TCC "in the KNOW" April 2015 Updates

North Carolina:

  • At least five bills focused on homeowners insurance, mostly with a pro-consumer slant, have been introduced in the state House and Senate. So far, however, all but one of the bills is still in committee; to remain alive, the others must be passed by at least one chamber by the April 30 crossover deadline.
  • HB 630 would require the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to research whether all the current Falls Lake environmental laws are necessary. It also would ask DENR to determine whether the SolarBee water circulators might clear the waters of Falls Lake, a water source for more than 500,000 people in Wake County.
  • More businesses in North Carolina would be required to use the E-Verify system to check the immigration status of workers they hired in legislation clearing one General Assembly chamber. The bill passed 80-39 in the House would lower the threshold for businesses to participate to those with at least five employees. It’s now 25. An exemption for some temporary employees is gone, although exceptions would be added for farm workers and independent contractors. Republican sponsor Rep. George Cleveland of Jacksonville said the bill’s result would bring another 110,000 employers under E-verify. Other bill supporters complained immigrants unlawfully in the country are draining services and keeping wages low. Democratic Rep. Ken Goodman of Rockingham opposed the measure. He said the requirement would impose a great burden upon some small businesses.
  • SB 285 – Dealing with Protest Petition changes has passed the House and is now in the Senate. This bill would require two-thirds vote of a City Council to approve a rezoning in which a protest petition has been filed. HB 201, which would end protest petitions, is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

Johnston County:

  • Johnston County residents could vote as early as next spring on whether to borrow more money for school-building needs. Superintendent
    Ed Croom on Tuesday hinted at a bond referendum in 2016 to pay for some of the $75.5 million in building projects the schools hope to tackle.

Wake County:

  • The number of permits issued for new housing units was up 10 percent in March compared to the year prior and up 5 percent compared to the month prior with 568 permits issued to builders in March, according to a report from Wake County Revenue Department.
  • The total permitting value of the new homes being built is 6 percent higher than it was a year ago with nearly $342 million worth of new home construction planned or underway across Wake County in the first quarter, or an average $235,000 per unit.
  • Home remodeling projects are also continuing to rise with 655 new remodeling or home addition permits issued in March with a total value of $18.9 million, or an average $28,900 per project. That's an increase of 15 percent in the number of remodeling permits and an increase of 34 percent in total permit value compared to the year before.

Apex:

  • Southwest Apex could soon be home to a new greenway as growth spreads out toward New Hill and Chatham County. At the town
    council’s meeting Tuesday, April 21, board members will consider adding the path to its long-range Bicycle, Pedestrian and Equestrian Plan. If approved, Little Beaver Creek Greenway would stretch between the new Apex Friendship High School campus and Barker Road, which
    are a few miles east of Jordan Lake and just north of the New Hill community.
  • Former Town Council Member Lance Olive has announced his candidacy for Apex Mayor. He says he plans to make business growth a major emphasis in his campaign, and he wants the town to be more ambitious in encouraging development. Apex Town Council Member Denise Wilkie has also announced she will run for mayor.

Cary:

  • Cary Towne Center’s request to allow three-story buildings at the mall prompted a mixture of responses from Cary residents Thursday
    in what was seen as the first step in a long process toward welcoming TopGolf, a Texas-based company that builds elaborate driving range/restaurant complexes.
  • Land Development Ordinance Text Amendments Round 31 (PL15-046) Conduct a public hearing for proposed Round 31 amendments to
    the Land Development Ordinance (LDO). Next Planning & Zoning meeting to discuss is May 18th. Final action by Town Council on June 25th.
  • Protest Petitions: Council members oppose N.C. Rep. Stam’s bill, which would end residents’ ability to push for a super-majority in rezoning cases.

Chapel Hill:

