Politics & Government

Bill curbing cities’ ability to set design standards heads to McCrory

A bill that would bar cities from regulating the type or color of home siding and other design features is on its way to Gov. Pat McCrory after passing the House Tuesday.

The House voted 98-17 for SB 25, which had already passed the Senate.

The bill was supported by real estate and building industry groups and opposed by the N.C. League of Municipalities, which sought unsuccessfully to change it.

The measure applies to one- and two-family dwellings, though not those in designated historic districts.

Supporters said it protects homeowners from overzealous regulators.

“We do believe this bill is a balanced approach,” said Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Wake County Republican. “This bill helps homeowners have the homes that they want, and it helps to make those homes more affordable.”

But critics said it would stop cities and towns from trying to preserve neighborhood character and protect homeowners from incompatible development.

The League of Municipalities sought to amend the bill by exempting infill housing and established neighborhoods from the ban on design controls.

“Since the beginning of the legislative session, the League and its 540 member cities and towns had offered reasonable, compromise language that was focused on development in existing neighborhoods,” said Scott Mooneyham, an official with the League. “The result of today’s vote will be fewer protections from incompatible development for existing homeowners…”

Other critics argued that the state was usurping the authority of local government.

“What we’re doing here is again playing the role of big government to override the concerns of local government,” Rep. Paul Luebke, a Durham Democrat, told colleagues.

But Democratic Rep. Rick Glazier of Fayetteville said there was little public interest in regulating home color. “Too many cities and municipalities have gone too far,” he said.

The bill ended up with bipartisan support: 28 Democrats joined 97 Republicans in support. The bill passed the Senate 43-7 in April.

Its sponsors included Republican Sen. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius and Democratic Sen. Joel Ford of Charlotte.

Morrill: 704-358-5059