The new rules went into effect July 1, and the county received 23 applications for subdivisions just before the deadline, commissioner David Young said.
"Asheville and Buncombe County have been discovered," Young said. "Real estate in Florida has tanked, and we're getting a lot of developers coming in from other places wanting to develop our mountains. It scares me to death."
The new rules affect subdivisions with 11 or more lots. They control density on slopes greater than 25 percent and restrict the amount of cleared areas on steep lots.
The changes will likely increase development costs and prevent builders from placing homes on some mountainsides.
Debbie Truempy, a county planner, said her department usually gets three to five subdivision applications for each of its twice-monthly meetings. The 23 applications, for 1,713 lots, came in during the last week of June.
She noted that only a dozen applications were new master plans, and the rest were amendments to existing plans.
Developers contend that the surge is purely a business decision.
"It's not that anybody is trying to rape anything or exploit anything," Brad Galbraith, president of the Asheville Board of Realtors, said. "They're just trying to make a good business decision and abide by the rules and regulations in place at the time. It's not something where all of the sudden we're going to get a lot of skyscrapers."