AN ACT TO MAKE CHANGES TO THE LAND USE REGULATORY LAWS OF THE STATE.
Amends GS 143-755 concerning permit choice for development, providing that this section also applies to zoning permits. Deletes language which previously provided that it did not apply to zoning permits.
Amends GS 160A-385(b) and GS 153A-344(b), both concerning the applicability of certain ordinances or regulations to already issued building permits, providing that amendments in land development regulations, as specified, including zoning ordinances or unified development ordinances, are not applicable or enforceable without the written consent of the owner with regard to building, uses, or developments for which either a zoning permit or a building permit has been issued before the enactment of the changes or amendments as long as either permit remains valid and unexpired (previously, amendments in zoning ordinances were not applicable or enforceable without consent of the owner with regard to buildings and uses for building permits issued prior to the enactment of the change(s) as long as the permits remain valid as specified or a vested right has been established and remains valid as specified). Also adds language that provides that written consent is required for changes or amendments to be enforceable if a vested right has been established as specified or if a vested right is established by the terms of a development agreement.
Enacts new GS 160A-393.1, Civil action for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, or other remedies, establishing an appeal process for landowners, permit applicants, or tenants that have been aggrieved by a final and binding decision involving ordinances that regulate land use or development. Provides that in lieu of an appeal to a board of adjustment, these parties can maintain an original action in superior court or business court for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, damages, or any other remedies provided by law or equity when specified claims or defense are asserted, including constitutional matter or the invalidity of the development regulation. Sets out timelines for filing an action as well as establishing the hearing process as the exclusive means for obtaining relief after an appeal has been concluded pursuant to GS 160A-388(b1).
Amends GS 160A-364.1 concerning the statute of limitations for certain causes of action of development regulations, making a conforming change.
Amends GS 160A-393, provisions concerning the appeals of quasi-judicial decisions of decision-making boards such as the planning board or board of adjustment, expanding the scope of review for writs of certioari, providing that a petitioner can assert and the court must determine de novo claims or defenses including the invalidity if an ordinance, a constitutional matter, preemption, 42 USC 1983, or common law vested rights. Specifies when such claims or defense must be made known to the decision-making board. Makes conforming changes.
Enacts new GS 160A-393.2, No estoppel effect when challenging unlawful conditions, providing that landowners or permit holders cannot be precluded from making a timely challenge to any unlawful condition imposed as a result of land development regulations as specified as a result of actions by the landowner or applicant to proceed with the development or use.
Amends GS 6-21.7 to provide that the court can award reasonable attorneys' fees upon a finding that the city or county violated a statute that set clear limits on its authority or otherwise abused its discretion (previously, allowed such awards upon a finding that the city or county acted outside the scope of its legal authority). Adds language that attorneys' fees can be awarded to the prevailing private litigant in all other matters. Makes technical and clarifying changes.
Amends GS 6-19.1, concerning attorney's fees to parties appealing or defending against an agency decision, providing that in specified civil actions, unless the State is the prevailing party, the court must allow the prevailing party to recover reasonable attorneys' fees arising under GS Chapter 150B, Article 3, or any other provision of law if specified conditions are met (was, the court could in its discretion allow the prevailing party to recover fees for contested cases arising under GS Chapter 150B, Article 3, if specified conditions are met). Provides that one of the specified conditions to be met is that an agency acted without substantial justification and adds language which clarifies that the lack of substantial justification is conclusively established when an agency acts in violation of a statute that sets clear limits on its authority.
Amends GS 1A-1, Rule 65, Injunctions, of the Rules of Civil Procedure, deleting language which provided that no security for a restraining order or preliminary injunction will be required of the State or of any county or municipality, or any officer or agency acting in an official capacity.
Effective October 1, 2015.
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