Bill Summary for H 548 (2015-2016)

Summary date: 

Apr 7 2015

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
House Bill 548 (Public) Filed Thursday, April 2, 2015
Intro. by Stam, Bryan, Hamilton.

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Bill summary

Enacts new GS Chapter 160D, Local Planning and Development Regulation, which consolidates, reorganizes, and clarifies local planning and development regulations that were previously found in GS Chapter 153A, Article 18 (Planning and Regulation of Development for counties), and GS Chapter 160A, Article 19 (Planning and Regulation of Development for cities and towns). Consolidates city and county planning and development statutes, making the provisions applicable to local governments, while retaining necessary differences, and makes conforming changes.  Additionally, makes the following changes.

Article 1.

Sets out provisions concerning the applicability of the Article and Chapter. Sets out and defines terms. Adds and defines, or modifies the definitions of, administrative decision, determination, development approval, dwelling, evidentiary hearing, impact mitigation, landowner, legislative decision, local government, site plan, special use permit, subdivision, subdivision regulation, zoning map amendment or rezoning, and zoning regulation.

Amends language in GS 160D-1-3 to add that inclusion of an ordinance authorized by this Chapter or local act in a unified development ordinance does not expand, diminish, or alter the scope of authority for those ordinance provisions.

Enacts new GS 160D-1-4 providing that all rights, privileges, benefits, burdens, and obligations created by development approvals made pursuant to this Chapter attach to and run with the land.

Amends GS 160D-1-8 to specify the administrative process to be followed when a common law vested right is claimed.

Amends GS 160D-1-9 to prohibit a governing board member from voting on any zoning map amendment if the landowner of the property subject to the petition or the applicant is a person with whom the member has a close familial, business, or other associational relationship. Clarifies that a planning board or other appointed board member may not vote on a recommendation regarding a rezoning directly affecting someone with whom they have a close relationship even if no direct financial impact would result for the member, and that a staff member may not make an administrative decision affecting someone with whom they have a close relationship even if no direct financial impact would result.

Article 2.

Enact new GS 160D-2-3 allowing cities and counties to agree on single jurisdiction for regulation of parcels with split jurisdiction.

Enacts new GS 160D-2-4 to allow hearing and permit processing, but not decisions, to proceed in anticipation of a shift in jurisdiction.

Article 3.

Amends GS 160D-3-1 to update planning board functions. Allows a planning board to provide a preliminary forum for review of quasi-judicial decisions, so long as no part of the forum or recommendation is used as a basis for the deciding board.

Enacts new GS 160D-3-8 to allow governing boards to adopt rules of procedure that are consistent with the provisions of this Chapter. Requires a copy of the rules of procedure to be maintained by the local government clerk and posted on the local government website if one exists.

Enacts new GS 160D-3-9 requiring all members appointed to boards under this Article to take an oath of office before beginning their duties.

Article 4.

Amends language in GS 160D-4-3 to allow local governments to issue permits in print or electronic form. Allows applications for permits and development approvals to be made by the landowner, a lessee or person holding an option or contract to purchase or lease land, or an authorized agent of the landowner. Requires an ordinance enacted under the authority of GS Chapter 160D to designate the staff member(s) charged with making decisions under the ordinance. Specifies the procedures for modifying and revoking permits. Allows a local government to, after the completion of work or activity undertaken pursuant to a development approval, make final inspections and issue a certificate of compliance or occupancy if staff finds that the completed work complies with all applicable state and local laws and with the terms of the approval. Prohibits a building, structure, or use of land subject to a building permit required by Article 11 from being occupied or used until a certificate of occupancy or temporary certificate has been issued.

Amends language in GS 160D-4-4 to clarify the process for providing notice of violations.

Amends language in GS 160D-4-6 to require the administrator or staff to the board to give the board all applications, reports, and written materials relevant to the quasi-judicial matter being considered. Allows the materials to be presented at the hearing or distributed to the members of the board prior to the hearing. Requires a copy of the administrative materials to be given to the appellant or applicant and to the landowner if that person is not the appellant or applicant at the same time it is submitted to the board. Requires that the administrative materials become a part of the hearing record. Specifies that the applicant, the local government, and any person who would have standing to appeal the decision under GS 160D-14-2(d) have the right to present evidence and participate as a party at the evidentiary hearing. Allows objections regarding jurisdictional issues to be made to the board.

