Home Builder Legislative Priorities Make Progress in Raleigh

NCHBAOne of NCHBA’s year’s top legislative priorities took a giant step forward last Thursday in the House Regulatory Reform Committee. SB 355 (Land Use Regulatory Changes) sponsored by Senators Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake), cleared the committee after a unanimous vote. The bill helps level the playing field between landowners and local governments by, among other things:

  • Integrating permit choice and vesting laws to ensure that the rules are not changed in the middle of a development project.
  • Protecting landowners against 3rd party rezoning efforts.
  • Allowing certain claims to bypass the Board of Adjustment and proceed to Superior Court.
  • Placing limits on conditional zoning abuse, while preserving flexibility for developers.
  • Provisions of SB 422 (Planning/Development Changes) which combine and modernize existing city and county planning and zoning chapters as developed by the NC Bar Association.

NCHBA has pursued legislation containing many of the same provisions during the previous two sessions. While these previous bills have passed the House by wide margins, they failed to get across the finish line in the Senate. This year, your legislative team made the decision to pursue the bill in the Senate first and an outstanding team of sponsors was recruited in Senators Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake). This strategy proved successful and the bill passed the Senate last month with a strong bi-partisan vote of 39-9.

After the bill was received by the House, NCHBA convened a broad stakeholder’s group which included the NC League of Municipalities, the NC Association of County Commissioners, the city attorney for Raleigh, and other local government and development advocates. After holding an initial meeting to identify issues of concern, NCHBA General Counsel Mike Carpenter and the League. Legislative Counsel Erin Wynia worked diligently with the other stakeholder leaders to craft a compromise bill. This compromise led to the local government advocates not opposing the bill. In turn, this agreement led to the unanimous committee vote and should pave the way for swift passage by the full House.

Leading our efforts on the House floor will be the sponsors of the House companion bill — Representatives Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne), Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth) and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland). The bill will then return to the Senate for a concurrence vote on the changes made in the House. It will then be presented to Governor Cooper and, in light of the agreement of the parties, we would expect the governor to sign the bill into law.

Another of NCHBA’s top session priorities, SB 55 (Continuing Education for General Contractors) was unanimously approved by the House Finance Committee on Wednesday morning and will now make one last stop in the House Rules Committee before a full House floor vote. Primary sponsors of this bill are Senators Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Don Davis (D-Greene). When the bill gets to the House floor, sponsors of the House companion bill, Representatives Larry Potts (R-Davidson), Mark Brody (R-Union), Julia Howard (R-Davie) and Ashton Clemmons (D-Guilford) will make sure it gets a big vote.

The bill would require at least one qualifier of a building, residential or unclassified licensee to obtain 8 hours of instruction annually as a requirement for license renewal.

This bill has been scheduled to be heard in the House Rules Committee on Monday and may be included on Tuesday’s House calendar. Upon passage, this bill will go directly to the Governor who is expected to sign it into law. If so, the continuing education requirement will take effect in 2020. Starting in 2021, all 8 hours can be satisfied by taking approved courses online.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee approved another of our key priorities HB 675 (2019 Building Code Regulatory Reform), sponsored by Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union), Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland). Among the important provisions in this year’s bill are: prohibiting developers from having to bury power lines outside of a subdivision, eliminating minimum square footage requirements for homes and expediting the local plan review process.

The Senate Finance Chairs have indicated that this bill could be heard in their committee early next week, before heading to the Senate Rules Committee and finally the Senate floor. Since this legislation has been modified, it will have to go back to the House for a concurrence vote.

Another one of our legislative priorities also cleared the House Regulatory Reform Committee on Thursday by a unanimous vote. SB 313 (Performance Guarantee to Streamline Affordable Housing), sponsored by Senators Andy Wells (R-Catawba), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) and Mike Woodard (D-Durham), makes several refinements in our successful 2015 effort to reform the performance guarantee process. Prior to this year’s session, NCHBA was able to work out these refinements with the NC League of Municipalities to make it a consensus bill.

This bill has one additional stop in the House Rules Committee before reaching the House floor.

Source: North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA)

 

City Considering Tightening Minimum Housing Code

ssi002.ilookabout.comThe City of Charlotte is considering revisions to its Minimum Housing Code Ordinance, with changes that could impact housing affordability by raising the cost of property management and code compliance for landlords.

A full list of the proposed changes is available here, along with the presentation made last week to City Council’s Neighborhood Development Committee. They include:

  • Requiring roof drains, gutters and downspouts be maintained in good repair and free from obstructions and designed to discharge rainwater away from
    the structure.
  • Requiring any existing air conditioning systems to be ‘in good working condition.’
  • Requiring that cabinet doors and drawers be ‘operating as intended and have functional hardware.’
  • Requiring that exhaust ducts for clothes dryers be equipped with a back-draft
    damper.
  • New fines of $500 per day for failure to correct any dangerous violations within 48 hours.
  • Enhanced penalties for Environmental Court convictions that include probation or up to 30 days in jail.

REBIC and the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association were successful in getting last week’s committee vote on the proposal deferred until Wednesday, July 17th, citing our concerns with the ambiguity in many of the provisions, and the potential impact on the City’s dwindling supply of Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing.

An industry strategy meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at 9:00am at the offices of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association, 6060 Piedmont Row Dr. South, Suite 575. All impacted property owners and landlords are strongly encouraged to attend.

REBIC, Home Builders Meet with Cabarrus County Staff on Proposed Fee Increases

Cabarrus County Seal

This past Wednesday, REBIC and representatives from the Cabarrus Chapter of the Greater Charlotte HBA met with Cabarrus County Planning staff to discuss a recent proposal to increase planning, zoning, and some building inspection fees. The increases would impact both commercial and residential zonings in unincorporated Cabarrus County, as well as construction projects countywide. 

Staff has proposed that these new fees will go into effect starting January 1, 2020. Along with changes in the cost of permit fees, staff is also proposing changing new construction permits to a single permit. Many of the changes result from a shift from a fee structure based on estimation of cost per project, to one based on square footage.

In 2018, the North Carolina General Assembly adopted new regulations regarding the costs of fees that may be charged by jurisdictions for services. The direction in GS 153A-354, Section C. is that fees should not exceed the costs to provide the service.

In response to this legislation, and due to the length of time it has been since Cabarrus County examined its fees, the Cabarrus County Planning and Development staff has been working with Wohlford Consulting to produce a comprehensive analysis of costs of services in order to produce an updated fee schedule. 

The Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners will discuss the proposed fees at their work session on Monday, July 1st.

Here is a link to the presentation to the County Commissioners earlier this month, and the proposed fee schedule.

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.

 

NC Senate Passes Legislation to Clarify Taxation of Property Management Contracts

legislative_building_5The North Carolina Senate this week advanced legislation supported by REBIC, the North Carolina Association of Realtors® (NCR), NAIOP Charlotte, 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, passed the Senate on Thursday 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!

 

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!