  • The Town Council is scheduled to hold a hearing that could include a discussion of possible changes to Northside’s Neighborhood Conservation District, or NCD. The town’s NCD zoning includes land-use and development rules tailored to specific neighborhoods in an effort to preserve existing characteristics. It’s particularly used in areas that contribute to the town’s identity but may not be historically, architecturally or culturally significant. The changes proposed for Northside include:
    • Allow up to 3,000 square feet and six parking spaces for affordable duplexes
    • No longer include half-baths in the two-bath limit
    • Increase the maximum size home for the largest lots – about 20 percent – from 1,750 square feet to 2,250 square feet
    • Reduce the cost and time to get building permits.
  • Six Chapel Hill residents have applied for the vacant Town Council seat. Kevin Hicks, Adam Jones, Paul Neebe, Michael Parker,
    Amy Ryan and Gary Shaw applied to serve the remainder of Matt Czajkowski’s term, which expires December 2015.
  • The Council will consider a resolution to explore putting bonds totaling $40.3 million on the November 2015 ballot. Focus areas of the bond include streets and sidewalks, trails and greenways, recreation facilities, a solid waste transfer station and stormwater improvements. The bond referendum would not require a tax increase because the Town’s Debt Fund has capacity to repay the debt with the existing dedicated tax. The bonds will fund projects identified from extensive planning in recent years including the Community Survey, The Bike Plan, Greenways Master Plan, Comprehensive Parks Plan and more.

Durham (City):

  • Planning commissioners and neighbors gave thumbs up last week to two “infill” projects on long-vacant lots, one at the Old Five Points intersection near downtown and the other on Duke Street north of Interstate 85. Rezonings to allow the projects – for the time called “North Mangum Residential” and “Circle K at Duke Street” – got the advisory commission’s recommendation for City Council approval, and words of welcome.

Morrisville:

  • Three Wake County senators filed a bill March 19 that would allow Morrisville to charge townhouse and apartment developers a fee to help the town acquire open space for parks and recreational uses. This bill addresses one of four issues the Morrisville Town Council identified as priorities during the current legislative session.

Raleigh:

  • Raleigh residents are invited to comment on the draft Downtown Experience Plan crafted by the City of Raleigh and Downtown Raleigh Alliance. Comments will be accepted through May 13. They will help establish achievable action items that will continue the transformation of Raleigh’s city center. Download a copy of the Draft Downtown Experience Plan
  • Development Maps Update: Under the new zoning designations, dense growth would be centered on areas like downtown, Hillsborough Street and Brier Creek in northwest Raleigh. Residential areas – including much of North Raleigh – wouldn’t see much of that urban development. Those areas would remain the same. In 2013, the city took on the task of overhauling the UDO, which supports a larger comprehensive plan that lays out a big-picture vision of how Raleigh will grow. The plan supports a more pedestrian-friendly city with a focus on transit hubs and dense, urban pockets.
  • The Raleigh City Council has approved changes to Part 10 of the City of Raleigh Zoning Code and Part 10A of the City’s Unified Development Ordinance. The changes approved April 7, add regulations for permanently-parked vehicles used as a sign, increase the allowance for window signs in the UDO and add window signage regulations to the Part 10 Code, expand the number of colors allowed in unified sign criteria from three (plus black and white) to seven (plus black and white), and clarify the regulations related to changeable copy signs.
    • New Vehicular Signs Requirements: The new regulations would require that permanently-parked vehicle signs be located at least 40 feet from the right-of-way. Vehicle signs on permanently-parked trailer or box truck type vehicles shall not be located within 100 feet of the right-of-way of any street.  Vehicle signs used in direct connection with the business and those permitted as part of an approved temporary event or vehicles are not subject to these provisions during the course of their normal business usage.
    • Additional colors allowed for Common Signage Plans: The change would increase the number of colors permitted for signage associated with a common signage plan. A maximum of seven (7) colors could be used in the common signage plan. Black, white
      and any color that matches the building wall may be added to these seven colors.
    • Window Signage: The amount of window signage permitted in the UDO was increased to 50 percent of the window area.
      The regulation for signage located in the window between four and seven feet above the sidewalk was removed.
      Corresponding regulations were placed in the Part 10 Zoning Code.
    • New Changeable Sign Definition: A changeable sign is a sign on which copy is changed manually or automatically and copy is
      shown on the same sign face such as reader boards with changeable letters or changeable pictorial panels but not limited to the above. Poster panels and painted boards are not changeable copy signs.
  • Moore Square Plan: Raleigh will host open houses from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, and from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at Market Hall in City Market, 215 Wolfe St. Residents also can weigh in from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. during First Friday on May 1 at Market Hall and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the City of Raleigh Museum, 220 Fayetteville St. Participate online at yourparksyourfuture.com.

 Wake Forest:

  • The Town of Wake Forest is continuously working to improve communication with their residents. Their commitment is grounded in Goal #2 of the town's strategic plan - "Enhance & Promote a Safe & Connected Community.” The town is using this survey to gather important information from you about how we communicate.