By a vote of 39 – 10, the North Carolina Senate this morning approved HB 201, ‘Zoning Changes/Citizen Input’, which would repeal the North Carolina Protest Petition statute and eliminate a tool frequently used by neighborhood groups to force concessions from property owners and developers. The bill will go back to the House in mid-July for a concurrence vote, and then to the Governor’s desk, where Pat McCrory has indicated he WILL sign the legislation.
HB 201 would eliminate a longstanding state law allowing neighbors in the immediate vicinity of a proposed development to force the applicant to secure a supermajority of affirmative votes from the city or town council for rezoning approval. If as few as 5 percent of the neighbors within 100′ of the property line sign and submit a valid Protest Petition to the local planning department, they can obtain enough leverage to force financial or design concessions from the property owner or developer that would otherwise be difficult if just a simple majority vote were required for the rezoning.
No other action taken by local government action requires a supermajority vote.
The House approved the legislation in late March by an 81 – 31 margin, and is expected to concur with the bill when it comes back to the chamber sometime after the General Assembly’s July recess.
Much credit is due to the North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA), which led the fight for this legislation, as well as NAIOP North Carolina, the Apartment Association of North Carolina, and the Charlotte Commercial Board of Realtors®, whose members provided much-needed support.