Comment Period Extended on Permeable Pavement Rules

Due to the high level of interest in the draft revised permeable pavement chapter of the N.C. Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual, the Division of Water Quality has extended the public comment period closing date from Aug. 1, 2012 to Sept. 1, 2012.  Comments may be submitted to Annette Lucas at annette.lucas@ncdenr.gov or Boyd DeVane at boyd.devane@ncdenr.gov.  Release of the final version of the chapter is scheduled for Oct. 1, 2012.

The Division is also in the process of updating the Nutrient Loading Accounting Tool, as well as the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico Export Calculation Worksheets to provide appropriate nutrient removal credits for permeable pavement. The updates to the models and worksheets will be completed by Dec. 1, 2012.

The proposed changes in the permeable pavement chapter can be found at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/wq/ws/su/bmp-ch18

LUESA Working to Fix Issues with Electronic Plan Review

Mecklenburg County LUESA is working to fix issues that have cropped up with its Electronic Plan Management (EPM) system since the service was introduced in January, and has assured REBIC that improvements are on the way.

In recent weeks, developers and engineers began to raise concerns that they weren’t receiving e-mail notifications that record plat redlines were ready for their review. Because of this, the timeframe for record plat approval was stretching beyond the department’s goal of 10 business days, impacting the ability of builders to sell their homes.

In a meeting with REBIC last week, LUESA Director Dave Canaan said he and his staff were working to determine why e-mail notifications were not being sent to the engineer or surveyor when a redlined plat was ready for their review. This feature was touted as one of the benefits of the EPM system, and Canaan said he hopes to have the problem remedied in the next few weeks. Until then, engineers and developers are encouraged to log into the system on a daily basis to check the status of their plans. LUESA is also working on a simplified online application form for the submission of record plats, and exploring ways to allow the system to send out e-mail notifications to multiple parties, so the project owner can be kept up to date along with the engineer.

REBIC will continue to work with LUESA to improve the electronic plan review process, and welcomes your input and suggestions on ways in which the system could be made more effective. Please e-mail your ideas to Joe.Padilla@REBIC.com, or leave a comment on this post.

Protected: NCDOT “Fully Committed” to Garden Parkway & Monore Bypass Toll Roads

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Protected: REBIC Helps Achieve Improvements to Charlotte’s Rental Registration Program

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REBIC Helps Facilitate Improvements to PED Overlay District

The Metropolitan development, at Kings & Charlottetown, is now in the PED Overlay District

Changes to the PED Overlay, first suggested by REBIC last year, were unanimously approved by Charlotte City Council on July 16, along with a separate ordinance that placed a large portion of the Midtown and Morehead commercial areas, under the overlay zoning.

One of the approved PED amendments addresses language requiring commercial property owners to make costly streetscape investments when a change of use required more than five additional parking spaces. This affected owners who needed to replace one retail tenant (a bookstore, for instance) with another that required more parking under the PED standards, such as a restaurant. Under the new language, the streetscape improvements will be required ONLY when the change of use requires the property owner to expand or reconfigure their site to accommodate the additional parking, NOT when the additional spaces are already available.

The second amendment dealt with a requirement for “active uses” along at least 50 percent of the street frontage of a structured parking deck, or any new building that includes a parking structure at street level. REBIC argued that this requirement would only lead to the construction of more vacant retail and commercial space in locations where it isn’t needed, just to comply with aesthetic streetscape standards. Again, the City agreed to begin addressing this concern by enforcing the “active use” requirement only along a minor or major thoroughfare, and allowing architecturally compliant facades on local streets. While this doesn’t entirely eliminate this burdensome requirement, it at least lessens its impact.

You can review the adopted amendments HERE.  The map showing the new PED Overlay District in the Midtown, Morehead and Cherry neighborhoods is available HERE.

City Council Approves Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance

An ordinance approved earlier this week means Charlotte could soon see more Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in both new and existing neighborhoods throughout the city. The change, which was supported by REBIC, will help increase both the diversity and supply of Charlotte’s stock of affordable housing, and provide a greater variety of living options for multi-generational households.

As defined by the Charlotte Zoning Ordinance, ADUs are a “second dwelling unit … located within the principal detached dwelling or within a separate accessory structure.” To qualify as a “dwelling,” the unit must include both kitchen and bathroom facilities and be intended for use as a year-round residence. ADUs are not uncommon — basement and garage apartments already exist throughout Charlotte — but because they were previously restricted for use by the elderly and handicapped, many were not constructed legally and remain unpermitted. The new ordinance will change that by allowing anyone to rent or occupy an ADU, unless their use is specifically prohibited by a neighborhood covenant or deed restriction.

