Bill Summary for H 44 (2015-2016)

Summary date: 

Sep 15 2015

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
House Bill 44 (Public) Filed Tuesday, February 3, 2015
AN ACT TO REFORM VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF THE LAW RELATED TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
Intro. by Conrad, Lambeth, Hanes, Terry.

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Bill summary

Conference report makes the following changes to the 3rd edition.

Section 2 recodifies proposed GS 153A-145.3 as GS 153A-145.6 and establishes new catchlines for GS 153A-145.6 (counties) and GS 160A-205.1(municipalities). Further amends both proposed sections to provide that cities and counties are prohibited from requiring compliance with a state department or agency's voluntary regulation or rule as well specified rules from the Environment Management Commission that have been delayed by the General Assembly (previously, did not include rules delayed by the General Assembly).  Specifies that the statutes apply to regulations and rules (1) currently in effect, (2) repealed or expired, (3) temporarily or permanently held in abeyance, or (4) those adopted but not yet effective (previously, applied to those enacted but not yet effective). Adds language providing that the above provisions do not apply to water usage restrictions during extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

Section 3 deletes proposed changes made to GS 160A-360.1 which provided three options for applying ordinances that the owner of a development tract may choose from when an ordinance under GS Chapter 160A, Article 19, Planning and Regulation of Development, applied to a development tract lying partly within municipal corporate limits and partly within the county and more than 50% of the tract is outside of the municipal corporate limits.

Adds a new section amending GS 160A-365, enforcement of ordinances, to require cities and property owners to certify that any enforcement or application of a city ordinance concerning development regulation outside the territorial jurisdiction of a city is not being done under coercion or on the basis or representation that the city would not approve of specified land use planning from the property owner if the city ordinance was not enforced outside the territorial jurisdiction of the city. 

Section 3.5 makes clarifying changes to GS 87-97(e) providing that the issuance of a determination on whether or not a proposed drinking water well can be constructed or repaired must be issued within 30 days of receipt of an application for such, must be made in accordance with GS 87-97.1 and GS 87-97.2. 

Deletes proposed GS 87-97(m) which required the local health department, after receiving an application for a construction permit for a new private drinking water well, and before issuing the permit, to determine if the property is within a jurisdictional area served by a public water system and take one of three specified actions.

Enacts new GS 87-97.1, issuance of permit for irrigation water well, providing that a property owner can apply for and be issued a permit for an irrigation water well whether or not the property is connected to, or served by, a public water system. Specifies certain requirements for such an application and defines irrigation water well.

Enacts new GS 87-97.2, issuance of permit for property within service area of a public water system, allowing property owners to apply for and be issued permits for private drinking water wells if (1) the well will serve undeveloped or unimproved property located on property that is served by a public water system or (2) if the public water system has not installed water lines directly to the property or at this time cannot provide water services at the time the owner desires water service. Provides that permitted property owners cannot be required to connect to public water systems as long as the permitted well is in compliance and in use. Specifies when a private drinking well can remain in operation after connection to a public water system. Also sets out when public water systems can mandate connection, including when a private drinking well has failed and cannot be repaired, the well is contaminated or likely to be contaminated, and when the public authority operating the public system is undergoing refinancing with the help of the Local Government Commission. Effective January 1, 2016, applying to completed applications submitted on or after that date. 

Amends GS 153A-284 (counties) and GS 160A-317 (municipalities) to provide that when developed property is located where it can be served by city or county water lines, and the property owner has connected to that water line, any private water wells can continue to be used for nonpotable purposes so long as the well is not interconnected to the city or county water line. Prohibits cities or counties from requiring property owners to abandon, cap or otherwise compromise the integrity of the well.

Amends GS 130A-55(16)a (concerning local sanitary district boards), GS 162A-6(a)(14d) and GS 162A-14(2)d (both concerning water and sewer authorities) adding provisions which provide that property owners of developed property that have private water wells but have connected to water lines can continue to use the private water well for nonpotable purposes, as long as it is not interconnected to the authority's water line. Also prohibits authorities from requiring property owners to abandon, cap or otherwise compromise the integrity of the well.  

Effective when the act becomes law, directs the Local Government Commission to study the impacts of GS 87-97.2, issuance of permit for property within service area of a public water system, specifically concerning whether any conforming changes must be made for the financial stability of public water systems. The results of the study are to be reported to the General Assembly on or after April 15, 2016.

Enacts GS 87-98.14, Reciprocity, allowing well contractors licensed or certified in other states, that present valid proof of such licensure or certification, to sit for examination for the same or equivalent in NC without delay. Requires the furnishing of satisfactory proof that the qualifications of such applicants are equal to those similarly licensed or certified in NC.

Unless otherwise indicated, Section 3.5 is effective October 1, 2015, applying to permits issued on or after that date.

Section 4 makes organizational changes to the proposed changes for GS 153A-340 and GS 160A-381, concerning fence wraps that display signage. Provides that such fence wrap on perimeter fences at a construction site are exempt from the specified zoning regulations pertaining to signage until a certificate of occupancy is issued for the final portion of construction at that site or until 24 months (was, 36 months) from the time the fence wrap was installed, whichever is shorter. Also provides that if construction has not been completed at that sight after 24 months (was, 36 months), then cities or counties can regulate such signage but must continue to allow fence wrapping materials on the perimeter fencing. 

Section 6 makes the following changes.

Makes technical corrections.

