Senate Bill 704 — Careful Aim But Narrow Miss

On May 4th the N.C. legislature passed Senate Bill 704 (Session Law 2020-3) to address a broad array of problems created by COVID-19. Bill section 4.31(a) amended the Emergency Management Act to add new section 166A-19-24 to authorize local governments to conduct remote meetings during declarations of emergency. Although the detailed procedural requirements create traps […]

Returning to “Normal” Public Hearings – Doing it Right

This past Thursday I appeared before the Asheboro City Council in a quasi-judicial hearing for a conditional use permit. The city’s new template for safe hearings is worth other governments’ consideration. No more than 10 people were allowed in chambers at one time. Only the mayor and four council members – enough for a quorum […]

Moving to Virtual Public Hearings — Lessons Learned

Kudos to the City of Greensboro for boldly keeping land use development projects moving through the approval pipeline despite local and State stay-at-home orders. Last week, while sitting in my living room, I “appeared” before the Greensboro Zoning Commission on behalf of a developer of a 193-acre industrial project. The following night I “appeared” before […]

Coronavirus and the Hospitalization of Participatory Government

In younger days I traveled through African game lands in Uganda and explored an Amazon tributary in Bolivia. Both times I was confronted with the ironic fact that it’s easier to protect yourself against the large, loud, dangerous things you can see than the small things you cannot. If you’re going to be sidelined or […]

Rezoning the World’s Most Expensive Trailer Park

Last week I caught a story on one of my many news feeds. The fact that it came out of California – and the Napa Valley – makes it even more interesting, because it shows how much Silicon Valley titans will pay to spend a night in a trailer park. It also illustrates how, in […]

Protest Petitions Revisited

It appears that my previous post (Protest Petitions Killed . . . Finally) was premature. The NC House did vote overwhelmingly to repeal G.S. 160A-385 which grants unelected citizens a unique power to control the decision-making authority of a city council engaged in routine rezonings. However, the Senate refused to accept this amendment (called a […]

Legislative Update – Protest Petitions Killed . . . Finally

In an unexpected move the NC House voted last Thursday to repeal the statute that allows citizens to file protest petitions which frustrate a city’s ability to rezone land except upon a favorable 75 percent majority vote. The decision saw little debate, and the N.C. League of Municipalities, whose members were evenly split on the […]

Boards of Adjustment and Chinese Pigs

Two interesting things happened today. The first is obviously related to land use and the second is . . . obviously related to land use. First, this morning the N.C. Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved a “PCS” (proposed committee substitute) for the Board of Adjustment bill that unanimously passed the House 119-0. The changes are […]

Is it Really the Zoning? Or Do You Just Not Like “Those People”?

            As a quarter-century veteran of land use battles in every corner of this state there’s little I haven’t heard.  But this much I know. What people think is often not reflected in what they say at the public podium.               And being a veteran Southerner in my mid-fifties, I have decently honed skills in […]

Harry Potter and the Zoning Board

             In case you haven’t seen the news articles, Harry Potter series author, J.K. Rowling, had to get permission from the Edinburgh City Council to construct a couple of tree houses for her children amidst a deluge of protests from neighbors.  I’ve enjoyed several articles on this guerre du jour because it illustrates how a […]

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