Bill Summary for S 372 (2021)

Summary date: 

Jun 2 2022

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
Senate Bill 372 (Public) Filed Monday, March 29, 2021
AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES TO ELECTRICAL CONTRACTING LICENSES, WASTEWATER, SEDIMENTATION, AND BUILDING CODE LAWS.
Intro. by McInnis, Jarvis, Galey.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute amends the 1st edition as follows.

Section 1

Changes the effective date of the proposed changes to GS 87-43.3, adding restrictions and requirements to the electrical contracting licensing classifications, from October 1, 2021, to October 1, 2022. Adds a heading to the Section.

Adds the following new content. 

Section 2

Delays the effective date of 15 NCAC 18E .0101 through .1713, which govern wastewater treatment and dispersal from wastewater systems, adopted by the Public Health Commission and approved by the Rules Review Commission in 2021, until January 1, 2024.

Provides for 15A NCAC 18A .1934 through .1971, which also govern wastewater treatment and dispersal from wastewater systems and were repealed effective October 1, 2021, to remain in effect until January 1, 2024, and exempts the rules from statutorily required periodic review and expiration. 

Section 3

Revises Section 8.26 of the 2021 Appropriations Act, SL 2021-180, which allocates funds to the UNC Board of Governors to be provided to the NC Policy Collaboratory for the Innovative Highly Treated Wastewater Pilot Program, to cap project funding from allocated funds at $4 million (was, the lesser of 40% of the total project cost or $4 million). Amends the required actions of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) with respect to the review and qualification of wastewater systems producing highly treated wastewater for eligible participating local governments, sanitary districts, or public authorities, to more specifically direct DEQ to require the manufacturer of the wastewater system within five days of the issuance of the permit to construct for a wastewater system qualified (was, within five days of qualification) to file a surety of at least a five-year term to be executed for the permittee in an amount sufficient to cover system replacement. Makes additional clarifying changes.

Section 4

Changes the sunset provided in Section 3.19, SL 2020-97, which grants authority to licensed soil scientists, at the direction of the owner of a proposed on‑site wastewater system, to prepare signed and sealed soil and site evaluations, specifications, plans, and reports for the site layout, construction, operation, and maintenance of a wastewater system without also obtaining further certification from the North Carolina On‑Site Wastewater Contractors and Inspectors Board (Board), and conduct all necessary inspections, certifications, and approvals, including the issuance of the final inspection and report certifying that the system has been installed according to the approved plans and specifications for the construction, installation, and operation of a proposed wastewater system. Sets the provisions to expire on January 1, 2023 (was, 90 days after Executive Order No. 116, which declares a state of emergency to prevent the spread of COVID-19, is rescinded). Adds that the expiration does not prevent a licensed soil scientist acting under the temporary authority from completing a wastewater system already under construction (was, completing a proposed wastewater system begun before the section expires). 

Section 5

Makes the following changes to GS 130A-335. Requires evaluations of soil conditions and site features by a licensed soil scientist or a licensed geologist to be used in developing design and construction features for a new proposed wastewater system or a proposed repair project for an existing wastewater system, and approved by the applicable permitting authorities under GS 130A-226, so long as the evaluation satisfies the requirements of Article 11 (governing wastewater systems) and remains within the scope of the licensee's license, and the licensee conducting the evaluation maintains the appropriate liability insurance. Includes using the evaluations in addressing special hydrologic conditions that might be required under the applicable rules for an improvement permit or a construction authorization (was, the applicable rules for an authorization to construct or for permitting).

Establishes the following distinct provisions relating to applicants for an improvement permit versus a construction authorization. For improvement permit applications submitted with a soil evaluation by a licensed soil scientist or licensed geologist, requires the local health department to issue, deny, or request additional information of the applicant within 10 business days. Requires provision of a signed, written report that cites applicable rules for denials. Requires issuance of such an improvement permit if the local health department fails to act on a complete application within the required timeframe. Establishes the same required actions of a local health department within the same time frame for construction authorization applications submitted with required signed and sealed plans or evaluations conducted by a licensed engineer or certified Authorized On-Site Wastewater Evaluator, with an identical provision requiring the local health department to issue the construction authorization if the local health department fails to act on a complete application within the 10-business day timeframe. 

Requires the local health department to conduct a pre-construction conference with the wastewater system contractor and other representatives of the site of construction as necessary at the proposed wastewater site no more than 10 business days prior to the start of the installation of the on-site wastewater system to determine that the conditions of the site have not been altered. Allows the pre-construction conference to be conducted by a licensed engineer or certified Authorized On-Site Wastewater Evaluator, with their findings required to be accepted by the local health department. Requires the applicant or the system contractor certified under rules established by the Board to notify the local health department of completion of the wastewater system for the inspection and issuance of the operation permit under GS 130A-337 after determination of compliance with the construction authorization. 

