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Impervious Setback Question (Almost unbuildable lot)  



Hello All, 

I have a questions concerning Impervious Setbacks and how they attach to a lot. 

I purchased a lot that border a creek with a  25' setback. The Surveyor has found that there is a Impervious Setback on the lot of 50' meaning we have to build 75' from the creek. 

What this means for us is that our house will sit too close to the road and our site plan has been decline by the Architectural Board and now looking at filing a Variance to move the home back. If the Variance is not approved we will be stuck with a unbuildable lot. 

Who implements the Impervious Setback? (1 person or a committee) And can it be reverse without a variance? Could I find this information at the County Court House? 

We are at the end of the subdivision but the 8 Adjacent homes built within the 25 foot creek buffer why would our lot be different? 

Other than filing for the variance what would your next step be? 

Attached is the plat/site plan

Thank you,

IMG 0010




11 Answers

The answers to your questions are going to be very specific to the jurisdiction that the property is located in. That info might be on your map but I couldn't zoom in on my phone to see that level of detail. 


Stephen is correct, but I would think that the impervious setback would also start at the property line and the creek buffer would be inside the 50' impervious setback.

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I don't see why the setbacks have to add. Can't the 50 be measured from the creek?

Nothing built within 25 and nothing that interferes with absorption of water into the ground within 50 of the creek.  The region between could then for instance include a patio with the special paving.

That interpretation is what I would look into.


Was the impervious surface limitation recorded as part of the subdivision plat or is this something the municipality dreamed up more recently?


The impervious setback in the city listed by the op is very specific. It is in addition to other jurisdictional setbacks.

Keep in mind this doesn't answer the question. The property could be in a completely different state for all we know...

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I would ask your surveyor since the answer will vary based on your jurisdiction. If your surveyor doesn't know, find one that's savvy about development restrictions

in your area. Meet with the planning/inspection folks to determine if there are options.

It's unbelievable how often I see things like this. Do your homework before buying raw land.

Do not depend on realtors, attorneys or building contractors for advice when purchasing raw land.



I take it this is in Barrow County, Georgia.

I also take it "impervious" means you can't have concrete or asphalt or a building but gravel driveway, for example, might be acceptable.


In every subdivision, the expectation to have a buildable area is intended on every lot on the drawing.

At the time of purchase, any and all information about being able to build on the land is supposed to be disclosed by the seller and their agents.

With that said, when the combined restrictions say that you can not build, you are due a refund plus any other expenses occurred in your attempt to build.

You may also have the right to a civil suit against nearly everyone involved.



This is what I needed to here. Thank you a-harris


Not necessarily true if your in a caveat emptor state

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BTW, for casual readers, assuming this is in Monroe, Georgia, a quick read of their regulations indicates all houses to be built must be of brick, stone or other masonry construction and no more than 60 percent of the total land area is to be covered with impervious surfaces, such as structures, driveways, sidewalks and patios.  Garage doors cannot face a street, thus creating a larger impervious area for the driveway.


Appears you are in Barrow County, Georgia.  The county UDO has a section Sec. 89-971. - Stream buffers which requires setbacks of 50' from the edge of the stream.  I did not see the 'edge of the stream' on your survey.  Not sure what the SWB (on your plat) is but the stream appears to be in a 20' drainage easement.  The SWB appears to be some kind of a buffer (stormwater?).  Regardless, the setback that regulates how close you can build to the stream is the 50' from the edge of stream.  As for the other lots/houses, they appear to be 50' from what looks like the stream on aerial photos.  

The lot appears to be in a subdivision and there are likely additional covenants you may need be concerned with.  The lot does appear to be buildable, maybe not the size home you would like.  

As others have said, it is jurisdiction dependent.  The ARB is likely for the development and the stream setback is the county - 2 different entities.  Get copies of the subdivision plans to include drainage, utilities, grading, and environmental.  Get copies of the subdivision plat.  Locate the edge of the stream.  Build  a constraints map and find out how much footprint you can build.  Talk to the County if you cannot find a suitable footprint and see if they will or can support a waiver.



It is possible the 25 foot setback from the wrested vegetation was the county's  erosion and sedimentation ordinance back when the subdivision was created. I know there was a push for some counties to change it to 50 feet. So it could be that it was 25 and now is 50 and if your lot is now non-buildable you may have an inverse condemnation claim, although very hard to do.

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