Friday, July 12, 2013

Protest petitions going the way of buggy whips

If you've paid attention to Charlotte planning and zoning matters you know the powerful role that protest petitions have played in stopping rezonings that neighbors oppose. The N.C. legislature is moving rapidly toward eliminating protest petitions.

It's part of a larger bill that would remove a number of local environmental regulations that are stronger than state regulations. The bill passed the N.C. House on Thursday. ("Bill eliminates protest-petition rights in zoning cases") It now goes back to the N.C. Senate, which passed it without the protest petition section.

Here's a synopsis of the action, from the blog of Charlotte's Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition. It notes how many local legislators in both parties voted for the bill, which would, among other things, scrap a key local storm-water pollution ordinance. "House passes landmark regulatory reform package."

The protest petition is a 90-year-old section of state law that has let adjoining property owners file official protests against proposed rezonings. If enough of these protests are deemed valid, then that rezoning can't pass without a three-quarters vote from the elected body which in Charlotte is the City Council. In development-happy Charlotte, the provision occasionally means the defeat of rezonings that would otherwise pass, although the council OKs the overwhelming majority of proposed rezonings.

Here's an editorial from the Greensboro News & Record about the bill:

The editorial says: "... There was no chance for compromise, just a wholesale repeal with little warning.

"In principle, the action contradicts what the Republican legislature has done in regard to involuntary annexations. It has empowered affected residents to call for a referendum. This measure takes power from residents.

"But some developers don’t like protest petitions because it’s harder for them to advance projects that neighbors don’t want. They’re “costly and hinder development,” Rep. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg, said Thursday."

It's part of a bill that state planners are calling the "Billboards Forever" bill. Read this report from The Charlotte Observer's Jim Morrill:


keith brown said...

Protest petitions are still alive senate took out the repeal

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