Raleigh, N.C. — The House gave final legislative approval Wednesday to a measure that would eliminate an avenue for residents to challenge nearby developments.
The 82-28 vote on House Bill 201 sends the proposal to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature or a veto, or he could allow it to become law without his signature.
The legislation eliminates protest petitions, a tool that neighbors use to slow down new developments or business construction near existing homes and businesses. Proponents of the change said the petitions make it too easy for a lone landowner or small group of landowners to block progress on a development project, while opponents said existing residents should have more of a say in how their neighborhood develops.
Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, implored House members to keep protest petitions in place, citing the example of north Raleigh residents who last year fended off a proposed shopping center at the entrance to their neighborhood.
"The protest petition, as it's now written, gives a group voice to our citizens who own property," Avila said, adding that developers usually have the ear of local officials.
Rep. Stephen Ross, R-Alamance, cited a case where residents held up a development in his county for 11 years. "This is wrong," he said.
Other lawmakers noted that overruling protest petitions now requires a three-fourths majority on city councils, which could mean six votes on a seven-member council. They said a simply majority vote would be more appropriate.
"I don't know how often you can get six members of a council to agree," said Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash.