Charlotte Proposes Revising Tree Ordinance Requirements for Urban Sites

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Charlotte’s planning staff is working on a proposal to amend the City’s Tree Ordinance in an attempt to make it easier for urban infill sites to comply. The draft proposal, created through a stakeholder process that included representatives from REBIC, neighborhood groups and environmental advocates, would provide for better integration of trees into small residential and commercial projects, potentially minimizing the need for offsite mitigation. The proposal does not reduce the total amount of trees required on a site, however.

Some of the proposed changes include:

  • An option to create an Amenitized Tree Area that can help meet the tree save requirement though an impervious, passive use space.
  • The ability to plant trees in alternative locations, such as on rooftops, in planters and plazas, and over parking decks.
  • Reduced spacing for street tree planting, when necessitated by site conditions.
  • Alternative location options for trees required for parking spaces in urban townhome projects.

The changes would apply only to urban zoning districts (UMUDD, MUDD, TOD, UR, NS, PED and TS), along with any project with ground-floor nonresidential uses. The proposed changes are expected to go to City Council for consideration in September.

REBIC supports the proposed Tree Ordinance amendments as a good first step toward providing greater options for tree preservation and replanting in an urban environment. We will continue to work with staff in the weeks ahead to better refine the language in the proposal, and advocate for its passage by Council this fall.

You can download the draft amendment here.

 

General Assembly Advances Legislation to Clarify Taxation of Property Management Contracts

legislative_building_5The North Carolina General Assembly today advanced legislation supported by REBIC, the North Carolina Association of Realtors® (NCR) and other industry trade groups that would clarify that residential and commercial Property Management agreements are largely not subject to the state’s Repair, Maintenance & Installation (RMI) sales tax.

SB 523 — Revenue Laws Clarifying & Administrative Changes, was given a favorable report this morning by the Senate Finance committee, with an amendment that requires Property Management companies to charge and remit RMI sales tax only in the following circumstances:

  1. They provide repair, maintenance, installation services for an additional charge above what is stated in the management contract.
  2. They arrange for a third party to provide the repair, maintenance, and installation services and impose an additional charge for arranging these services.
  3. More than twenty-five percent (25%) of the time spent managing an individual real property during a billing or invoice period is attributable to taxable repair, maintenance, and installation services. The property manager can voluntarily provide a written affidavit to attest that no more than 25% of their services on a given property constitute taxable RMI services, which would clear them of liability for taxation on any portion of the contract amount.

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Home Builders visit Capitol Hill to Advocate for Housing Affordability

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This past Wednesday, home builders from Charlotte and across North Carolina traveled to Washington to meet with our Congressional delegation and discuss issues facing the industry — from labor shortages to trade policy and housing finance reform.  

The entire group was lucky enough to meet with Senators Burr and Tillis on the steps of the Capitol building in between votes. We discussed briefly the nationwide affordable housing crisis and how the Senate can act to address the labor shortage through the creation of a market-based guest worker program for the construction sector and by providing a path toward permanent resident status for DACA-eligible individuals.

Members of the HBA of Greater Charlotte was able to meet with Congressman Patrick McHenry, ranking member of the Financial Services Committee. They were able to discuss the state of politics right now in the Capitol and how to navigate those realities to address immigration, flood insurance, and trade policy. Homebuilders urged Rep. McHenry to encourage the administration to end the tariffs on imports of softwood lumber, steel and aluminum that are hurting the industry.

Finally, builders met with Congressman Richard Hudson to cover these same issues, including housing finance reform for conventional mortgages and strengthening the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).

Thanks to all those builders who took time from their schedules to travel to Capitol Hill this week and advocate for the housing industry!

