of local government zoning and other ordinances regulating use of land for farming, forestry and other purposes. Key words: bona fide farm, extraterritorial jurisdiction, ETJ, tree ordinance, zoning, public nuisance


Environmental and Natural Resource Regulation generally concerns laws related to how and when farming and other land use activities impact ecosystem processes and the health of soil, air, water in a manner detrimental to wildlife and people. This is a broad area of law that includes legislation, regulations on their application and enforcement, and judicial decisions interpreting their scope and permissible impact and limitations on human commerce. Key words: nuisance, trespass, riparian buffer, stream mitigation, Endangered Species Act, wetlands, Waters of the United States, WOTUS, Army Corps of Engineers, ditch, drainage


Content loaded to Agricultural and Natural Resource Law portal, including narratives, workbooks and presentations, is supported by The North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission (TTFC) (Grant award 2019-001-16).