Mecklenburg County Hopes to Have POSSE System Back Online This Week

Code Enforcement

In the wake of last week’s cybercrime attack, Mecklenburg County is continuing to make progress on restoring permitting systems to full functionality. LUESA is running tests on the POSSE system today, and pending those results, is hoping to have it back up and running by tomorrow or Thursday.

LUESA director Ebenezer Gujjarlapudi told REBIC today he is confident that no plans or review comments were lost during the hack, so the department should be able to pick up where they left off once everything is back online.

Code Enforcement has been averaging about 1,000 inspections a week since the system collapsed, so they don’t expect there will be much (if any) of a backup once the system returns to normal. In addition, the County says they’ve had a number of on-schedule reviews completed this week using the paper process, and once the system is back up, they’ll contact all customers in the queue to let them know how they’ll be proceeding with their scheduled reviews. Again, they seem to expect a minimal disruption. Continue reading

Important Update from Mecklenburg County on Computer Outage

Code Enforcement

An Update for Our Customers

As the situation with Mecklenburg County’s computer system outage continues to develop, we want to keep our customers as informed as possible of the steps Code Enforcement staff is taking to help our customers. As of the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 6th:

  • Phone and e-mail systems are functional. MeckPermit.com is functional, but in some instances, that functionality may be limited, when the site links to or interacts with a program that has not yet been restored.
  • The following systems are still UNAVAILABLE: Permitting & Inspections software (also known as POSSE Outrider or the contractor login), Online Permitting (also known as HIP and TIP), Electronic Plan Management (EPM). Several smaller systems that support these programs or our daily business processes are also unavailable.
  • Inspections are being performed, but scheduled and managed manually. Since our inspections scheduling methods are currently unavailable, please call your inspector directly to request an inspection. If you do not have your inspector’s number, please call the Customer Service Center at 980-314-CODE or check our online staff directory.
  • When systems are restored, we will work closely with our plan review customers who had scheduled reviews pending. Plan Review customers with questions should contact their plan review coordinator directly.
  • We are exploring options for significantly scaled-back manual plan review and permitting processes.  We will update you when a modified process is available.
  • If you are facing an urgent situation, such as the need to have an inspection so power can be restored to a home, or having deadlines such as closing on a home purchase,  please contact the Customer Service Center at 980-314-CODE, or your inspector or coordinator, if you have their contact information.
  • Our office will remain open during regular business hours and our staff will be putting in extra time to help our customers as more of our systems are restored. Commercial and residential technical assistance is still available.

Our priority is minimizing the impact on our customers and community. We are committed to helping resolve each problem as quickly and efficiently as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience, and thank you for your patience.

We will continue to update you, our valued customers, as we have more to report.

City Council Defers Proposed Sidewalk Amendments for Further Review

The Charlotte City Council this week voted 8-1 to refer a controversial sidewalk ordinance back through its committee process, after REBIC and top affordable housing developers voiced concerns over the impact on housing costs.

The ordinance under consideration would require all owners of by-right property along a city thoroughfare to install 6’ sidewalks and 8’ planting strips along their entire frontage when certain development thresholds are met. Unless that property already has a sidewalk at least 4’ in width, along with a planting strip of another 4’, the sidewalk is considered ‘substandard’, and would have to be replaced with a new sidewalk meeting the standards above. Continue reading

General Assembly Adjourns, Sending Key Building Industry Bills to Governor

legislative_building_5The 2017 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly adjourned at 2 a.m. on June 30th, after one of the most hectic weeks of legislative activity in memory. With much left undone, legislators announced they will return to Raleigh on August 3rd to consider a limited range of topics (e.g., any veto overrides, bills that were in conference at the end of the session, potential redistricting issues). Further action on other legislation must wait for next year’s “short” session, set to convene on May 16, 2018.

The key legislation for the real estate and building industry are summarized below: Continue reading

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.