Governor Signs Legislation Reducing Regulation on Existing Commercial Buildings

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Legislation passed by the General Assembly could help encourage the redevelopment of properties like the Johnston Mills in NoDa.

Governor Pat McCrory has signed into law a bill to reduce energy code and storm water regulations on existing commercial structures, to encourage their re-use and redevelopment.

H 201, the “Building Reutilization for Economic Development Act,” does the following:

  • Excludes from existing Energy Code requirements any commercial building that received a Certificate of Occupancy prior to January 1, 2012. So long as its alteration would not expand the building area by more than 150 percent, a commercial structure occupied by that date could be renovated or improved under the less-stringent 2009 Energy Code.
  • Excludes from new stormwater regulations any pre-existing development or redevelopment that does not remove or decrease the existing stormwater controls on the property. The bill defines redevelopment as “any land disturbing activity that does not result in a net increase in built-upon area and that provides greater or equal stormwater control to that of the previous development.”

The bill was approved by the General Assembly despite strong opposition from local building code and storm water officials, who claim it will create greater inconsistency in enforcement and negatively impact the quality of impaired streams. Supporters say the bill simply codified DENR’s existing practice of exempting from post-construction storm water requirements any redevelopment that does not result in a net increase in built-upon area.

It remains to be seen how the storm water language will impact projects in the City of Charlotte, which claims its federal NPDES permit requires it to mandate post-construction controls on all sites, regardless of whether it is redevelopment or development of a new, undisturbed site.

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