Replaces the statute's immunity provisions as follows. Discharges and releases from liability the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), DHHS agents, and the local health department for any liabilities arising out of or attributed to submittals or actions from a licensed soil scientist or licensed geologist, or licensed engineer or certified Authorized On-Site Wastewater Evaluator, under the relevant subsections of the statute. Establishes DHHS, DHHS agents, and the local health department are liable for their actions and evaluations, and other obligations under State law or rule, including the issuance of operations permits under GS 130A-337.

Makes changes to the following statutes to refer to "construction authorization" rather than "authorization for wastewater system construction" and distinguish construction authorization from an improvement permit: GS 130A-335, GS 130A-336, GS 130A-338, and GS 130A-339.

Amends GS 130A-336 to require site evaluations for areas not served by an approved wastewater system by the local health department, a licensed soil scientist or licensed geologist, or licensed engineer or certified Authorized On-Site Wastewater Evaluator, to comply with the conditions of the authorized on-site wastewater evaluator permit option under GS 130A-336.2, as an alternative to compliance with the engineered option permit under GS 130A-336.1. Makes conforming changes throughout to include references to the conditions of the authorized on-site wastewater evaluator permit option under GS 130A-336.2 where references to the engineered option permit under GS 130A-336.1 appear. Adds a new provision requiring the certified wastewater system contractor to schedule and conduct a pre-construction conference with the local health department at the proposed wastewater site no more than 10 business days prior to the start of the installation of the on-site wastewater system to determine that the conditions of the site have not been altered and that the proposed system can be installed as permitted. 

Amends the required content of the common form, set out in GS 130A-336.1, that the owner of a proposed wastewater system or their authorized professional engineer must submit to the local health department of the intent to construct a wastewater system using the engineered permit option, to include either the plat or site plan, as defined by statutory cross-references (currently, only requires inclusion of a plat).

Amends GS 130A-336.2 to no longer require inclusion of local health department representatives in the post-construction conference of nonengineered wastewater systems approved and constructed on the statute.

Amends GS 130A-338, which requires issuance of a construction authorization under GS 130A-366, authorization under GS 130A-337(c), or a decision of completeness of the notice of intent to construct is made by the local health department under GS 130A-336.1(c), before any other permits on the location or relocation activity can be issued. Adds a decision on the completeness of the notice of intent to construct a nonengineered system made by the local health department under GS 130A-336.2(c) as an alternative approval that can be obtained prior to the issuance of other permits. 

Section 6

Enacts a new subsection to GS 87-97 to prohibit a local health department from conducting a grout inspection during the construction, repair, or abandonment of a private drinking water well if four conditions are met, including that (1) the well contractor provides written or electronic notice of intent to grout to the local health department within the stated requirements and (2) the well contractor provides written certification, in a format and method specified by the Environmental Management Commission, to the local health department that the private drinking water well has been grouted in compliance with rules adopted pursuant to the NC Well Construction Act (Article 7). Allows the local health department to opt to be present during the grouting upon receipt of the intent to grout, and specifies that failure to do so does not affect the authority of the well contractor to self-certify the grouting under the authority enacted. Specifies that when local variances requiring grouting of a private drinking water well to a certain depth, the well contractor must schedule a grout time and inspection with the local health department and only the local health department can certify that the private drinking water well was grouted in compliance with Article 7. Applies to inspections conducted on or after October 1, 2022.

Section 7

Directs DEQ to study the requirements of the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of 1973 and federal requirements applicable to stormwater discharges from construction activities under 40 CFR 122.26, and identify all requirements of the Act that are more stringent than or redundant to federal requirements applicable to stormwater discharges from construction activities under 40 CFR 122.26. Details requirements regarding identification of specific federal requirements. Requires DEQ to report to the Environmental Review Commission by September 1, 2022. 

Section 8

Amends GS 143-140.1, requiring the Building Code Council to promulgate rules, procedures, and policies for the approval of alternative designs and construction by January 1, 2023. Changes the statute's title. Provides that approved alternative designs and construction that are in effect at the time of the effective date of the act remain in effect.

Section 9

Amends GS 160D-1102 to require every local government to designate a person responsible for the daily oversight of the local government's inspection duties and responsibilities set forth in GS 160D-1104. Establishes reporting requirements, requiring local governments to publish an annual financial report on how they used inspection fees from the prior fiscal year for the support, administration, and implementation of their building code enforcement program as required by GS 160D-402(d), with published reports required for 2023, 2024, and 2025. Applies to financial reports due on or after October 1, 2022. 

Section 10

Amends GS 160D-1105 to allow a permit holder who  has been informed by a local inspection department that an inspection required under the Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings has not been, or will not be, conducted within two business days after first requested, to obtain that required inspection from a licensed architect or licensed professional engineer after giving written or electronic notice to the local government. Requires a licensed architect or licensed professional engineer conducting an inspection under the statute to provide the local government with a signed inspection report by electronic or physical delivery, with receipt required to be promptly acknowledged by the local government through reciprocal means, and requires the local government to accept and approve such inspections. Provides required content for the inspection report and provides for the reinspection of corrections made by the local government only. Discharges and releases the local government, its inspection department, and the inspectors from any liabilities, duties, and responsibilities imposed by Article 11 with respect to or in common law from any claim arising out of or attributed to that required inspection.

