Letter to NCDOT on Billboard Rulemaking

View the Letter Here (PDF) March 5, 2020 Hannah B. Jernigan, Rulemaking Program Manager NC Department of Transportation 1 South Wilmington Street Raleigh, NC 27601 (Delivered via email to rulemaking@ncdot.gov) RE: Proposed rulemaking changes to outdoor advertising Dear Ms. Jernigan, The North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association is a trade association representing over 1,400 local government planners and land use professionals who live and work in North Carolina. We are an organization that promotes equitable, healthy, and prosperous communities across North Carolina through professional planning, leadership, advocacy, and education. We are deeply opposed to the NCDOT’s consideration of rule changes that would allow existing outdoor advertising structures to be increased in height and converted to digital displays despite local regulations concerning these structures. Outdoor advertising devices have clear impacts on public safety, aesthetics, and land values. For these reasons, local governments adopt development regulations to help control these impacts. As you know, planning and land use control is highly political and very location‐specific. Local government leaders are charged with representing the views of their constituencies, which can be highly varied and nuanced. State mandates and preemption of local development control make it extraordinarily difficult for local government officials to execute the will of those that voted them into office. We have seen numerous proposed legislative changes from the outdoor advertising lobby of late – in fact, new legislation seeking taller heights, greater illumination, increased ability to clear vegetation, and increased local preemption has been proposed during every legislative session in recent memory. The bill proposed during the 2019 long session was ultimately vetoed by the Governor because...

Legislative Committee’s Strategic Plan

In 2012 the composition of the North Carolina General Assembly shifted and the legislative climate become more of a challenge for many groups, including APA-NC.  There were numerous bills intended to limit local government regulatory over-reach, and the speed with which these bills entered and exited Assembly review was unprecedented.   Despite our best efforts, the Legislative Committee’s attempts at being involved in discussion or having impact on proposed legislative content were largely ineffective.   In 2018 the Chapter resolved to reinvigorate the Legislative Committee and try to find a way to increase its effectiveness.  The first step in the process was submittal of an application for a grant from the Chapter Presidents’ Council of APA National to prepare a Strategic Plan for the Legislative Committee.  The grant was approved and the Committee began its work later that year. The plan identifies a vison statement for the Legislative Committee, its goals and objectives, and the actions to be undertaken by the Committee in pursuit of those goals.  Emphasis is placed on building positive relationships with legislators, advocating for beneficial legislation with our partners, helping members of the public recognize the value of planning, and assisting local governments in adapting to changing legislation.  The plan has a five-year horizon (until 2025), and will be supplemented by an annual work program (the 2020 work program is listed on Page 4 of the document, and is listed below). Item 1: Continue to track and report on pending legislation during twice-monthly chapter-wide conference calls (Actions 1A & 1C). Item 2: Start a legislation/legislator award for the annual APA-NC Awards Program (Action 2D). Item 3:...

2019 Annual APA Legislative Summit

On December 9th and 10th APA National conducted its 2019 State Legislative Summit in Richmond, Virginia.  The State Legislative Summit program is an opportunity for APA Chapter legislative and policy leaders to gather and discuss trends in state-level legislative issues.  This year’s summit focused on a brief discussion of current legislative issues and anticipated actions in 2020 from the 22 APA chapters in attendance. It also included sessions on the APA’s new Housing Policy Guide , and techniques on preparing and conducting an issue campaign.  Legislative experts from National APA discussed the range of legislative advocacy tools that are available to state chapters (such as digital action alert templates) as well as techniques for messaging to representatives and members of the public.   One of the most interesting and important topics of discussion was discussion of President’s Trump’s Executive Order 13878, “Establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.”  This executive order calls for the establishment of a White House Council on eliminating regulatory barriers to affordable housing and has resulted in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s issuing of a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comment on “land use requirements, and administrative practices that artificially raise the costs of affordable housing development and contribute to shortages in America’s housing supply.”  Read more here. We hope this is not the beginning of a federal charge to state governments to pre-empt local controls over housing that are perceived as regulatory barriers.  North Carolina local governments have some experience with state pre-emption in the form of limitations on design controls for one- and two-family residential structures.  It...

