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League Comments on Proposed Fracking Regulations

The League provided comments to the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) Tuesday regarding proposed rules for the management of oil and gas exploration in the state. The League discussed proposed regulations related to water withdrawals, wastewater disposal, baseline water supply testing, setbacks and local government preemption.

The League strongly emphasized that wastewater treatment facilities should not be required to accept wastewater produced from hydraulic fracturing drilling, even though the proposed rules do not include such a requirement. In addition, the League requested that local governments retain the ability to establish setback distances within their jurisdictions. The comments also urged the commission to work with legislators to secure authority that would allow it to administer an impact fee providing reimbursements to local governments for any damage to infrastructure, such as harm to roads. Contact: Sarah Collins

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Governor Makes Coal Ash Commission Appointments

A UNC-Chapel Hill finance professor will head the new Coal Ash Management Commission that will assign hazard classifications to coal ash ponds and make recommendations on ash management rules. Michael Jacobs, who teaches at the Kenan-Flagler School of Business, was appointed by Governor Pat McCrory as chair of the commission this week. The commission was created in the aftermath of the Duke Energy coal ash spill on the Dan River. Governor McCrory made three appointments to the nine-member commission even as he challenges the Legislature's decision to control a majority of appointments for what he says is an executive branch function. Read more about the Governor's appointments here.
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CityVision 2014 Just Around the Corner

The League's annnual conference is just a little more than a week away from kicking off. CityVision 2014: Charting Our Tomorrow gets underway with the 14th Annual NCLM Golf Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 11 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, and will get into full swing with events on Sunday, Oct. 12, including the sports-themed Host City Event at the Greensboro Coliseum that Sunday night. Find all of the details about CityVision 2014 here.
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League Supports Retaining NC's Impaired Waters Listing Procedures

The League submitted comments Tuesday regarding the N.C. Division of Water Resource's (DWR) 2016 listing methodology for the state's impaired waters list ("303(d) list"), focusing on support for retaining North Carolina’s “90% confidence limit” methodology for toxic parameters.

The 303(d) list is named after Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act, which requires states to evaluate the health of their waters and list those exhibiting impairments every two years. Once listed, impaired waters most often become subject to water pollution restrictions for the affected watershed, usually in the form of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Local governments, as the holders of wastewater and stormwater discharge permits, bear responsibility for reducing their discharges to waters under a TMDL, often a costly requirement. Contact: Sarah Collins

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US DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics Releases Annual Travel Report

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics has released its extensive annual snapshot of motorists and travel trends. The 2014 Passenger Travel Facts and Figures report shows 76.3 percent of people travel to work by commuting individually in their cars. Nonetheless, the report also reveals that travel by bus has risen 97.8 percent from 2005 to 2011.

A few other facts and figures gleaned from the report: 

  • Americans averaged 36.1 miles of travel per day.
  • In 2012, 2.8 percent of people walked to work.
  • Travel times per weekday have been rising since 2009 after dropping for several straight years before 2009.
  • On the weekends, the average person spends 84.6 minutes each day engaged in travel.

The report contains pages and pages of transportation-related facts and numerous graphs and charts detailing trends in travel, much of it with implications for municipalities and municipal planning.

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Creative Class Moves Downtown

The Washington Post's Wonkblog, using an analysis from researchers at the University of Toronto, recently took a look at how the movement of younger workers making up the so-called creative class may be pushing service and working-class workers further away from their job sites. The piece includes maps of a handful of U.S. cities showing where people are living in those cities, not by wealth, but by these broad job classifications. The maps also reflect the intensity of the trend by neighborhood.

The article points out that an unintended consequence of the move by "creative class" workers to downtowns is that service and working-class workers who may have a greater need for city amenities, such as mass transit, are pushed further away from them. "Across many of these places, there remain strikingly few working-class strongholds. It appears as if the 'creative class' has claimed the downtown core," the article concludes. The analysis from the University of Toronto researchers can be found here.

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New Laws Take Effect in October

A host of new laws took effect Oct. 1, including several affecting municipalities. One of the new laws, HB 625 Zoning/Health Care Structures, regulates so-called "granny pods," the small, temporary structures that can be placed on residential lots so that an infirm relative can be cared for by a family member. The legislation first passed the state House in 2013, but was not acted on by the Senate until this year. The pre-fab alternatives to nursing homes first began being marketed in large numbers in 2012. The law requires cities to consider the structures as a part of the permitted use in areas zoned for single-family residences, but it also puts some restrictions on their use.

Other laws that took effect on Oct. 1 include:    

  • HB 346 Governing Bodies/Collect Unpaid Judgments: Allows local government to garnish the wages of a member of a governing body if that member is delinquent on a money judgment entered by a court.
  • HB 1025 DOT/DMV Changes: Includes a provision increasing penalties for ethics law violations by members of Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Rural Planning Organizations.
  • HB 1050 Omnibus Tax Law Changes: This legislation includes next year's repeal of the privilege license tax; the provisions going into effect in October include sales taxes being applied to service contracts and the repeal of a sales tax exemption on newspapers sold in racks.

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Join One of the League's Policy Committees!

It's that time of year again! The League is accepting applications for all four policy committees and we want YOU to join us! The policy committees receive the latest legislative updates, hear specialized presentations from political leaders, and most importantly guide the League's policy development process. All committees are open to municipal elected officials and staff, with terms lasting two years.

It's easy to apply. Just fill out this form no later than Oct. 31, 2014. You can email it to, fax it to (919) 301-1012, or just drop it off in-person at the League's CityVision 2014 annual conference.

We hope you also will join us for our Advocacy Goals Conference on Dec. 11 in Raleigh, and the pre-conference legislative reception on the night of Dec. 10. The conference is where the entire League membership will finalize the legislative and regulatory goals package to guide League staff during the upcoming legislative biennium. We hope to see you there!

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Park Negotiations Continue in Raleigh

Negotiations between the state and the City of Raleigh over the sale of the former site of the Dorothea Dix psychiatric hospital are apparently snagged over how much land will be included in the deal. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that the sides have agreed on a $52 million deal for the 300-plus acre piece of property. Raleigh wants to turn the land into a destination park. State leaders, though, want the city to lease 27.5 acres back to the state for as long as the state wishes. Read more about the long-running negotiations here.