Land Use Changes Bill Becomes Law, Plus Building Code Regulatory Reform Is Fifth Major NCHBA Priority To Pass This Session
A longtime legislative priority for NCHBA became law on Thursday. SB 355 (Land Use Regulatory Changes) sponsored by Senators Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake) in the Senate and Representatives Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), John Bell (R-Wayne), Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth) and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland) in the House was signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper. The bill as previously discussed will grant landowners greater certainty by integrating permit choice and greater vesting protections to ensure that the rules are not changed in the middle of a development project. In addition, the bill will protect landowners against 3rd party rezoning efforts. The bill also allows certain claims to bypass the Board of Adjustment and proceed to Superior Court. Finally, the legislation places limits on conditional zoning abuse, while preserving flexibility for developers.
This legislation will have a positive impact on housing affordability across the state. This was a huge victory for NCHBA members and will provide them better a regulatory environment when developing projects in the future.
Another one of our top legislative priorities, HB 675 (2019 Building Code Regulatory Reform), sponsored by Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union), Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland) was sent to the Governor on Thursday. The legislation will simplify and correct numerous issues currently facing builders across the state. This year’s bill includes several important provisions: prohibiting developers from having to bury power lines outside of a subdivision, eliminating minimum square footage requirements for homes and expediting the local plan review process. Additional provisions include:
- Requires the North Carolina Building Code Council to create an inspection form to be used by engineers and architects and clarifies that they can inspect foundations and underslabs.
- Adds a new level of inspector, residential changeout inspector, to assist with minor inspections which will free up existing inspectors to concentrate on new construction.
- Creates an exclusion from the NC Building Code for motion picture, television or theatre stage sets.
- Requires the North Carolina Building Code Council to conduct a cost/benefit analysis for all proposed changes to the North Carolina Energy Conservation Code.
- Requires the North Carolina Building Code Council to study options to dispose of dirt, sand, gravel, rock, concrete or other nonhazardous material at the site of construction including porch fill to decrease the volume to solid waste disposal facilities.
- Requires that a local government cannot impose a local ordinance or other policy other than those required under the NC Building Code to receive a temporary certificate of occupancy.
- Clarifies that it is illegal for someone to falsely claim to be a North Carolina licensed general contractor or suggests in connection with any business activities regulated by the North Carolina General Contractors Licensing Board.
- Extends the time period for reporting fifteen or more framing violations to the North Carolina Department of Insurance to October 1, 2021.
- Allows the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinklers to create a Residential Fire Sprinkler Design license.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted to pass this legislation unanimously, 46-0. On Thursday, the House concurred with the minor changes that the Senate made to the legislation. This bill received strong bipartisan support after months of collaborating with members on both sides of the aisle. NCHBA has reached out to the Governor’s office in an effort to solicit his support. Like all legislation, the Governor has 10 days to sign or veto a bill, after which time the legislation becomes law.
HB 268 (Amend On-site Wastewater Laws), sponsored by Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union) and Michael Wray (D-Northampton) was sent to the Governor on Wednesday. The bill disallows several newly enacted rules that would have had a negative impact on homes built with septic systems. The bill creates a task force that will craft new rule recommendations that will both suit builders and protect the environment. The legislation provides NCHBA with a seat on this task force which is to report its findings to the Department of Health and Human Services by October 31, 2019.
The bill passed the Senate 48-1 and was sent back to the House for a concurrence vote after some minor technical changes were made concerning the composition of the task force. The bill received a vote of 113-6 on concurrence and was sent to the Governor.
A bill that would require cities with a population of 90,000 or more to report on the state of their affordable housing has been sent to the Governor. SB 316 (Affordable Housing) introduced by Senators Andy Wells (R-Catawba), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), and Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) would direct those qualifying cities to report the amount of affordable housing units currently in use in the municipality that are subsidized by local government revenue or tax credits. The report must also include strategies the municipalities are using to reduce the cost of privately developed housing. The findings of the report must be submitted before October 1, 2019, to both the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Local Government and the Fiscal Research Division.
HB 620 (Street Database/Manual/Public Record Exemption), sponsored by Representatives John Szoka (R-Cumberland), Dana Bumgardner (R-Gaston), Zach Hawkins (D-Durham), and Frank Iler (R-Brunswick), was sent to the Governor’s desk on Thursday. The bill would require the North Carolina Department of Transportation to create a Public Street Information Database for the purpose of street identification, indicating whether the street is municipal, state, or private owned. Additional language would require NCDOT to update its Subdivision Roads Minimum Construction Standards Manual. The bill cleared the Senate unanimously on third reading and also unanimously in the House on a concurrence vote.
The Senate filed an adjournment resolution on Thursday that would shut down the current session and limit future business when they reconvene. SB 688 introduced by Senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) would adjourn the General Assembly on July 22 and have them reconvene on August 27. The resolution would also limit the scope of future legislation when they reconvene. Leaders in both the House and Senate majorities and the Governor’s office continue to not see eye to eye on several budgetary items. This time may allow them to work out some of their differences on spending priorities.
Legislator of the Week
Representative Jon Hardister (R-Guilford)
We would like to take this opportunity to introduce our“Legislator of the Week,” Representative Jon Hardister! Representative Hardister has been a strong friend of our industry over the past four sessions that he has served in the North Carolina House of Representatives. He has been the primary sponsor of some of our top legislative priorities, including HB 675 (2019 Building Code Regulatory Reform).
We thank Representative Hardister for all of his hard work in ensuring that North Carolina continues to be a leader in housing affordability!