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Design Controls Bill Approved By House

March 19, 2013

Following a great deal of debate on the House floor, Representatives voted in favor of HB 150 Zoning/Design & Aesthetic Controls by a count of 94-22. The bill will receive a final vote in the House tomorrow, and if it is approved it will then head to the Senate for consideration.

HB 150 would eliminate cities' ability to impose aesthetic controls over 1- and 2-family dwellings in all zoning districts (with limited exceptions), unless these controls are agreed to by the developer. Municipal officials across the state have spoken out against the bill, saying it would undermine their ability to provide the neighborhood protections their citizens have requested and promote economic development by preserving the character of their community.

League Director of Governmental Affairs Paul Meyer noted in a news article about the bill (see below) that the provisions eliminated by this bill allow municipalities “to maintain a focus on the vision of what a town is going to be and its own character and flair.”

Last night Wake County mayors gathered for a press conference to speak out against the bill. City of Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane noted that the bill would make invalid parts of the city’s recently passed Unified Development Ordinance that was created with the input of citizens and developers.

“It really takes away the power of citizens,” McFarlane said of the bill, according to WRAL.

A number of questions about the bill were raised during the House debate, including concerns that the bill would allow homes in established neighborhoods near universities to be converted in to rooming houses. Legislators also noted that citizens in existing neighborhoods had requested and were supportive of many of the provisions that would be eliminated by this bill.

Bill proponents on multiple occasions questioned municipalities’ authority to enact these controls, citing the recent N.C. Supreme Court decision in Lanvale v. Cabarrus County. It was noted that any municipality wishing to exercise any of the authorities referenced in HB 150 may ask the General Assembly for special legislation giving them the authority to do so.

As noted above, the bill will receive a final vote in the House tomorrow and will then head to the Senate. Please continue to contact your legislators and let them know how this bill will affect your community. The impact of this bill on local communities has drawn media attention from around the state. Please see the news coverage below for more discussion on the changes HB 150 will effect in cities across North Carolina.

News & Observer

WRAL

ABC11

Durham Herald-Sun

PlanCharlotte: Two views on bill to limit local zoning powers

Posted on March 19, 2013 by Chris Nida