TOP 10 NCHBA LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE 2020 SESSION
Pro-Active Accomplishments
1. SB 720 (GSC Confirming Amends/Land-Use Regulatory Changes); Session Law 2020-25

The enactment of this bill was one of NCHBA’s top session priorities. It was necessary in order to preserve NCHBA’s historic victory last year in enacting SB 355 (Land Use Regulatory Changes) which brought about significant and beneficial changes to local planning and land use laws. It was the final step in a five-year journey by NCHBA to reform the planning and zoning statutes.

SB 355 was enacted last year with strong bipartisan support and became effective upon the Governor’s signature on July 11, 2019 (Session Law 2019-111). The bill contained two parts. Part 1 was our series of major land use changes which became law on that date and are in effect today. Part 2 of the bill was the result of a five-year effort by the Planning, Zoning, and Land Use Section of the NC Bar Association to consolidate and modernize the planning and land use provisions of Chapter 160A (cities) and Chapter 153A (counties) into a single new Chapter 160D. That bill provided that Part 2 would become effective on 01/01/21.

Since the version of Chapter 160, which was enacted by Part 2 did not contain the provisions of Part 1 (as well as two of our other NCHBA 2019 enactments which amended provisions of the city and county planning and land laws), SB 355 directed the General Statutes Commission (GSC) to integrate these enactments into an updated version of Chapter 160D.

The GSC accomplished this task over several months earlier this year with the cooperation of interested parties and SB 720 was the result. For the most part, SB 720 is a technical correction bill which integrates existing law into this updated version of Chapter 160D. While the bill does contain several substantive language changes, they were the result of consensus. Two of the primary sponsors of last session’s bill, Senators Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake) signed on as co-sponsors of SB 720. The amended Chapter 160D became effective upon the Governor’s signature.

The key land-use reforms brought about by SB 355 include:

• Integrates Permit Choice Law with Vesting and Extends Protections to Landowner

• Prohibits third party rezoning down zoning petition

• Allows certain claims to be filed directly in Superior Court without going to Board of Adjustment

• No estoppel effect when landowner challenges an unlawful development condition

• Change Standard for Mandatory Attorneys’ Fees in Lawsuits Against Illegal Local Government Actions

• Limits Illegal Conditions on Conditional Zoning and in Special or Conditional Use Permits

• DOT Driveway Regulations Apply to City-Maintained State Roads

• Assure that State Building Code preempts inconsistent local

definitions Key Legislators: Senators Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson), Andy Wells (R-Catawba), Don Davis (D-Pitt) and Representative Ted Davis (R-New Hanover)

2. HB 873 (System Development Fee/ADU Sewer Permit); Session Law 2020-61

Another of our top session priorities, HB 873 amends the law to move the time for the payment of system development fees for subdivisions from plat recordation to the later of building permit application or when the water and sewer service is committed. The current requirement for payment at plat recordation requires significant working capital to pay for the fees for all of the lots in the subdivision despite the fact that the water/sewer availability may not be provided for years in the future. This positive change will help keep housing affordable by reducing upfront major costs and appropriately moves those payment of those fees to when the service is provided.

It further requires that proof must be provided of payment of these fees if the local government which collects the fees is different than the local government that issues the building permit. Furthermore, it makes it clear that the system development fee cannot be collected if previously paid at plat recordation unless the amount of capacity needed for that property has increased.

A second provision allows a property owner the same option to connect a sewer line to a detached accessory dwelling unit (ADU) as is the case for an attached ADU’s on the same lot. Currently, a special permit and engineer’s seal are required in order to pursue this option for detached ADU’s which is not required if the ADU is attached. Eliminating these requirements for detached ADUs will significantly reduce costs and thereby provide more affordable housing across the state. NCHBA worked closely with Senator Mike Woodard (D-Durham) on this important provision.

Key Legislators: Representatives DeanArp (R-Union), Jamie Boles (R-Moore) and Alan McNeill (R-Randolph); Senator Tom McInnis (R-Richmond),Andy Wells (R-Catawba) and Mike Woodard (D-Durham)

3. SB 704 (COVID-19 Recovery Act); Session Law 2020-3 HB1105 (Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0); Session Law 2020-97

SB 704 was enacted during the so-called “COVID-19 Session” held April 28-May 2, 2020. This new law contains numerous provisions designed to respond to the COVID crisis including those specifically sought, or supported, by NCHBA. They are:

• Extends the Effective Date of Chapter 160D from January 1, 2021, until August 1, 2021, to allow sufficient time to enact legislation to incorporate provisions of current law contained in NCHBA’s historic land-use regulatory legislation, and other NCHBA legislation, enacted during the 2019 session. This was accomplished by the subsequent passage of SB 720, as discussed above, thereby making Chapter 160D effective on June 19, 2020.

• Extends Certain Local Government Development Approvals for five (5) months for any development approval “that is current and valid at any point during the period beginning March 10, 2020, and ending April 28, 2020”. These development approvals include building permits, erosion and sedimentation control plans, sketch plans, preliminary plats, plats, phased development plans