A top NCHBA legislative session priority was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday. SB 313 (Performance Guarantees to Streamline Affordable Housing) makes refinements to our 2015 performance guarantee reform legislation. The first issue addressed in this legislation is the practice of some jurisdictions to require a longer term for a performance guarantee (PG) than is required to complete the project. This bill provides a one-year length on a required PG with the duration of any extension required only that period necessary to complete the required improvements. The bill sets an objective test to determine when the improvements have to be accepted. It provides that administrative fees are included in the 125% cap on PGs set by the 2015 reform law and allows developers to post one PG instead of multiple ones if desired.
We are pleased to report that this bill is consensus legislation which was worked out with the League of Municipalities over the past several months.
Senator Andy Wells (R-Catawba), who handled the 2015 bill for us in the Senate, is the primary sponsor of this legislation. The other two primary sponsors are Senator Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) and Senator Mike Woodard (D-Durham). We appreciate their leadership.
Representative Mark Brody (R-Union) is finalizing legislation that will become the 5th Building Code Regulatory Reform measure. These measures began in 2013 with HB 120 (Building Codes: Local Consistency) and have subsequently followed in 2015, 2017, and 2018. This series of legislation has brought greater clarity and reform to the inspection process and many related issues. This year’s version includes provisions which are designed to expedite local plan review, improve consistency with the engineered-option and decrease delays with certificates of occupancy. The legislation would also clarify that developers are not required to bury power lines outside of subdivisions. The bill is expected to be introduced next week and your NCHBA legislative team is already working to line up legislators to join Representative Brody as primary sponsors.
NCHBA Executive Vice President & General Counsel Mike Carpenter continues to craft legislation which would bring about significant regulatory land use improvements. This year’s bill would be on the heels of two earlier bills in both the 2015 and 2017 Sessions. Both of these earlier efforts passed the House but failed to get to the Senate floor after having been approved by various Senate committees. Among the issues addressed are provisions which integrate permit choice with vesting protections for landowners; allow landowners to bypass the Board of Adjustment for certain claims; and clarifies the award of attorneys’ fees to landowners in actions against local governments who exceed their authority.
In the two past sessions, this bill has been met with opposition from local governments who have enjoyed an uneven playing field against property owners and we expect the same again.
NCHBA also expects to file legislation next week which would clarify that only cities and counties who have sought and successfully obtained specific authority from the General Assembly may enact a local tree ordinance. Several jurisdictions across North Carolina have adopted tree protection ordinances that have not received specific legislative authorization to do so.
The legislation is also expected to provide landowners with greater latitude regarding the removal and replacement of trees on private property. While this legislation is expected to meet great resistance, it is a fight worth waging.
Finally, SB 316 (Affordable Housing) was introduced on Wednesday by Senators Wells, Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) and Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson). While not an NCHBA bill, we consulted with Senator Wells about it. The bill would direct municipalities with more than 90,000 citizens to report to the General Assembly about the current state of affordable housing units within their city. Cities would be required to submit the number of affordable housing units currently in use which are subsidized by local tax revenue or credits. The legislation would also require cities to detail their strategies that are in place that are meant to limit cost on private development. Finally, cities are directed to specially report on 12 specific activities that would reduce the cost of housing including density and the use of mixed-use developments.
Mark your calendars as NCHBA’s Legislative Reception and Legislative Day are just around the corner. May 21st will mark our 2nd Quarter Meeting followed by an always-popular reception honoring members of the General Assembly and Council of the State at the North Carolina Museum of History. NCHBA Legislative Day will be held on May 22nd at the General Assembly. Let your voice to be heard by lawmakers!