City Council Approves New TOD Ordinance

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The Charlotte City Council last Monday night unanimously approved a new Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Ordinance, which sets standards for commercial and residential development in the city’s light rail corridor.

REBIC and our members worked closely with City planning staff on the ordinance over the past 18 months, and we are generally pleased with the final product. Many of our suggestions — from changes in maximum parking ratios to additional development incentives — were included in the final draft adopted by Council last week. Our only remaining significant concern remains the 130′ building height limitation, which can only be exceeded through the use of a bonus point system that encourages affordable housing investments, energy efficient construction, or the contribution of offsite infrastructure.

While we support each of these policy goals, we believe City Council should do everything possible to encourage density in our transit corridors, and not restrict itself from considering economic development opportunities that would otherwise be limited by the building height caps in each TOD district.

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LUESA Proposes Dramatic Development Fee Hikes for FY 2020

LUESA logoMecklenburg County LUESA is proposing dramatic increases to its Land Development, Zoning and Floodplain Permitting Fees for FY 2020, as it seeks to end a longstanding practice of supporting Land Development Services with excess stormwater fee revenue.

The proposed increases, combined with the elimination of two vacant stormwater positions, will allow Land Development Services to cover 100% of its operating costs, says Land Development Director Dave Canaan. With the Town of Huntersville starting its own land development permitting operation this summer, the County’s Land Development Services division will handle projects in the five remaining towns and the ETJ. The City of Charlotte charges separate fees for land development permitting within its boundaries.

Both REBIC and the Greater Charlotte HBA have voiced our strong opposition to the proposed fees (listed below), which represent year-to-year increases of nearly 200% in some cases. Fees for multi-year projects will be phased in over two years, and new fees will be implemented for re-inspections and re-reviews of development plans.

REBIC is working with members of the Board of County Commissioners to try and find alternative budget approaches that will keep the fees at their current levels, as the proposed increases will dramatically impact housing affordability in the ETJ and five towns. The Commission will hear a presentation on the new fees at a Budget work session on Tuesday, April 9th, and we will be present for the discussion.

LUESA Fee Schedule

City Council Holds TOD Public Hearing Monday Night

qkN8sxKYR4m00izfcke05g_thumb_1e57The Charlotte City Council will hold a public hearing this Monday night on the new Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Ordinancethe first zoning district to be completed in the City’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

REBIC and our members have been closely engaged in the process of drafting the new TOD ordinance over the past 18 months, and the City planning staff, have incorporated many of our suggestions into the ordinance — from changes in maximum parking ratios to reduced open space requirements. And while we are pleased with many aspects of the TOD, we remain concerned that its limitations on building height could negatively impact economic development in Charlotte’s transit corridors. Continue reading

NC Home Builders Support Continuing Ed Legislation

legislative_building_5One of the top legislative priorities of the North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA) took a big step forward last week as Representatives Larry Potts (R-Davidson), Mark Brody (R-Union), Julia Howard (R-Davie) and Ashton Clemmons (D-Guilford) introduced HB 162 – Continuing Education for General Contractors, (i.e., “CE for GCs”).

The bill would require all general contractors, home builders, and anyone with an unclassified licence to complete eight hours of continuing education annually. Two of those hours would have to be a mandatory course approved by the State Licensing Board for General Contractors, while the remainder can be approved electives.

HB 162 has been referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee, but no hearing has yet been scheduled. There is also a companion Senate bill, SB 55 Continuing Education for General Contractors, sponsored by Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus), and Don Davis (D-Greene).

The Carolina Associated General Contractors (CAGC) is also supportive of the legislation, which would take effect January 1st, 2020, if it becomes law.

County Code Enforcement Issues New Guidelines on Townhome Egress

A new Mecklenburg County interpretation of a section of state building code means builders of many urban townhomes will have to adopt one of two approaches to ensure compliance with life health safety requirements.

The issue involves language in IRC Code Section R310.1 – Emergency escape and rescue required. One provision in that section states that ‘Emergency escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.’ In late 2018, Mecklenburg County code officials began interpreting that provision to mean that an easement agreement was required in either the community Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) or on the recorded plat. Continue reading

New State Law Exempts Charlotte Redevelopment Projects from Stormwater Controls

State legislation passed last month at the conclusion of the 2018 session of the General Assembly means redevelopment sites in Charlotte are no longer required to include on-site stormwater controls if no additional impervious surface is created. A provision in SB 469, a Technical Corrections bill initially vetoed by Governor Cooper but ratified through a legislative override, specifically mandates the change to local stormwater ordinances, regardless of where a local government obtains its regulatory authority.

While a redevelopment exemption for stormwater has been state law for years, the City of Charlotte has previously required controls on all projects, citing its adherence to a federal NPDES stormwater permit that called for higher local standards. REBIC has long argued that stormwater controls should not be required on redevelopments where no additional impervious surface is created.

The provision in SB 469 also allows development within a vegetative buffer, as long as the runoff from the entire impervious area of the project is collected, treated, and discharged through a portion of managed vegetative buffer. Of course, stormwater controls will continue to be required on sites whenever additional impervious surface is created.

Thanks are due to the North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA) and State Representative Dean Arp (R-Union) for their support of this critical legislation!

 

 

What a Government Shutdown Means for the Real Estate Industry

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As of midnight on December 21, 2018, the President and Congress were unable to agree on the provisions of a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government. As a result, a partial shutdown of some government operations has occurred. This partial shutdown includes some federal housing, mortgage, and other programs of interest to the real estate industry. A summary of the impact on selected agencies is provided below.

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