Article 5.

Enacts new GS 160D-5-1 requiring, as a condition of adopting and applying zoning regulations under this Chapter, a local government to adopt and reasonably maintain a comprehensive plan that sets forth goals, policies, and programs intended to guide the present and future physical, social, and economic development. Sets out the process for adopting the plan, including opportunities for citizen engagement in plan preparation and adoption. Specifies issues that may be addressed in the plan. Requires that plans be adopted by the governing board with the advice and consultation of the planning board. Specifies that the plans are advisory in nature and do not have independent regulatory effect.

Article 6.

Amends language in GS 160D-6-3 to clarify who can sign a protest petition for proposed zoning map amendments and clarifies when a protest petition must be filed with the city clerk.

Amends language in GS 160D-6-4 to allow a planning board to review matters other than zoning amendments.  Makes additional clarifying language.

Amends language in GS 160D-6-5 to require the governing board, when adopting or rejecting any petition for a zoning map amendment, to approve a statement analyzing the reasonableness of the proposed amendment. Specifies issues that may be considered in the statement of reasonableness. Provides that if a zoning map amendment qualifies as a “large-scale rezoning,” the governing board statement on reasonableness may address the overall rezoning. Makes additional clarifying changes.

Article 7.

Amends language in GS 160D-7.2 to clarify that a zoning regulation may also regulate and restrict the buffers, landscaping, parking, and signage.  Clarifies that a local government may regulate floating homes over estuarine waters and over lands covered by navigable waters. Provides that, where appropriate and consistent with the limitations of GS 160D-8-4(c), a zoning regulation may include requirements that street and utility rights-of-way be dedicated to the public, that provision be made of recreational space and facilities, and that  performance guarantees be provided.

Amends the language in GS 160D-7-3 by eliminating the use of concurrent legislative rezoning and quasi-judicial conditional use permits. Allows legislative conditional zoning and quasi-judicial special use permits, but does not provide for such as a single process. Allows zoning districts to include form-based districts, or development form controls, which address the physical form, mass, and density of structures, public spaces, and streetscapes. Allows defined minor modifications in conditional district standards that do not involve a change in uses permitted or the density of overall development permitted to be reviewed and approved administratively. Provides that if multiple parcels of land are subject to a conditional zoning, the owners of individual parcels may apply for modification of the conditions so long as the modification would not result in other properties failing to meet the terms of the conditions.  Any modifications approved are only applicable to those properties whose owners petition for the modification. Allows a zoning regulation or unified development ordinance to also include development standards that apply uniformly jurisdiction-wide rather than being applicable only in particular zoning districts.

Amends GS 160D-7-4 to allow the use of density bonuses and incentives for affordable housing statewide.

Amends GS 160D-7-5 to allow defined minor modifications to special use permits that do not involve a change in uses permitted or the density of overall development permitted to be reviewed and approved administratively; requires any other modification or revocation of a special use permit to follow the same process for approval as is applicable to the approval of a special use permit.  Provides that if multiple parcels of land are subject to a special use permit, the owners of individual parcels may apply for permit modification so long as the modification would not result in other properties failing to meet the terms of the special use permit or regulations.  Any modifications approved are only applicable to those properties whose owners apply for the modification.

Article 8.

Amends GS 160D-8-4 to provide that the nature and extent of impact mitigation required by a development regulation must be rationally related to and no greater than an amount roughly proportional to the impacts reasonably expected to be generated by the proposed development. Specifies that only those impact mitigation measures expressly authorized by law may be required. Provides that when a dedication of land or construction of facilities is expressly authorized by this statute, a regulation may allow for substitution of a payment in lieu of the dedication or construction. Provides that if a method of calculating the fee is not provided by this statute, the fee required must be no more than an amount generally equivalent to the cost of the dedication or construction that would otherwise be required. Prohibits, unless expressly authorized by law, a local government from imposing a school impact fee as an impact mitigation measure.

Article 9.

Amends language in GS 160D-9-3 to clarify the regulation of agricultural activity by municipalities.