Amends GS 115C-441 (concerning obligations incurred by a local school administrative unit) by adding that nothing in the statute requires a contract to be in writing.  Makes conforming and clarifying changes. Requires the procedures established by the finance officer to assure compliance with the statute, and with the provisions of the statute concerning disbursements, to be in accordance with rules adopted by the Local Government Commission. Expands the methods by which a local school administrative unit may pay a bill, invoice, salary, or other claim, to add (1) electronic payment or an electronic funds transfer originated by the local school administrative unity through an official depository, and (2) cash, if the local school administrative unit has adopted a policy authorizing the use of cash, and specifying the limits of the use of cash. Makes related conforming and technical changes.  Adds a provision making an electronic payment or electronic funds transfer subject to the preaudit process according to the statute and any rules adopted by the Local Government Commission. Sets out three exemptions to the certifications required for preaudits and disbursements made by check or draft on an official depository.  Defines the terms electronic funds transfer and electronic payment. Makes additional clarifying and technical changes, including making language gender neutral.

Changes the effective date of all of Section 6 from July 1, 2015, to October 1, 2015.

Section 7 deletes the proposed amendments to GS 136-66.1, pertaining to reduction of lanes, and replaces it with an amendment to the North Carolina Unclaimed Property Act. Amends GS 116B-72 to include new subsection (g) allowing the Treasurer of the State of North Carolina to utilize reliable external data, including electronic databases, when examining records of a person to determine compliance with the act.

Section 8 amends proposed GS 106-645, preventing counties and cities from adopting ordinances prohibiting a person or entity from owning five or fewer beehives. The conference report adds that cities may adopt an ordinance permitting up to five hives so long as the ordinance regulates certain specified placement, setback, height, and removal conditions. Adds a definition of “hive.”

Section 10 makes technical changes and changes amended GS 130A-248(e) pertaining to prototype franchise plans for food establishments. Once the state Department of Health and Human Services approves a plan, a local health department’s suggested revisions need not necessarily come at the request of the franchise owner or operator. The conference report allows a local health department to impose its suggestions with written approval from the department.

Section 12 amends proposed GS 153A-147 and GS 160A-499.4 to require a county or city to notify property owners 15 days (was, 30 days) prior to commencement of a construction project and creates a new exception from the requirement when notice is given in any open meeting.

Section 13 replaces the 3rd edition’s riparian buffer reform with the following. Repeals GS 143-214.23 (e1) and replaces it with GS 143-214.23A. The proposed statute prohibits a local government from enacting an ordinance that establishes a riparian buffer requirement that exceeds requirements necessary to comply with a federal or state law or agency. The proposed statute includes an exception for certain local ordinances enacted prior to August 1, 1997, and creates a process by which a local government may request from the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission an exception allowing it to enact an ordinance to protect water quality. Proposed GS 143-214.23A clarifies that private property owners may use buffer land to satisfy development-related regulatory requirements including density and intensity calculations, tree conservation purposes, open space or conservation requirements, and perimeter buffers. Requires that the riparian buffer area be shown on the recorded plat when riparian buffer requirements are included within a lot. The proposed statute provides that the Environmental Management Commission may adopt rules to enforce the new section.

Allows a local government ordinance that establishes a riparian buffer requirement for the protection of water quality that exceeds riparian buffer requirements that are necessary to comply with or implement federal or State law or a condition of a permit, certificate, or other approval issued by a federal or State agency that is in effect on October 1, 2015, to remain in effect and enforceable until January 1, 2017. Provides that if the local government ordinance is authorized by the Environmental Management Commission under new GS 143-214.23A(d) on or before January 1, 2017, the ordinance may continue to be in effect and enforceable, but if the local government ordinance is not authorized on or before that date, the ordinance shall no longer be in effect or enforceable.

Requires the Environmental Management Commission, with the assistance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to study ways to provide regulatory relief from the impacts of riparian buffer rules adopted to implement the State's Riparian Buffer Protection Program for parcels of land that were platted on or before the effective date of the applicable riparian buffer rule, including examining ways to fairly provide properties with relief where a change in use has occurred that would otherwise trigger the requirements of the riparian buffer rules. Requires a report on the study results to the Environmental Review Commission by April 1, 2016.

Provides that for purposes of implementing 15A NCAC 02B .0233 (Neuse River Basin: Nutrient Sensitive Waters Management Strategy: Protection and Maintenance of Existing Riparian Buffers) and 15A NCAC 02B .0259 (Tar-Pamlico River Basin: Nutrient Sensitive Waters Management Strategy: Protection and Maintenance of Existing Riparian Buffers), Zone 1 of a protective riparian buffer for coastal wetlands begins at the most landward limit of the normal high water level or the normal water level, as appropriate.  Defines coastal wetlands as any salt marsh or other marsh subject to regular or occasional flooding by tides whether or not the tidewaters reach the marshland areas through natural or artificial watercourses, provided this shall not include hurricane or tropical storm tides.  Requires the Environmental Management Commission to adopt temporary rules to amend its rules consistent with these provisions.

Requires the Environmental Management Commission to amend its rules for the protection of existing riparian buffers to provide for the case-by-case modification of the requirement for maintaining woody vegetation in the riparian buffer area upon a showing by a landowner that alternative measures will provide equal or greater water quality protection. Requires the Environmental Management Commission shall adopt temporary rules to amend its rules consistent with these provisions.

Effective October 1, 2015.

Deletes proposed Section 17 concerning inspections of components or elements of buildings certified by licensed architects or licensed engineers.

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