General Assembly Begins to Address Local Impact Fee Authority

The North Carolina General Assembly is starting to take a close — and skeptical — look at the development Impact Fees charged by local governments across the state, and some big changes could be on the way in the months ahead.

Last week, the House State and Local Government I Committee heard two bills dealing with impact fees.  Representative Sarah Stevens (R-Surry) introduced two bills in March regarding impact fees which were authorized by the General Assembly more than 30 years ago.  The first, HB 406 Repeal Orange County Impact Fee, would strip Orange County of its ability to impose impact fees. Stevens noted that Orange County recently modified its impact fee structure causing the fee for a multi-family project to increase from $302,000 to $1,593,000. Impact fees for single family residences built in Orange County have been in excess of $10,000 per house.

The second bill, HB 436 Local Government/Regulatory Fees, would prohibit the future imposition of impact fees by cities and counties, and would repeal all existing authority for the twenty municipalities and three counties who were granted this authority pursuant to local acts passed primarily between 1985 and 1989. Continue reading

State House Passes Regulatory Reform Bill

The NC House of Representatives today gave final approval to a 44-page Regulatory Reform bill that contains several critical provisions for residential and commercial developers.

SB 131, ‘Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-2017’, was approved by the House on Thursday by a vote of 84-27, and now heads back to the Senate for a concurrence vote. Among the dozens of reforms it contains, two are of particular interest to developers:

Energy Efficiency Code Exemptions – Section 1.4 of the bill excludes from state Energy Efficiency Code requirements any buildings with the following use classifications:

  • Factory Group F
  • Storage Group S
  • Utility & Miscellaneous Group U

Furthermore, an amendment suggested by REBIC and introduced by Representative Bill Brawley ensures that the energy code exclusion ‘shall apply to the entire floor area of any structure’ included in the provision. This language was intended to prevent the office or showroom portion of a warehouse, industrial or manufacturing building from having to meet energy efficiency code requirements, when the majority of the structure does not.

Stream Mitigation Requirements – Section 3.13 of the bill amends stream mitigation requirements to allow developers to disturb up to 300′ of stream bed before mitigation is required, unless otherwise prohibited by federal law. Current law requires mitigation whenever 150′ or more is disturbed. This provision would bring North Carolina in line with stream mitigation requirements in neighboring states.

REBIC is continuing to review additional provisions in the Regulatory Reform bill, and will provide additional updates in the coming weeks on how this important piece of legislation affects your business.

Building Permit Reform Legislation Introduced in General Assembly

Legislation introduced last week in the North Carolina General Assembly would build on initiatives from recent years to improve and reform the state’s building code process.

HB 252, ‘Building Code Regulatory Reform’, was introduced by Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union), Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance), Larry Potts (R-Davidson), and Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenburg). It contains the following provisions:

  1. Clarifies that counties and municipalities may not continue to enforce any ordinance or policy requiring the inspections of homes more than those specifically set forth in the North Carolina Building Code. Jurisdictions were prohibited from adopting such ordinances or policies by a law enacted in 2013 at the behest of NCHBA.
  2. Authorizes an employee under direct supervision of a licensed architect or licensed engineer to perform field inspections of the completed installation of an engineered component of a project.
  3. Clarifies that no architect or engineer certification is required for components that are engineered by the manufacturer when those components comply with the North Carolina State Building Code.
  4. Requires all local inspection departments to create and implement an informal review process of inspectors. Disagreements on interpretations or inspection issues will be subject to this process. Furthermore, the bill directs inspection departments to report annually to the Joint Committee on Local Government on the implementation of this provision.
  5. Subjects any future or existing codes to the process established in HB 255 for review and approval by the Residential Code Committee or the Building Code Committee of the Building Code Council before consideration by the Council.
  6. Clarifies that inspection agencies shall not apply any local or state interpretation of the building code to projects that are begun under a valid building permit.
  7. Finally, excludes lots with septic tanks or other on-site wastewater systems from dual meter requirements, if the cutoff valve and backflow prevention device are placed within 12 inches of the water meter.

