County Manager Discusses Code Enforcement Improvements with REBIC

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Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio

During a recent visit with REBIC, County Manager Dena Diorio discussed LUESA’s ongoing implementation of a new Electronic Plans Management system, as well as other technology improvements currently under development. Here are some key takeaways from the conversation:

Q: What can Code Enforcement customers expect in terms of improvements form the replacement of the electronic plans management system? 

 

A: The following are some of the major improvements that are being designed for the upgrade:

  • User-friendly dashboards with the ability to alert customers when the status of their plan review has been updated, or additional information is required.
  • System improvements, including:
    • Ability to accept any file format;
    • Scheduling Capability;
    • Management and creation of email templates
    • Replacement of Sheet Index (manual maintaining of drawings/revisions);
    • Incorporate integrated Auto-stamping process for approved drawings/files;
    • Computer Aided Design (CAD) software used for reviews;
    • More robust software that allows for annotations, exporting of annotations and comments; and,
    • Eliminate current File/Sever storage limitations.

Q: Customers frequently experience some misalignment between the County’s plan review system and the systems used by Charlotte and the Towns. Will this be addressed?

A: In short, yes. Currently Code Enforcement and the local governments use the same systems (Winchester and EPM), but they use them for different functions.  The Town land development agencies do not perform the same functions as Code Enforcement. Therefore, a customer could have differing experiences when working with the County vs. the Towns.  A goal of this project is to align those processes to the extent possible in the new system.  The following stakeholders are working with County Code Enforcement and IT to define future state to streamline customer experience with EPM.

Q: Are there any plans to embark on process improvements with the respective towns?

A: Yes, the towns are included in process improvements and the County Land Development team is working collaboratively to identify potential process improvements.  Additionally, town staff have provided their input into the development of the requirements for the new/upgraded EPM system.

Governor Signs Regulatory Reform Bill into Law

Governor Roy Cooper has signed into law a 44-page Regulatory Reform bill that contains several critical provisions for residential and commercial developers.

SB 131, ‘Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-2017’, contains two reforms that are of particular interest to developers:

Energy Efficiency Code Exemptions – Section 1.4 of the bill excludes from state Energy Efficiency Code requirements any buildings with the following use classifications:

  • Factory Group F
  • Storage Group S
  • Utility & Miscellaneous Group U

Furthermore, an amendment suggested by REBIC and introduced by Representative Bill Brawley ensures that the energy code exclusion ‘shall apply to the entire floor area of any structure’ included in the provision. This language was intended to prevent the office or showroom portion of a warehouse, industrial or manufacturing building from having to meet energy efficiency code requirements, when the majority of the structure does not.

This provision must be codified by the North Carolina Building Code Council, which next meets on June 13th in Raleigh. An effective date will likely be set for sometime this fall.

Stream Mitigation Requirements – Section 3.13 of the bill amends stream mitigation requirements to allow developers to disturb up to 300′ of stream bed before mitigation is required, unless otherwise prohibited by federal law. Current law requires mitigation whenever 150′ or more is disturbed. This provision would bring North Carolina in line with stream mitigation requirements in neighboring states.

This provision must be approved by the U.S. Corps of Engineers before it can take effect. A timeline for that adoption has not yet been determined, but REBIC will keep you posted as we learn more details.

Other key provisions in the law include:

  • An update of the general contractors licensing law which contains language clarifying that the determination of project cost for intermediate or limited license excludes the cost of land and any ancillary costs to improve the land.
  • A 5-year statute of limitations and a 7-year statute of repose on local governments to pursue an alleged violation of a land-use statute, ordinance or permit against a landowner. Current law does not contain any statute of limitations.

Councilman James Mitchell Hosting May 11th Community Forum on Growth & Development in Charlotte

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Town of Davidson Hosting May 8th Affordable Housing Forum

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Davidson citizens are invited to the Davidson Town Hall board room on Monday, May 8 at 6:00 p.m. for an affordable housing forum hosted by the Town of Davidson and the UNC-Charlotte Urban Institute.

The UNCC Urban Institute will present information and recommendations from the recently conducted Affordable Housing Needs Assessment. Following the presentation, attendees will break into smaller groups for round table discussions facilitated by the Urban Institute.

“The Davidson Board of Commissioners and town staff  hope citizens will attend to share their ideas about affordable housing,” said Affordable Housing Manager Cindy Reid.

For more information on the affordable housing program and to review the assessment, please visit www.townofdavidson.org/affordablehousing.

(Source:  Town of Davidson)

General Assembly Begins to Address Local Impact Fee Authority

The North Carolina General Assembly is starting to take a close — and skeptical — look at the development Impact Fees charged by local governments across the state, and some big changes could be on the way in the months ahead.

Last week, the House State and Local Government I Committee heard two bills dealing with impact fees.  Representative Sarah Stevens (R-Surry) introduced two bills in March regarding impact fees which were authorized by the General Assembly more than 30 years ago.  The first, HB 406 Repeal Orange County Impact Fee, would strip Orange County of its ability to impose impact fees. Stevens noted that Orange County recently modified its impact fee structure causing the fee for a multi-family project to increase from $302,000 to $1,593,000. Impact fees for single family residences built in Orange County have been in excess of $10,000 per house.

The second bill, HB 436 Local Government/Regulatory Fees, would prohibit the future imposition of impact fees by cities and counties, and would repeal all existing authority for the twenty municipalities and three counties who were granted this authority pursuant to local acts passed primarily between 1985 and 1989. Continue reading

State House Passes Road Maintenance Bond Legislation

The North Carolina House last week passed legislation to establish a new performance guarantee process for subdivision roads, while also requiring the state Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to develop a comprehensive roads database and improve the process by which roads are accepted into the state system for maintenance.

HB 457, ‘Performance Guarantees/Subdivision Streets’  would authorize counties to be able to require “residual performance guarantees” from developers, but, in return, requires NCDOT to expedite the acceptance of county subdivision roads.  Despite the fact that these roads are constructed to DOT standards and are given to the state at no cost, the NCDOT has historically been slow to accept them into its system.

The legislation also requires the state to accept subdivision roads approved on or after October 1, 2010, which meet DOT standards and which have been open to public travel for the last 6 years.

Finally, the legislation would direct NCDOT to work with counties to create a database that would convey the status of roads within each county (i.e., “public” or “private”).  This database would provide Realtors® and property owners much-needed information about the maintenance responsibilities associated with many of the state’s orphan roads, as well as establish a greater understanding for road ownership for properties across the state.

HB 457 passed the House by a unanimous vote of 112-0, and now moves on to the Senate. It is supported by both the North Carolina Association of Realtors® (NCAR) and the North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA)

Source: NCAR & NCHBA

With National Flood Insurance Program Expiring in Six Months, Realtors® Sound the Alarm

img_0100On September 30 — just six short months from now — the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) is working closely with federal regulators and members of Congress to strengthen the program and clear the way for a private market to take hold; NAR has also issued a series of principles to improve access and affordability for consumers. But Realtors® warn the program’s September 30 reauthorization deadline is a threat to consumers. Continue reading