January 23, 2018

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Hous[ing] or Hous[ton]: North Carolina House Passes Legislation "Clarifying" Limits to Municipal Zoning Powers

We blogged last week here about North Carolina House Bill 150, entitled "An Act to Clarify When a County or Municipality May Enact Zoning Ordinances Related to Design and Aesthetic Controls".  The purpose of the Act is to "clarify" that local governments in North Carolina do not have the power under zoning enabling legislation to regulate the look of homes.  

The Act provides that a local government -- whether county or municipality -- is unable to control the following with respect to residences: exterior building color; type or style of exterior cladding material; style or materials of roof structures or porches; exterior nonstructural architectural ornamentation; location or architectural styling of windows and doors, including garage doors; the number and types of rooms; and the interior layout of rooms.  Under the Act, local governments in North Carolina would not be able to regulate these things through the zoning power.  Wait.  Maybe we mean to say that local governments in North Carolina are not now able to regulate these things through the zoning power, and the Act is the belt to the suspenders that is the zoning law as it already exists.

The Act excludes from the prohibition (i) the height, bulk, orientation, or location of a structure on a zoning lot; and (ii) the use of buffering or screening to minimize visual impacts, to mitigate the impacts of light and noise, or to protect the privacy of neighbors.  Under the Act, it appears that local governments in North Carolina would still have the ability to regulate these aspects of land use pursuant to the zoning power.  

The House of the North Carolina General Assembly has passed a version of House Bill 150, which will now go to vote in the Senate chamber of the General Assembly.  The "passed" version of the Bill can be found here

We will continue to monitor this proposed legislation, which has been generally panned by local governments and supported by homebuilders, both with some fury

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About this Author

Michael C Thelen, Womble Carlyle, Real Estate Litigation Attorney, Entitlement Negotiations Lawyer

Mike represents myriad clients – from Fortune 500® companies to smaller, privately-owned organizations – in cross sections of business throughout the many stages of federal and state litigation.  From his years of practice in New York and North Carolina, Mike primarily has experience in the areas of land use, local/municipal government law and real estate litigation, having handled zoning, development agreement, land use planning, eminent domain and condemnation, construction, retail and commercial landlord-tenant, partnership dissolution, state law torts, and civil fraud matters, to list...