New York City Musings

Author: Roger Bardsley, AICP I recently returned from New York City (on 9/11 actually) after an enjoyable four-day visit.  I assume that most of you have been to the “Big Apple” which is certainly one of the distinctive cities in the U.S.  After being there I decided to write a blog about space.  I am doing my dissertation research on grid-form cities and may need to bore you with geek stuff before we continue. Manhattan was developed according to the plan of 1811 that laid out its familiar grid pattern.  The south end of the city was previously laid out by the Dutch and is not rectilinear.  At that time, as was true as other cities in the U.S. developed, there were three “spaces”, the street, the sidewalk and private property.  The buildings generally started right behind the sidewalk, so there was no front setback, and the public/private line was clearly delineated.  This is important – these spaces have essentially not changed since 1811. What has changed is the allocation of space.  Between 1811 and perhaps 1910, the street belonged to horses and horse-drawn vehicles (the horse poop space) while the sidewalks were for pedestrians.  Speed was not as much of an issue then as it is today.  Buggies travel at about 5 mph, which is higher than walking speed, but still not difficult to avoid.  By 1910 motor vehicles began to appear in numbers and created, at the time, significant issues.  Motor vehicles were a bit faster than horses and were made of steel so that an impact with one could cause injury or death. I am going to...

Great Places 2019 Winners

Professional’s Category: Great Street Rail Trail, Charlotte The Charlotte Rail Trail is not really a street, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. The aptly named Rail Trail is two and a half miles of asphalt and concrete pathway running parallel to the LYNX Blue Line light rail corridor as it passes through South End, one of Charlotte’s most dynamic neighborhoods. The evolution of the Rail Trail over the last dozen years is directly tied to the remarkable transformation of the South End neighborhood from a gritty warehousing and industrial district into one of the hottest residential neighborhoods in the South. Charlotte’s Rail Trail is a place for free expression and experimentation. Artists and makers have practically free reign to use the trail to display artwork, sculpture, and installations intended for the enjoyment of Trail users, with little or no official interference. Like all great streets, the Rail Trail is multi-functional. Aside from being a transportation facility and neighborhood gathering place, the Rail Trail is South End’s most prominent public common open space, a linear neighborhood park in an area sorely lacking in such places. It is a place where residents gather to meet up with friends, people watch, and see and be seen. The Charlotte Rail Trail is, by any measure, now the center of the South End neighborhood.   Professional’s Category: Great Street in the Making Queen Street, Kinston Queen Street in Kinston was once a thriving downtown street, a wide thoroughfare with entertainment and restaurants, but this city, like many others, felt the loss of the tobacco industry in the region and has...

San Antonio Riverwalk

Roger Bardsley, AICP I’m sure most of you in the planning profession have been to San Antonio and visited its famous Riverwalk. The success of this downtown amenity, which dates to 1939, has inspired a number of imitations, and comments by visiting city leaders who say they wished they had a river in their communities. I had not been to San Antonio and decided to see what I had been missing.  As is often the case, the “story” is much more complex and interesting than it appears on the surface.  The Riverwalk that most tourists visit is a very short stretch of the river through downtown, plus the horseshoe bend section, and a manmade canal off the bend dug for the 1968 Hemisfair, plus a 1980s canal addition that ends at the Riverwalk mall.  These waterways are served by electric-powered “barges” that take tourists on narrated tours. In 2009 the city completed the “Museum Reach” of the Riverwalk north to the Pearl district, and in 2011 completed “Mission Reach” to the south.  The Museum Reach is like the original Riverwalk, heavily hardscaped and landscaped and reminded me of a Disney World jungle ride. Barges go as far as the Pearl district, and pass through a small lock and dam.  The river goes another mile or so north to Brackenridge Park and its headwaters. The river path is not continuous beyond the Pearl district, but probably will be completed some time in the near future. The Mission Reach is actually a modern greenway through a natural bottomland environment and leads users to four of the five missions on the San...
X