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State & Local Updates December 2019

Posted By: Dustin Engelken Government Affairs ,

STATE

  • State lawmakers concluded business for the year on Friday, November 15, and will not return to session until January 14, 2020.

  • The legislature passed the DOT Cash and Accountability Act, which addresses the current cash flow shortage at the Department of Transportation (DOT) that has threatened to derail hundreds of road projects and jeopardize thousands of jobs. DOT cited increased costs due to hurricane-related road repairs and slow federal reimbursements for road damage costs. In an average year, DOT spends around $65 million on storm damage road repair; however, this year they have spent nearly $300 million. DOT has also spent $311 million defending the controversial Map Act, which prevents landowners from developing property in areas where future highway projects are planned. The legislature has repealed the Map Act. The bill forgives a $90 million loan from the General Fund and allows the Department to increase their $300 million Build NC bond to $400 million. The bill also includes a $100 million transfer from the General Fund to the Department, with $36 million of that going towards disaster relief. The bill establishes the Transportation Emergency Reserve to be used for future declared disasters and includes an initial $64 million appropriation, with the goal of the Department building the fund up to a $125 million balance. In addition to giving DOT access to additional money, the bill directs the State Auditor to conduct a performance audit of the Department, and adds additional reporting requirements, including a weekly cash watch report. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk.

  • The legislature approved a nearly $230 million disaster relief package to help assist with the recovery efforts from Hurricanes Mathew, Florence, and Dorian. Around $121.5 million of the bill is used for various matching requirements for drawing down federal funds. The bill also contains funds to prepare for future storms with flood mapping and water level monitors. $15 million is appropriated to assist local governments with cash flow needs in the form of grants and loans. The Golden L.E.A.F. Foundation also receives $15 million under the bill to be used to assist local governments and non-profit organizations in their recovery efforts. The bill contains various appropriations to government entities that sustained damage during the storms.

  • Senate Bill 578 reduces the franchise tax rate from $1.50 to $0.96 per $1,000 of tax value over two years. The rate will be $1.29 in 2021 and $0.96 in 2022. Electric utility companies will continue to pay the $1.50 rate until 2027. The bill also reduces the qualifying expense threshold for awards from the Film and Entertainment Grant Fund. This section also specifies that the grant is a binding agreement and not subject to appropriations by the General Assembly. This bill also ran into problems in the House Finance Committee after failing to receive a favorable report. The bill was moved to the House Rules Committee where it was approved and sent to the floor. The bill received criticism from some Republicans, who do not like the film grant, and many Democrats who feared that the franchise tax cuts would reduce the funds available for other government priorities, like education and state employee pay raises. The bill was approved on largely party lines in both chambers. Gov. Cooper vetoed the bill.

REGIONAL

DURHAM COUNTY

  • Durham County Commissioner Ellen Reckhow announced that she has decided not to run for reelection in 2020. Reckhow, who was first elected in 1988 and served as chair during Durham’s significant transformation and growth, fondly reflected on her major accomplishments during her time in office.

  • The City and County are beginning work on a new Comprehensive Plan – the community’s vision for shaping Durham’s future growth – and a new Transit Plan. Get more information.

ORANGE COUNTY

  • The Orange County Department of Housing and Community Development is soliciting Request for Proposals from qualified individuals and planning consulting firms to provide professional services in the preparation of the Orange County HOME Consortium’s Five-Year Consolidated Plan, Annual Action Plan, and Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice. Specifically, this RFP is for the community engagement portion of the Plan to include the planning, coordination, and execution of numerous community meetings, surveys and webinars and the qualitative data collection and analysis required to achieve full community engagement for preparation of the Plan. The specific services requested by Orange County are detailed in the Request for Proposals. Copies also may be obtained from the Department of Housing and Community Development, 300 W. Tryon Street, 3rd Floor, Hillsborough NC 27278, during normal business hours. It is also available electronically by submitting a request to esutton@orangecountync.gov

CARY

  • Cary’s new 311 system- This will allow our citizens a one-stop location for information and allow the town to collect data points to understand where there are issues. The system will be available to the public on January 2 and can be accessed by phone, email, web, text, and social media. Staff will assess the new system in the spring of next year and begin an increased public awareness campaign at that time.