Enacts GS 160D-9-9 to provide that development regulations adopted under this Chapter may impose construction and design standards for modular homes that are consistent with GS 143-139.1.

Amends GS 160D-9-14 to allow local governments to establish street setback and driveway connection regulations as a part of ordinances adopted under this Chapter or pursuant to GS 160A-306 and GS 160A-307.

Amends GS 160D-9-47 to provide that other than administrative decisions on minor works, decisions on certificates of appropriateness in historic districts are quasi-judicial and must follow the procedures of GS 160D-4-6.

Amends GS 160D-9-50, demolition by neglect to contributing structures outside local historic districts, to make the statute applicable statewide.

Article 10.

Amends GS 160D-10-3 to allow concurrent rezoning and development agreements.

Amends GS 160D-10-4 to no longer limit the term of development agreements to 20 years. Allows a local government to enter into a development agreement with a developer for developable property of any size if the property that would be subject to the development agreement is (1) subject to an executed brownfields agreement or (2) within or adjacent to a central business district and the governing board determines the development would have a substantial effect on the character or function of the central business district.

Amends GS 160D-10-6 to amend and remove items from the list of things that must be included in development agreements. Allows a development agreement to include mutually acceptable terms regarding provision of public facilities and other amenities and the allocation of financial responsibility for their provision, provided any impact mitigation measures offered by the developer beyond those that could be required by the local government are expressly enumerated within the agreement, and provided the agreement may not include a tax or impact fee not otherwise authorized by law.

Amends GS 160D-10-8 to no longer require that periodic compliance review of agreements happen at least every 12 months. Provides that a development agreement is be enforceable by any party to the agreement notwithstanding any changes in the development regulations made subsequent to the effective date of the development agreement.  Also allows any party to the agreement to file an action for injunctive relief to enforce the terms of a development agreement.

Amends GS 160D-10-11 to prohibit the issuance of development approvals until the development agreement has been recorded with the register of deeds.

Article 11.

Amends GS 160D-11-11 to no longer specify that a probationary inspector’s certificate is valid for one year.

Amends GS 160D-11-17, Unsafe buildings condemned, to provide uniform provisions for public hearings and notice for all legislative decisions.

Makes clarifying changes, deletes outdated provisions, and makes language gender-neutral.

Article 12.

Amends GS 160D-12-3 to make the provisions concerning abandonment of intent to repair applicable statewide instead of being dependent on population.

Article 13.

Provides that the same community development programs apply to cities and counties.

Article 14.

Makes clarifying changes in GS 160D-14-2, concerning the appeals of quasi-judicial decisions of decision-making boards when those appeals are in the nature of certiorari as required by this Chapter.

Enacts new GS 160D-14-4 to provide that except as expressly stated, this Article does not limit the availability to any party of civil actions otherwise authorized by law or alter the times in which they may be brought. 

Amends GS 160D-14-5 to specify a time period to challenge a development agreement.

Other Provisions.

Makes conforming changes to statutes in GS Chapter 1, 63, 143, 130A, 113A, 153A, and 160A.

Includes a severability clause.

Provides that any local government development regulation validly adopted before July 1, 2016, under authority of the General Statutes revised and reenacted in this Chapter, charter, or local act is not invalid based on inconsistency with this Act. Also provides that any otherwise valid permit or development approval made before July 1, 2016, is not invalid based on inconsistency with the provisions of this Act. The validity of any plan adopted prior to July 1, 2016, is not affected by a failure to comply the procedural requirements of GS 160D-5-1(b). 

Requires any special use district or conditional use district zoning district that is valid and in effect as of July 1, 2016, be deemed a conditional zoning district consistent with the terms of this Act, and the special or conditional use permits issued concurrently with establishment of those districts must be valid as specified in Section 8.1.  Deems any valid “conditional use permit” issued prior to July 1, 2016, a “special use permit” consistent with the provisions of this Act. 

Requires any local government that has adopted zoning regulations but that has not adopted a comprehensive plan to adopt such a plan no later than December 31, 2017, in order to retain the authority to adopt and apply zoning regulations.

Effective July 1, 2016, and applies to local government development regulation decisions made on or after that date.  

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