Amends GS 160D-1109, which makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for an inspection department member to willfully fail to perform their duties, improperly issue a building permit, give a certificate of compliance without making required inspections, or improperly give a certificate of compliance. Releases such employees if the local government, its inspections department, or one of its inspectors accepted a signed written document documenting compliance from a licensed architect or licensed engineer under GS 160D-1105 or GS 160D-1106, each of which provide alternative arrangements for inspections (was, under GS 160D-1104(d), which provides for inspections by local government inspectors). Applies to inspections conducted on or after October 1, 2022. 

Section 11

Amends GS 160D-702(c) to prohibit a zoning or other development regulation from (1) setting a minimum square footage of any structures subject to regulation under the Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings or (2) setting a maximum parking space size larger than nine feet wide by twenty feet long unless the parking space is designated for handicap, parallel, or diagonal parking (previously, prohibition was limited to zoning regulations setting a minimum square footage of any structures subject to regulation under the Residential Code). Effective October 1, 2022. Provides that after that date any zoning or other development regulation inconsistent with GS 160D-702(c), as enacted, is void and unenforceable.

Section 12

Amends the definition of home inspection in GS 143-151.45, as applicable to Article 9F of the Chapter, which governs the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board. Specifies that the term means written evaluations of listed components of a residential building based on observation or noninvasive testing, defined as testing methods which do not result in any damage to a component or system, such as tearing, puncturing, or gouging; permits probing a wood component or system to inspect for deterioration.

Amends GS 143-151.58 to require a licensed home inspection to give the person for whom the inspector performed an inspection for compensation the report, absent a set date in a written agreement, within three business days after the inspection, or within ten business days after the inspection if the report describes State Residential Building Code deficiencies (previously, did not provide an extension beyond the three business days). Revises subsection (a2) to consistently refer to the State Residential Building Code throughout. Applies to inspections conducted on or after October 1, 2022. 

Section 13

Increases the thresholds for projects certain licensees are entitled to act as a general contractor for under GS 87-10, allowing the holder of an intermediate license to act as general contractor for any single project with a value of up to $1.5 million (was, $1 million), and the holder of a limited license to act as general contractor for any single project with a value of up to $750,000 (was, $500,000), excluding the cost of land and any ancillary costs to improve the land.

Section 14

Amends Section 6 of SL 2021-121, which directs the Building Code Council (Council) to implement Section D107 of the 2018 NC Fire Code and other provisions related to fire apparatus access roads for one- and two-family dwelling residential developments as specified by the Section. Changes the implementing directive to now instruct the Council to not require two or more separate and approved fire apparatus access roads in developments of one- or two-family dwellings where there are fewer than 100 dwelling units (previously, instructed the Council and Code enforcement official to not require an automatic sprinkler system in one- or two-family dwellings where there are fewer than 100 dwelling units on a single public or private fire apparatus access road with access from one direction). Maintains the requirements for the Council to adopt amendments consistent with this directive, as amended.

Section 15

Enacts GS 143-139.4(l), requiring the Commissioner of Insurance to contract with any individual, corporation, or other business entity that holds one of the applicable certificates as provided in GS 143-151.13 (including those of building inspectors, electrical inspectors, mechanical inspectors, plumbing inspectors, fire inspectors, and residential changeout inspectors) to conduct building inspections requested by permit holders who have been informed by a local inspection department that any inspection has not been, or will not be, conducted within two business days after first requested. Applies to inspections conducted on or after October 1, 2022. 

Section 16

Updates statutory cross-references in GS 143-139 to refer to specified statutes in GS Chapter 160D, rather than GS Chapter 153A and 160A. Eliminates statutory cross-references to GS Chapters 153A and 160A in GS 143-139.4(k)(2), defining local inspection department

Section 17

Amends Section 40.17, SL 2021-180, as enacted by Section 9.1(d) of SL 2021-189, and amended in Section 18.1 of SL 2022-6, changing the grants and funds allocated from the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund as follows. Directs that the $8 million for Anson County for economic development of county facilities instead be provided to Anson Economic Development Corporation to be used for economic development purposes, including facilities.

Section 18

Applicable to permit applications filed and appeals filed before, on, and after the effective date of the act, amends GS 160D-706, which states governing law in instances of conflict between zoning regulations and statute or local ordinance or regulation. Currently, specifies that governing law is subject to GS 160A-174(b), which requires city ordinances to be consistent with the Constitution and laws of North Carolina and of the United States and enumerates six instances in which an ordinance is deemed inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of North Carolina and the United States. Replaces that clause, now providing that governing law is subject to GS 160A-704(b), and no longer specifying that that statute only limits the authority of cities (appears to intend restatement of GS 160A-174(b), and eliminating the reference to its limited application to cities). States legislative intent for the provisions to clarify and restate the intent of existing law. 

Makes technical and clarifying changes.

Makes conforming changes to the act's titles.

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