  • Staff and consultants recently presented information about Cary’s current housing and the need for housing priorities. Cary has seen an influx of new population in the 18 to 34 range but is still the oldest municipality in North Carolina. The population continues to become more educated with more advanced degree citizens and is continuing to become more diverse. There was also a lot of information presented on affordable housing.

CHAPEL HILL

  • Council approved a petition from Habitat for Humanity of Orange County and from Barbara and Donald Levine to voluntarily annex 33.72 acres of land into the Town of Chapel Hill corporate limits. Habitat for Humanity has submitted a conditional zoning application for this site known as Weavers Grove, which would include 219 dwelling units. This development application will be the subject of a separate public hearing.

  • The Town Council recently reviewed and discussed a Draft Affordable Housing Preservation Strategy Framework to implement a strategic approach for preserving existing affordable housing in the Town, one of Town Council’s 2020-2022 Strategic Goals. The Preservation Strategy is a tool to create a proactive and comprehensive approach to preserving affordable housing in town and mitigating the impact of redevelopment on low-moderate income residents.

GARNER

  • Changes to Fee Schedule Go Into Effect Jan. 1; Changes to Affect Development Community
    • Construction Drawing Review Fee Fee Amount Initial Construction Drawing Fee (includes 2 reviews and 1 signature submittal) $500 + $10 per lot
    • Subsequent Construction Drawing Fee (per each additional review) $300
    • Development Review Fee    Current Fee Amount New Fee Amount
    • Major Subdivision, Preliminary Plat—CUP $500 + $10 per lot $600 + $10 per lot
    • Major Subdivision, Preliminary Plat—SUP $500 + $10 per lot $600 + $10 per lot
    • Major Subdivision, Preliminary Plat     $250 + $5 per lot $300 + $5 per lot.

  • The Town of Garner Engineering Department has released its quarterly Capital Projects Status Report. The document offers overviews of the status of Town-led capital street and sidewalk projects, Town water and sewer projects, Town facility projects, Town maintenance projects, and NCDOT-led construction and resurfacing projects. Notable in this report are updates indicating significant delays for certain NCDOT projects, including the N.C. 50/U.S. 70 bridge replacement project and the improvements at the U.S. 70/Hammond Road/Timber Drive intersection. Review the document in its entirety.

HOLLY SPRINGS

  • There will soon be a new way to get across town thanks to the transportation bond. Progress on the new cross-town connection was discussed at the Holly Springs Town Council's November 5 meeting, among other business. The council approved a contract for pre-construction services for the transportation bond project that will reduce downtown congestion by using Pine Street to connect Avent Ferry Road with Stinson Avenue, which connects with Bass Lake Road. Read more about the project.
  • The council approved the Hawthorne at Holly Springs development plan. The multi-family project is to be located near the Piney Grove-Wilbon Road and Southern Crossings Boulevard intersection. More than 1,300 linear feet of sidewalk is being constructed as part of the project. This sidewalk was requested by residents who want to improve pedestrian options in anticipation of Wegmans and other retail options opening in the area.

KNIGHTDALE

MORRISVILLE

  • Beginning Monday, December 9, the Town of Morrisville moved building permits to a new permitting and plan review software called EnerGov. The benefits of this software include online application submission, online fee payment, tracking of your projects with an online dashboard, and electronic plan submission and review.

RALEIGH

  • Raleigh’s new City Council members were sworn in on Monday, December 2 at Union Station and began work with their first meeting on Tuesday, December 3. In keeping with their promise to move quickly on a number of items, the meeting was fast-paced and covered a lot of ground including ADUs, scooters, AirBnB, and much more. The N&O provided a helpful recap of the meeting that can be found here.

  • The City of Raleigh has selected its next Department Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. Oscar Carmona will join the City effective January 6, 2020. Mr. Carmona has served as an Assistant Director for the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department since 2014.