UDO Flag Amendment FAQ
On May 15, 2018, the Orange County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) approved several changes to the Uniform Development Ordinance (based on recommendations from the County Attorney’s office and Planning Department) to clarify standards governing the erection of flagpoles and display of flags.
- Click here for the BOCC agenda item from the May 15 meeting.
The following FAQs provide answers to basic question on this particular project.
What prompted this amendment?
Concerns from local residents and property owners over the lack of regulation(s) ensuring the display of a flag does not dominate local skylines.
Staff in the County Attorney’s office and Planning Department were directed to clarify standards governing the overall allowable height of flagpoles, their distance from common property lines, the allowable number of flags/flagpoles that could be erected on property, and maximum allowable flag area.
For more information on the purpose and intent of the amendment, please refer to the minutes from the March 20, 2018, BOCC regular meeting, which can be viewed here: server3.co.orange.nc.us:8088/WebLink8/0/doc/52122/Page1.aspx
Isn't this just an attempt to ban a specific type of flag?
No. The proposed amendment establishes specific, measurable standards with respect to the size and number of flags that can be displayed as well as height of any erected flagpole. These standards will be easy to abide by and enforce.
The proposed regulation does not establish content standards or ban a specific flag.
If adopted, where will proposed restrictions be enforced?
No County land-use regulation is enforceable on property that is located within one of the aforementioned municipal planning jurisdictions.
What changes did the BOCC approve on May 15?
The amendment establishes the following standards:
- Within a residential general use zoning district (including Rural Buffer, Agricultural Residential, Rural Residential, etc.) the amendment allows for the erection of a single flagpole and a maximum of three flags displayed, with each flag being a maximum of 24 square feet in area (e.g. 4x6 feet). The proposed amendment further limits the height of a flagpole in residential zoning districts to a maximum of twenty-four (24) feet in height;
- Within all other nonresidential general use zoning districts, the amendment allows up to three flags and three individual flagpoles. Each flag can be a maximum of 96 square feet in area (e.g. 8x12 feet). The amendment also proposes that flagpoles in nonresidential zoning districts be limited to a maximum of fifty-four (54) feet in height;
- In all general use zoning districts, a flagpole shall be required to observe a 20-foot setback from all property lines;
- The proposed ordinance contains language exempting flags, no greater than 12 inches in height, displayed on individual grave sites within a cemetery.
What about flags that have already been erected within the County?
Property owners with existing flags that exceed the allowable display size or number will have one year to bring the flags into compliance with the new standards established in the UDO.
What about flagpoles?
The proposed amendment language treats flags and flagpoles separately. A flagpole, in and off itself, is a device. It is not a ‘sign’ or a ‘flag’ but is simply a mechanism allowing for the display of a flag.
The UDO has existing regulations governing non-conforming structures. If a flagpole is ever damaged, destroyed, or has to be replaced for any reason, it can only be re-erected in compliance with applicable standards.
Can a flag be mounted on a structure?
Yes. It would, however, have to abide by established size and number limitation(s).
If I cannot meet established setbacks, does this mean I cannot erect a flagpole?
Property owners who cannot meet the setback requirements would have to obtain a variance to allow for the erection of a flagpole within required setback areas. Variance requests are reviewed by the Orange County Board of Adjustment and require the submittal of a variance application and submittal of a review fee in accordance with the adopted County fee schedule.
Does a flag painted on a structure have to meet established size limits?
A flag painted on the side of a building would be considered a mural/art and is not subject to current County regulations.
How will the County document existing flags?
If adopted, County staff will have to physically document all flags and flagpoles on property within its planning jurisdiction. Staff will not have the authority to go onto private property to document the presence of a flag or flagpole. Pictures will have to be taken from public/private rights-of-way.