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Legislature may rein in conditions placed on development

A new N.C. House committee, charged with reviewing local residential permitting and planning, opened hearings last week with an aim to “streamline” permitting and create a more uniform approach across the state.


Rep. Mark Brody, R-Union, who chairs the new House Select Committee on Residential Planning and Permitting, said he intends to file a bill in the upcoming short session to reduce the amount of regulations imposed on developers and builders by local governments.

Local governments are abusing the permitting authority given to them under conditional use permits and other planning tools, Brody told Carolina Public Press in an interview after the committee’s initial hearing last week.

Some jurisdictions are using these tools to get around what the legislature intended, he said.

“We’ve got to reel that back,” Brody said.

“We’re here to say, ‘If you give the OK to build, then don’t put other conditions in that are over and above what are required.’ Once you give them the OK to go, you should leave them alone.”

Brody, who is a licensed general contractor, said the state needs a more uniform approach to give builders and developers more certainty going into a project. Right now, he said, local governments aren’t constrained.

“There’s no such thing as a state development code,” he said. “It’s basically, ‘Do what you want,’ (with) some limitations but very little.”

Committee members heard a litany of complaints Thursday from homebuilder representatives who said the cost of regulations continues to increase.

Cary-based developer Tom Anhut told legislators that as the economy booms, local governments in the Triangle region have started to demand more and more from developers, particularly when rezoning is required. That includes adding things like affordable housing units and solar installations on a certain percentage of homes, Anhut said.

“Triangle-area municipalities continue to circumvent your state laws by extorting builders and developers through the use of voluntary entitlement commitments,” he said.

“They are openly snubbing their noses at the laws that you pass to address housing affordability while complaining that the housing being built is not affordable to the residents.”

He cited examples from Raleigh, Apex, Cary and Wake Forest, saying those municipalities and others have “ratcheted up” construction standards and required commitments beyond what the law requires, which in turn has increased the cost of housing.

“Through these actions and many others, the very bodies that profess to be concerned about housing affordability continue to add significant cost development and building,” he said.