Wake County Land Development

Behind the population growth in Wake County is an ever changing physical landscape. The area within the County's planning jurisdiction has shrunk in proportion to the growth in municipal annexations and extraterritorial jurisdictions (ETJs); eventually only those protected areas such as the water supply watersheds will remain.

Wake County's Planning Jurisdiction

Wake County covers approximately 857 square miles of land and water. Much of this land, however, is not in the County's planning jurisdiction. As the municipalities have grown, either through annexation or ETJ expansion, the amount of area in the County's planning jurisdiction has decreased. In the Wake County Land Use Plan, the County's jurisdiction has been divided into short-range urban service areas (SRUSA), long-range urban service areas (LRUSA) and non-urban areas.
As the names suggest, the SRUSA and LRUSA are expected to eventually be absorbed by the municipalities and will no longer be under County planning jurisdiction. Only those areas deemed non-urban (predominantly the water supply watersheds) will remain within the County's planning jurisdiction. If the land in the short-range and long-range urban services area is eventually converted into municipal territory, then the County's ultimate planning jurisdiction will be only 164 square miles, or less than 20% of the total area.

Wake County Land Development Statistics

Wake County proper: 857 square miles
2012 Municipal jurisdiction: 455 square miles
2012 County planning jurisdiction: 402 square miles
2013 Countywide residential permits: 6,195**; New commercial/industrial permits: 329**
**Wake County Revenue Department