 

Cabarrus County Proposes Massive Zoning Fee Increases

On Monday, June 3, 2019, proposed planning and zoning fee changes were presented to the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners, based on a recent study evaluating the potential to move to a full cost-recovery model. Along with changes in the cost of permit fees, staff is proposing changing new construction permits to a single permit (blanket permits). Cabarrus County Seal

On Wednesday, June 19, Cabarrus County Planning staff is inviting builders to come to an open session from 1-3 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Cabarrus County Governmental Center.  During this session staff will discuss why these fees are being proposed, give examples of how fees are charged now, and what the fees would be if adopted as proposed.  Staff will be able to answer any questions and hear any feedback that you have. 

 

Cabarrus County Development Fee Meeting

Wednesday, June 19

1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Cabarrus County Government Resource Center – Multipurpose Room

65 Church Street S.

Concord, NC 28025

*It is very important that we have a strong showing at this meeting with staff*

 

Here is the link to the presentation to the Board of Commissioners. 

The proposed fee schedule can be found at this link.

 

Home Builders Visit Raleigh To Educate Lawmakers On Legislative Priorities

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The Home Builders Association of Greater Charlotte (HBAGC) joined colleagues from across the state in Raleigh this week to advocate for issues impacting the industry. In particular, home builder members spoke with NC House members about supporting the Continuing Education for General Contractors legislation (SB 55), which will require eight hours of continuing education annually for license renewal.

Meeting with Gaston County Representatives Dana Bumgardner and John Torbett, builders discussed SB 355 — Land Use Regulatory Changes, which would providing better protections to landowners and their property rights.

 

Members also met with Mecklenburg Representatives Chaz Beasley and Christy Clark who were interested in the industry’s efforts to make housing more affordable, including SB 313 — Performance Guarantee to Streamline Affordable Housing. The bill would maintain that the duration of a performance guarantee is only for one year, unless the developer determines that the scope of work for the required improvements necessitates a longer duration and an objective standard is set for its release.

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Finally, members had a very productive discussion with Senator Jeff Jackson of Mecklenburg County about how the industry and the state can work together to ensure housing affordability. In addition, there was discussion surrounding HB 675 — Building Code Regulatory Reform Act of 2019, which is the industry’s annual legislation that addresses a wide range of issues which builders have faced during development and construction phases.

Thanks to all the HBA members who took time out of their busy schedules to make the trip to Raleigh!

REBIC Raises Objection to Proposed Noise Ordinance Amendments

Construction CraneAt a recent meeting with City staff and representatives from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), representatives from REBIC, NAIOP Charlotte and AGC Carolinas raised objections to the Noise Ordinance revisions being proposed by the City of Charlotte.

Among other things, the amendments would allow CMPD to designate specific construction sites as ‘chronic noise producers’ and require the creation of a formal plan to mitigate noise impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.

Our three main concerns with the ordinance are:

  • The ambiguity of proposed language that could lead to the citation of construction activity occurring during permitted hours within 200 feet of schools, hospitals and religious buildings.
  • Proposed language stating “A business or construction site may be a chronic noise producer without having violated this article”.  REBIC believes being labeled as a chronic noise producer should be based on multiple violations to the ordinance (not complaints), compounded with a lack of initiative to alleviate the noise problems.
  • Include additional activity exemptions for construction work that must happen at night, such as concrete pours and certain material deliveries.

REBIC will continue to meet with City staff and elected officials over the next couple of weeks to discuss our concerns. The amendments will be discussed at a June 3rd Council workshop, and a vote is scheduled for June 24th.

The proposed Noise Ordinance changes are available here.

Huntersville Adopts Land Development Fee Schedule

As it prepares to take over development plan review from Mecklenburg County on July 1st, the Town of Huntersville has amended its fee schedule to include the current (FY 2018) LUESA fees for land development plan review, bond maintenance and other related services. The fees are substantially lower than those proposed by Mecklenburg County in FY 2019 and 2020, which will increase more than 200% over a two-year period.

Huntersville fees

The main services the Town will take over from LUESA include development plan review; zoning, development and erosion control inspections; and bond administration. Five new positions have been created to provide these services, and the Town expects to have them in place within the next two months. The positions include a Street Inspector, an Erosion Control Inspector, a Bond Administrator, a Stormwater Plan Review and a Zoning Inspector.