Cities in North Carolina should control their own zoning
For 100 years, towns and cities in North Carolina have managed the growth and development of their communities through the passage of local zoning ordinances. These ordinances were all drafted with broad community input and adopted by the local town and city councils directly accountable to those concerned.
However, a bill currently pending in the General Assembly (HB 401 / SB 349) will put an abrupt end to this long history of local self-government by imposing a universal and unprecedented definition of housing – family quarters throughout the country. ‘State.
Masked in the language of “affordable housing”, this bill would allow any property zoned for residential use to be used for the construction of duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes or townhouses, regardless of the impact on homes that surround it. There is, however, one important exception to this new rule.
If you live in a gated community or a neighborhood governed by an HOA, your neighborhood is specifically exempt from several aspects of this bill.
If, however, you do not live in one of these communities, your right to peaceful enjoyment of your property depends entirely on how long your neighbors are willing to hold out against the builders who will undoubtedly be picking up so much. these properties as they can.
The irony, of course, is that the people who this bill apparently benefits will be the ones who will be most affected by its passage, especially since there is nothing in this bill. which really deals with the affordability of housing.
Indeed, it is pushing to demolish old houses in low and middle income neighborhoods and replace them with luxury high density townhouses. At the same time, this bill does nothing more than cuff the ability of local government to deal with the entirely predictable crash in traffic and overcrowding that it will inevitably create.
This will lead to an uncontrollable explosion of density in every nook and cranny of our towns and villages, pushing our infrastructure, which is already under enormous stress, even further to breaking point.
It doesn’t have to be, and Belmont is a prime example. Within the framework of its existing zoning authority, Belmont already explicitly considers and encourages both housing choice and economic diversity as part of every land use planning decision submitted to city council, and we are not the only one. city to do so.
Additionally, in the past three months alone, the Town of Belmont, Habitat for Humanity and private developers have all come together to make Dixon Village a pioneering mixed-use housing development.
Cities and towns in North Carolina already operate under some of the strictest land use planning regulations in the entire state of the country. Further hampering the ability of local governments to meet the unique needs of their communities by adding to the mountain of rules and regulations we face is likely to trigger an avalanche of unintended consequences in a state as large and diverse as ours.
If our lawmakers are serious about encouraging more affordable housing, they just have to step aside. We need more flexibility to meet the ever-changing needs of our cities.
We need more authority to apply creative solutions to our most intractable problems.
And we need more freedom from the central planning that so often emanates from Raleigh. The solution to our affordable housing problem is more likely to be found in locally designed solutions such as Dixon Village than in the top Raleigh mandates.
HB 401 / SB 349 is a radical and unprecedented usurpation of the local planning and land use planning authority that will cause serious damage to our neighborhoods, our municipalities and our state.
We must all do our part to end the danger this bill poses to our dearest communities and to the biggest investment most of us will ever make, our home.
Marc Seelinger is a member of the Belmont City Council.