From: "Martin, Lisa" <LMartin@nchba.org
Date: June 23, 2014 at 4:29:03 PM EDT
To: "'Rep. Adams'" <email@example.com
Subject: Please Retain Sect. 2.7 of S 493 (Protest Petition Repeal)
Dear Representatives Moffitt and Murry, Vice Chairs and Members:
S 493 2014 Regulatory Reform Act<http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2013&BillID=s+493&submitButton=Go> will be before the House Regulatory Reform Committee tomorrow (6/24) for consideration. The NC Home Builders Association strongly supports this bill. In order to add clarity to the misinformation that has been spread regarding Section 2.7 Repeal Protest Petitions, we offer the following information.
Protest petitions are authorized for all cities in NC (there is no protest petition authority for counties). Filing of a protest petition may be done when a person owns only a small portion of the area surrounding a municipal rezoning tract. Sufficient signatures on the petition elevate the city council vote requirement from a simple majority to a super-majority (75%) before the rezoning ordinance adoption is allowed.
Protest petitions have been in the NC statues since the 1920s and were conceived in an era that was pre-information age to address the issue of informing the public of pending land use changes. Planning laws and practices have changed since then. Strict laws require notice of rezonings to neighbors and the public, including signs on the property, mailings to neighbors within a certain distance, electronic notification and publication in common news outlets. Most developers meet with neighbors (often because they are either required or strongly encouraged to by the city or town). Concerns are addressed, compromises made and some applications are withdrawn. Most cities have made Conditional Use zonings (by far the majority of cases in NC) a legislative process to allow neighboring property owners to have more involvement in the rezoning process.
Protest petitions are a NIMBY’s dream (NIMBY= Not in My Backyard). Modern growth management principles promote infill, redevelopment, higher densities and mixed uses. Protest petitions present an unnecessary and sometimes impossible hurdle for project approval, even though Conditional Use zoning and modernized land development ordinance requirements incorporate techniques to minimize and mitigate impacts to surrounding properties. There is no power granted to citizens greater than the power bestowed by the protest petition. With a protest petition, one person can take away an entire city’s right to have a zoning decision decided by majority vote. Protest petitions do not represent the citizen “David” against the developer “Goliath”. Neighborhood groups and those supporting the use of protest petitions as a planning tool refuse to acknowledge the many instances when protest petitions are used to deny a rezoning that is recommended by a professional planning staff, consistent with the adopted growth plan and even identical to the zoning on adjacent lots. Developers may win or lose; however, the only "winner" is the neighbor with unilateral power to alter the manner in which duly elected officials can transact the public’s business.
Municipal protest petition authority is an unfair and outdated concept and must be repealed! Please retain Section 2.7 of S 493.
Lisa D. Martin
Director of Government Affairs
North Carolina Home Builders Association
5580 Centerview Drive, Suite 415
Raleigh, NC 27606
919-676-9090 or 800-662-7129