@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

House bill limits local efforts to control home appearance

Posted March 13, 2013

— North Carolina cities and towns would have less authority to control home appearance and design under a bill approved Wednesday by a House committee.

House Bill 150 passed the Regulatory Reform Subcommittee on Local Government on a voice vote and was sent to the House floor.

The bill addresses municipal efforts to use zoning to dictate architectural design and aesthetic details of single-family homes and duplexes, said sponsor Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake.

"It's mind-boggling to me that we've gotten to this point," Dollar said, noting some locales go so far as to specify "what shade of beige the cornice is on your home."

The bill "balances the scales" between local control and home builders' efforts to provide a range of housing options for prospective buyers, he said, adding that subdivisions could still adopt covenants governing the appearance of homes in a particular neighborhood.

The proposal pits real estate interests against local governments, and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain were among those who spoke against the bill during the committee hearing.

McFarlane at legislature House panel reins in local housing design rules

McFarlane said Raleigh has developed zoning regulations in response to community requests, with the overarching goals of continued growth and providing affordable housing. The city wants to control things like the placement of bedrooms and bathrooms within homes, she said, to ensure rooming houses don't sprout up in single-family neighborhoods.

Swain said Huntersville has provided home builders with some flexibility in terms of setbacks and lot sizes. In exchange, she said, the town wants to have some control over design so that new projects blend with existing neighborhoods.

Representatives of the building supply industry and real estate agents said the municipal regulations drive up the cost of housing by creating artificial barriers that must be overcome.

"Homeowners lose the ability and, quite frankly, their right to choose the design elements of their home as it fits their individual needs and desires," said Mark Zimmerman, legislative chairman of the North Carolina Association of Realtors.

The North Carolina Housing Coalition, a nonprofit that represents Habitat for Humanity and other groups working to expand affordable housing statewide, agreed with the builders that aesthetic controls lead to more expensive housing.

Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe, said the bill boils down to the fact that local zoning authority is clearly spelled out in state law and that some cities are trying to stretch the rules.

"They can't add to our legislation," Jordan said. "We've been very clear about what they can do."

73 Comments

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 18, 1:56 p.m.

    @puzzled, @rocket asked about my comment that “they hold religious groups to the same standards as those of us who actually pay taxes.”

    Religions don’t have to follow the same laws as the rest of us (e.g. don’t pay taxes). And ask anyone in a Residential neighborhood who had a church come in, bypass all building & zoning laws, & plunk down their Commercial operation.

    Imagine that the Mormons bought houses & property next to your nneighborhood home, stripped it all down, put in a huge asphalt parking lot, and erected an magnificent building topped with an 80’ tall, gold-plated spire. There is *nothing* neighbors can do about it.

    In fact, when (tax-paying) neighbors try to hold (free-loading) churches to the same standards as themselves, churches run to the government (that they don’t pay for) and file for even more “special rights” legislation, just so they don’t have to “do unto others”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Land_Use_and_Institutionalized_Pe

  • mswayze Mar 15, 7:11 p.m.

    "Does this mean I can put a toilet flower pot in my front yard? Thanks Nelson Dollar!"
    cvdurham
    I would think so, but you really should ask your neighbors first. I hope its for flowers,etc. and is clean.
    You'd like my greenhouse front porch (sunny side- the back deck too. ) Follow the code- the electric stuff has is more than it used to be.
    My neighbor ever puts up for sale they would only need ask for a quick cleanup- (Urban farmer wannabe that I am- How bout a beefaloe on an acre?)

  • whatelseisnew Mar 13, 6:01 p.m.

    "wow government in Raleigh is better at runing communities than the locally elected officials. what happened to their tea party idea of smaller government"

    Lefties have had firm control of Raleigh for a very long time. That is why the people their are taxed through the nose and for some reason put up with having the city tell them where they can go to the bathroom.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 13, 6:00 p.m.

    "The proposal pits real estate interests against local governments, and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain were among those who spoke against the bill during the committee hearing.

    McFarlane said Raleigh has developed zoning regulations in response to community requests, with the overarching goals of continued growth and providing affordable housing. The city wants to control things like the placement of bedrooms and bathrooms within homes, she said, to ensure rooming houses don't sprout up in single-family neighborhoods."

    The city has no business telling anyone where they can put a bathroom in their home. Why are lefties such fascists?

  • ConservativeVoter Mar 13, 5:24 p.m.

    For those from NY who don't like living with us "country bumpkins".

    Take US-64 East to I-95 and go north.

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

  • rand321 Mar 13, 4:32 p.m.

    wow government in Raleigh is better at runing communities than the locally elected officials. what happened to their tea party idea of smaller government

  • floydthebarber Mar 13, 4:23 p.m.

    90% of these houses built are junk with no character anyway so I applaud these zoning changes. Not every city is careful like Raleigh with cohesive zoning ordinances. It's better to give people choice. If a neighborhood wants to look cohesive that's their prerogative not the governments!

  • kikinc Mar 13, 4:20 p.m.

    Actually, those of us who left NY came to NC to get away from the nonsense that was going on in NY. And we're definitely not all liberal. Most people I know from Cary are from New England, and not NY. I don't understand the hatred of people just because they're from NY, or anywhere up North for that matter. Sure, some ex-Northerners aren't exactly the nicest people, but to group us all together is ignorant. I don't go around thinking every Southerner is a complete country bumpkin.

  • wral mods blow close my account Mar 13, 4:19 p.m.

    Does this mean I can put a toilet flower pot in my front yard? Thanks Nelson Dollar!

  • ConservativeVoter Mar 13, 4:19 p.m.

    "towns, cities, and counties grow. get over it.
    oakcity"

    Not always.

    Detroit has gone from 2.5 million to .5 million due to all of the people going south after the unions bankrupted the auto industry.

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