The North Carolina Senate approved legislation this week that would make big changes to environmental permitting, and could roll back portions of local regulations that exceed state mandates, including Charlotte’s Post- Construction Controls Stormwater Ordinance (PCCO).
SB 612, the Regulatory Reform Act of 2013, was approved 36 – 11 in a Thursday afternoon vote, and now heads to the House for consideration. This legislation would provide regulatory relief to the citizens of North Carolina by:
- Prohibiting cities and counties from enacting ordinances that are more stringent that existing state or federal regulations;
- Creating a fast-track permitting process for stormwater and erosion control plans when certain minimum standards have been met and certified by the applicant’s engineer;
- Allowing third-parties to a request a review of existing state rules through the NC Rules Review Commission;
- No longer defining gravel as an impervious surface or “Built-Upon Area;”
- Allowing brick and wood debris to be used as fill on development sites;
- Clarifying the laws relating to groundwater compliance boundaries; and
- Amending the prohibition on master metering to permit an all inclusive lease in a multi-family property.
Language that would have eliminated riparian buffer requirements on property in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River basins was removed by amendment during the floor debate, but could re-emerge in more limited form when the bill reaches the House. While this language would not affect the Charlotte area, both the North Carolina Association of REALTORS (NCAR) and the North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA) have been advocating for a provision to grandfather lots platted prior to the effective date of the basin rules.
One such local ordinance that could be impacted by the passage of SB 612 would be the Charlotte PCCO, which was adopted with stricter redevelopment standards than are called for in state law. This one amendment, which REBIC has long advocated for, could save developers millions in infrastructure costs and substantially open the market for redevelopment of long-neglected intown sites. However, existing federal stormwater law may prevent any significant changes to the PCCO.
REBIC and members of the Charlotte Chamber Land Use Committee are meeting with City of Charlotte officials on May 13 to discuss how SB 612 may affect local regulation. We’ll continue to track the progress of this bill and other regulatory reform legislation, and advocate for their passage in the General Assembly.