The ADU ordinance is one of the first products of the city’s Incentive-Based Inclusionary Housing Task Force, initiated last summer with the goal of increasing the supply of more affordable, workforce housing in parts of Charlotte where those options are fast disappearing. It allows ADUs as a permitted accessory use in any Single-Family, Multifamily, Urban Residential, Mixed-Use or Office/Business district, with the following restrictions:

  • The ADU shall be clearly subordinate to the principal single family detached structure.
  • No more than one ADU shall be located on a lot.
  • The ADU and the principal dwelling shall be owned by the same person.
  • The ADU shall not be served by a driveway separate from that serving the principal dwelling, unless it is within an accessory structure and located on a corner lot or a lot that abuts an alley.

An ADU located within a principal single family structure must also comply with the following requirements:

  • Limited to 35% of the total floor area of the principal structure, or a maximum of 800 heated square feet.
  • The ADU shall not be internally accessible from the principal dwelling.
  • The pedestrian entrance to the ADU shall be located to the side or rear of the structure.

An ADU located within an accessory structure must also comply with the following requirements:

  • The ADU shall have a floor area no greater than 50% of the principal structure and under no circumstances cover more than 30% of the established rear yard. In no case shall the ADU exceed 800 heated square feet.
  • The accessory structure shall be no taller than the principal dwelling.
  • The ADU shall be located in the rear yard and not be any closer than 15 feet to a rear property line or along any side property line. If the ADU is located within a garage structure and the parcel abuts an alley, the structure may be located up to 5 feet from the rear property line if the garage is accessed from the alley.
  • If a new accessory structure is being constructed, the roof and exterior wall materials and finishes of the ADU shall be similar in composition and appearance to that of the principal dwelling.

A July 18 article in the Wall Street Journal focuses on the growing trend of amending local zoning ordinances to allow ADUs, and a recent report by the American Planning Association outlines the organization’s support for the units.

You can download the ADU amendments HERE.

National Flood Insurance Program Extended for 5 Years

On July 6, President Obama signed the Surface Transportation Bill (H.R. 4348) into law, reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through 2017.

Congress had been extending the National Flood Insurance Program a few months at a time since 2008.  Twice this led to shutdowns, including one that stalled more than 40,000 home sales in June 2010 alone.  Passage of this 5-year reauthorization will bring certainty to real estate transactions in more than 21,000 communities nationwide where flood insurance is required for a mortgage.  The bill ensures the program will continue long-term for more than 5.6 million business- and homeowners who rely on it, achieves one of the top priorities for the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), and means taxpayers will spend less on federal assistance for flood disasters over the long run.  NAR will continue to monitor the legislation as it is implemented.

n addition to the 5-year program reauthorization, the bill includes many program reforms which:

  • Ensure the NFIP’s survival so that homeowners will NOT have to take their chances in a virtually non-existent private market for flood insurance;
  • Bring certainty to half-a-million real estate transactions in 21,000 communities nationwide where flood insurance is required for a federally related mortgage;
  • Maintain comprehensive coverage and program access for all properties, including second and vacation homes;
  • Establish a formula for NFIP and wind insurers to pay where property damage cannot be attributed to wind or water, settling a long-standing dispute and avoiding further lawsuits;
  • Eliminate subsidized insurance rates on properties with repeated flood losses and claims;
  • Raise $3 billion in revenue to help pay down the outstanding Treasury loan for the 2005 storm season, which shattered all records for hurricanes;
  • Improve the accuracy of floodplain maps by establishing a technical council of experts to review and set the standards;
  • Establish an independent appeals board for homeowners and communities to resolve their flood map disputes with FEMA;
  • Reimburse homeowner’s appeal expenses when successfully challenging a flood map;
  • Require the lender to terminate the flood insurance it “force places” and issue refunds to homeowners who already have their own coverage;
  • Study expanding NFIP coverage to include living and business-interruption expenses; and
  • Study the availability and affordability of property insurance for natural disasters other than floods, which could help justify a role for the federal government.

NAR eliminated provisions, contained in the original legislation, which sought to end the NFIP. There are no provisions to expand the flood insurance purchase requirement to properties located behind a dam or levee (so called “residual risk” provisions). While some provisions to eliminate rate subsidies do remain, a phase-out provision was added so that any rate increase would be gradual over a period of years. NFIP coverage and access are maintained.

The bill also requires a study on affordability and implementation, enabling NAR to revisit these provisions down the road if necessary. These provisions were necessary to save a program that is $18 billion debt and secure passage of the 5-year extension to avoid further disruption of real estate markets across the U.S.

Source: NAR