NC Law to Give Municipalities More Say Over Land Planning

Wed September 01, 2004 - Southeast Edition

RALEIGH, NC (AP) A new state law poised to take effect in October would give local governments more say over how UNC-system campuses and other state agencies develop land within a community.

The bill would give municipalities zoning authority over state construction that could include a new parking lot, athletic field, airplane runway or utility corridor.

Most municipalities already have some regulatory authority over projects that include buildings.

The legislation also eliminates language that previously required the Council of State or someone else it designates to review any city plans that include state land in an overlay district or special-use district.

The changes were placed in a “technical corrections” approved in the final days before the General Assembly adjourned last month.

The new regulations could cost the University at North Carolina at Chapel Hill “six figures on an annual basis with all the zoning compliance permits, paperwork and additional time,” said Bruce Runberg, an associate vice chancellor for planning and construction.

“We believe it will have a significant impact on us,” Runberg said.

Diana Steel, a Chapel Hill resident with property next to a large UNC-CH campus housing construction project, is pleased if the new law means town officials and the community could have more input into campus projects.

“Somebody seems to be paying good attention to livability,” Steele said. “So much damage can be done in disturbing land, clear-cutting, leveling. …Some of the biggest eyesores are leveled and/or paved without any structure.”

Runberg said university planners typically seek the informal review and advice of town planners before moving forward with most construction.

The bill language came from a separate measure introduced last year by Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, with the stated intent to “clarify, simplify and modernize city and county planning and land-use management authority.”

In Raleigh, where the state owns a lot of property, city leaders “generally have a pretty good relationship” with state government and North Carolina State University, assistant city manager Dan Howe said.

For the city, it’s always good to a least have a dialogue with the state when a project is planned,” Howe said. “That’s probably a good thing.”