Construction within the Town of Highlands may involve several different areas of regulation, depending on the nature and scope of construction. In addition to the North Carolina State Building, Plumbing, Electrical, Mechanical, and Fire codes which are enforced by the Macon County Inspection Department, the Town of Highlands enforces a Zoning, Subdivision, Soil Erosion & Sedimentation Ordinance, and a Code of General Ordinances. Before commencing any construction or remodeling, a Zoning Certificate must be obtained from the Town of Highlands; a Zoning Certificate may also be required for any change in use, even if no building permit is required. After obtaining a Zoning Certificate, application must be made to Macon County for a Building Permit. (A small portion of the east end of Town lies within Jackson County--see below.)
Requirements for Zoning Certificate:
In general, the following documents must be submitted to the Zoning Administrator before a Zoning Certificate may be issued:
Requirements for Watershed Protection Permit
Effective October 1, 1993, the Town has amended its Zoning Ordinance to implement requirements of the Watershed Protection Act of 1989. In Watershed Overlay Districts (which encompass most of the land within the Town limits), a Watershed Protection Permit must be issued in conjunction with a Zoning Certificate. This permitting requirements will affect submission of site plans in two ways:
Requirements for Building Permit:
After you receive a Town of Highlands Zoning Certificate and Watershed Protection Permit, you must apply for a County Building Permit. The Macon County Inspection Department is located in the Old Post Office building on Main Street in Franklin (Telephone 828-349-2000). In Jackson County, permits are issued by the Jackson County Inspection Department in Sylva; (828) 586-4055.
Unless the building is to be served by sewer, the County will require an Improvements Permit from the Macon County (or Jackson County) Health Department for new structures, or additions to existing structures which increase the number of bedrooms. A Request for Addition will also be required for any addition to the "footprint" of a building, to ascertain that clearances are maintained from the septic tank and drainage field. Applications for Macon County Improvements Permit and Requests for Addition are available at the Health Department or at the Town Office here in Highlands. Direct all inquiries regarding septic tanks to the Health Department in Franklin; (828) 369-9526.
The General Statutes require that certain kinds of work be performed only by licensed individuals; check with the County Inspection Department to ensure that you are in compliance with State law on contracting for General Contractors, Electrical/HVAC Contractors, and Plumbing Contractors.
In addition, different classes (residential and commercial) and limitations (limited, intermediate, and unlimited) of licenses are required, based on the type and the cost of construction (see NOTE below). A Town of Highlands Privilege License is required of all contractors.
If you are a licensed general, plumbing, or electrical contractor, you may not subcontract the work to unlicensed individuals. Employees of licensed contractors may actually do the work, so long as they are under the responsible supervision of the licensed individual and are actually on his payroll; it is illegal to use a license to permit an unlicensed individual to obtain a building permit, or to perform work which requires a license class higher than your own, or to falsify information about the cost of a job in order to avoid the intent of this law.
NOTE: In order to corroborate the cost of construction for the purpose of determining the permit fee, the Town of Highlands uses $60.00/SQUARE FOOT as a general yardstick to measure the cost of building in this area. If the cost estimate is less than that, you will be asked to explain and to document why.
All inspections will be made by the Town of Highlands and the appropriate County authority. The General Contractor and subcontractors are required to call for the proper inspections from the proper authority as work progresses. The County permit must be posted in a visible location at the job site near the entrance or at the distribution panel so that the inspector may initial and date this form after every inspection. Every attempt will be made to make inspections promptly but a minimum of 24 hours notice should be given for County inspections.
In addition to the required County inspections, the Town of Highlands will inspect the site before grading has begun, will inspect the water supply line to ensure 42" bury, and will conduct a final inspection.
In some cases, extra inspections may be necessary as required by either Inspection Department. No Certificate of Occupancy may be issued until final County and Town inspections have been made. The building may not be occupied, nor final power connected, until a C.O. has been issued by the Town of Highlands. The C.O. will take the form of a Certificate of Compliance, as well as a Watershed Protection Occupancy Permit, if applicable.
For Further Information:
Contact Michael Mathis - Town of Highlands Assistant Planning & Development Planning & Development Director 828.526.2118
Macon County: 828.349.2072
Jackson County: 828.586.7560
Updated December 14, 2007