Senate gives final approval to regulatory changes, protest petition repeal

Posted July 2, 2015

— The Senate on Thursday passed two controversial measures, sending both back to the House for a final vote.

Without any debate, senators voted 39-10 in favor of repealing 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. Opponents said existing residents should have more of a say in how their neighborhood develops.

The Senate voted 31-17 for legislation that would change a wide swath of environmental, business and government regulations.

The 54-page omnibus, which would roll back regulations on air quality, water quality, stormwater runoff, permitting and recycling, was unveiled Sunday night, replacing a one-page bill dealing with gravel trucks, and it quickly drew opposition from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

A series of changes made Wednesday scaled back the impact of the bill enough to win DENR support, and sponsor Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford, rolled out another amendment Thursday that tweaked the bill further.

The latest changes would prohibit dumping old computer equipment and televisions in landfills or burning them in incinerators. Although the bill still repeals the state requirement on recycling computers and TVs, the amendment effectively eliminates other options for disposing of them.

The bill also still would make it easier for the state to have its legal fees paid for by the losing party when it wins a court challenge to its actions, Wade's amendment would limit that to challenges to property improvements and issuing permits based on environmental impact.


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