REBIC supports the bill, although we will work with the North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA) to ensure that favorable code interpretations MAY still be applied to projects with a valid permit at the applicant’s discretion.

The legislation has been assigned to the House Regulatory Reform Committee, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

 

 

Charlotte to Hold Community Workshops on UDO Update

clt-udo-graphic

The City of Charlotte is updating its land use policies and development ordinances.  This comprehensive effort — Charlotte Place Types & Unified Development Ordinance — will shape the future growth of our city.

Come lend your voice and learn more about these efforts by joining one of the upcoming workshop discussions.  Each workshop is the same; simply choose the one that is most convenient for you.

  • South Workshop — Tuesday, November 29, 6-8 p.m. Queens University Sports Complex, 2229 Tyvola Road, Charlotte, NC 28210
  • Central Workshop — Friday, December 2, noon-1 p.m. Main Library, 310 North Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
  • East Workshop — Thursday, December 8, 6-8 p.m. Charlotte Museum of History, 3500 Shamrock Drive, Charlotte, NC 28215
  • West Workshop — Tuesday, December 13, 6-8 p.m. Goodwill Opportunity Campus, 5301 Wilkinson Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28208
  • North Workshop — Thursday, December 15, 6-8 p.m. The Oasis Shrine Auditorium, 604 Doug Mayes Place, Charlotte, NC 28262

Online meeting registration is encouraged.  To do so, please click this link.

For more information, please visit CharlotteUDO.org or contact Scott Adams, AICP, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department, at scott.adams@charlottenc.gov.

(Source:  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department)

 

UNC Charlotte Study Outlines Strategies to Expand Affordable Housing Options

sept2016housing_report-cover

A report released this week by the Urban Institute at UNC Charlotte offers 12 strategies for expanding the supply of affordable housing in the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Prepared for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Advisory Board, the 66-page report outlines policies that ‘can be used to finance and facilitate the development of quality affordable housing, with a focus on long-term affordability.’

You can download the full report HERE.

Continue reading

Rock Hill City Council Hears Proposal on CIP, Improvements to be Funded By Increased Fees

Yesterday the Rock Hill City Council heard a proposal from Deputy City Manager, Jimmy Bagley, that would result in $340,000,000 of infrastructure improvements over the next ten years.  The enhancements would be funded by bonds issued in alternating years over the next decade and would be paid back through increased user fees and impact fees.

Under the plan, combined water and wastewater impact fees would nearly triple over the next two years while most users would see annual fee increases over the next eight years.  Separate from the CIP Proposal, but as part of the overall funding discussion, it was mentioned that the fire impact fee would go up nearly 50% over the next two fiscal years for single-family residential developments.  Commercial and industrial developments would see their fees increase roughly 300% during the same time frame.

Staff justified the impact fee and rate fee increases by referencing Rock Hill’s rapid growth over the last decade.  This growth has apparently brought the existing water plant to its maximum output level which could result in the Council considering alternate measures, such as a moratorium, if new funding is not approved.  Council will continue to meet over the next couple of weeks to finalize a plan to address current and future growth.

N.C. Supreme Court Ruling Limits Ability of Local Governments to Assess Impact Fees

by Ted Hennessey, Attorney-at-Law, Robinson Bradshaw

Ted Hennessey

On Aug. 19, the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeals decision and invalidated “impact fees” imposed by North Carolina municipalities. Robinson Bradshaw represented the North Carolina Home Builders Association as an amicus curiae supporting the plaintiff builders and developers before the Supreme Court.

You can read the full Supreme Court decision here.

In Quality Built Homes, Inc. et al. vs. Town of Carthage, the court rejected the town’s argument that the North Carolina Public Enterprise statutes gave it broad authority to impose fees and charges to operate, maintain and expand water and sewer infrastructure. The court implied that while the town may be able to set water and sewer rates, charged to all system users, to generate revenue for system expansion, it could not shift expansion costs to builders and developers via impact fees to be paid in exchange for building permits.

Continue reading