Please Oppose HB304/SB320 – “The Billboard Bill”

HB 304/SB 320 is the third attempt in as many years by the billboard industry to make sweeping changes to the current rules for outdoor advertising uses (billboards). This legislation limits the state’s ability to regulate billboards, requires taxpayers to pay more for removal of an existing billboard, binds the General Assembly to preservation of billboards, and allows the conversion of over 5,000 billboards to new digital signs statewide. The proposed legislation is opposed by the League of Municipalities, the NC Planning Association, the NC Sierra Club, and Scenic North Carolina. It is also strongly opposed by 68% of NC voters surveyed by Scenic North Carolina in early April, 2015. We ask that legislators protect the scenic beauty of North Carolina, protect local authority to determine community appearance, and protect our tax payers from increased costs. KEY FEATURES OF THE LEGISLATION 1. Billboards Gain Unprecedented Authority to Remain and Relocate The bill includes new policy language that requires the General Assembly to preserve and foster outdoor advertising. The NCDOT could no longer deny a billboard permit application because it does not comply with local development regulations, nor could it deny a permit for a billboard proposed outside a commercial or industrial area (under the bill’s proposed “customary use” doctrine). Neither the NCDOT nor a local government could deny the ability of an existing billboard to relocate to a more visible area in the same city or county, even if the proposed location has significant tree cover. NCDOT would be required to decide all new billboard permit applications within 30 days, or they are automatically approved. 2. More Intensive Advertising...

Contacting Your Representatives

Written by Chad Meadows January 14 is the opening day of the 2015 Legislative Session. Hopefully, 2015 will be a better year for land use planning in North Carolina. Rest assured the Legislative Committee will be keeping a close eye on the Legislature and keeping the chapter membership informed about pending legislation and advocating for sound planning practices across the state – but we can’t do it alone. This year, as in years past, we may call on you and other planners to make contact with your representatives in the Legislature and ask them to consider how proposed legislation may affect our ability to plan for the citizens of our state. There is nothing more powerful to a state representative than correspondence or communication from a constituent – particularly an informed constituent. While the Legislative Committee works on bills from a statewide perspective, representatives especially want to hear from folks who live or work in their district. Local planners play a key role in our advocacy efforts by contacting their representatives directly through letter, email, phone, and even face-to-face visits to express support or disapproval for specific legislation. This outreach is most effective when it is backed by compelling information, local examples of impacts, and well-reasoned conclusions (all trademarks of planners). The Legislative Committee would like to call on you for assistance towards our common goals by reaching out to your representatives when needed. You can check the legislative tab of the APA-NC webpage to find tools on finding out who your representatives are and how to contact them. We also attach the following suggestions for effective outreach and...

Assembly Line

Written by Chad Meadows APA-NC’s response to draft changes to Chapter 160A/153A NCGS. Hello NC Planners!  We at the Legislative Committee hope your holidays are going well. About two months ago, a series of land use attorneys began working with the North Carolina Bar Association to prepare revisions to portions of Chapter 160A and 153A. The idea was to simplify the state planning statutes, make them easier to read, and remove many of the current inconsistencies in the language. Copies of the proposed changes were sent to all local government attorneys across the state, and can be read and downloaded here. Several North Carolina planners have reviewed the draft changes from the NC Bar Association, and their comments have been sent to the NC Bar Association drafters for consideration. A copy of the memorandum can be seen here. A HUGE thank you to all the planners who contributed time and comments to this effort! Please note that the NC Bar Association is accepting comments on its proposed changes through December 31, 2014, so please feel free to forward any additional comments you may have directly to them. Feel free to contact me at chad@codewright.info if you need their contact information. The next step in the process is for the NC Bar Association drafters to work through the comments they receive and prepare a revised version of the proposed changes.  We expect the revised changes to be incorporated into a bill for consideration by the General Assembly in the 2015 session.  Rest assured we will be paying close attention to the bill’s language and progress, and will keep the chapter membership apprised of...

Assembly Line – APA’s Legislative Summary

Written by Chad Meadows, AICP Legislative Committee Chairman 2014 was another difficult year for planning at the General Assembly. This year’s short session, like the long session in 2013, was fraught with rapid fire legislative proposals, complex catch-all omnibus bills, tax reforms that spell the end to several revenue sources, and a budget that cost several state planners their jobs. The following list summarizes key planning-related legislation that passed the General Assembly in 2014. This post also includes some details on the legislation that didn’t pass (but may be back in 2015) Bill #: Title/Description Summary S865 – Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction ETJ authority removed from Boone (and Weaverville). H1050 – Privilege Licenses Local governments can levy privilege license taxes for the rest of FY 2014 (and the amount may not exceed the amount charged in 2013). After FY 2014 ends, privilege license taxes will no longer be authorized. S734 – Vested Rights (Choice Provision) In cases where an applicant submits an application and the regulation changes after submittal but before a decision is made, a local government must allow the applicant to choose which rules they wish to follow. Does not apply to “zoning” permits, but does apply to subdivision rules and any development regulations housed outside the zoning code. S786 – Environmental Omnibus (Fracking) Allows the state Energy Commission to override local development regulations if the Commission finds the local regulations prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting oil and gas exploration/production. S402 (Budget) – Historic Preservation Tax Credits/Film Industry Incentives Current historic preservation tax credits (20% tax credit match from NC) & film industry incentives (25% refund) will sunset at the end of 2014....
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