Disaster Recovery Legislation Imposes Building Permit and Inspection Fee Moratorium Effective NOW

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Norma Houston

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By a unanimous vote in both chambers on Monday evening (October 15th), the General Assembly quickly approved and Governor Cooper signed legislation appropriating almost four hundred million dollars in disaster relief for communities and individuals impacted by Hurricane Florence.  The full text of Senate Bill 3 (SB3), the 2018 Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Act, is available here, and the accompanying committee report detailing the disaster relief line item appropriations is available here.  Governor Cooper’s Hurricane Florence Recovery Recommendations Report is available here.  Not only did SB3 appropriate funds for a variety of disaster relief programs, the legislation also reserved an additional four hundred million dollars in the Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Fund for disaster assistance that the legislature may take action on when it reconvenes on November 27th.  Of particular interest to city and county planning and zoning officials and building inspectors is a moratorium on building permit, inspection, and certificate of occupancy fees in declared jurisdictions for projects related to Hurricane Florence damage. 

In addition to appropriating disaster relief funds, Section 5.16 of SB3 imposes a moratorium on fees associated with permits, inspections, or certificates of occupancy for any commercial or residential projects involving construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, movement to another site, removal, or demolition of manufactured homes, buildings, dwellings or other structures damaged as a direct result of Hurricane Florence.  The moratorium applies to fees charged by the NC Department of Insurance as well as cities and counties designated under a Hurricane Florence major Presidential disaster declaration.  For cities and counties not covered under a Florence Presidential disaster declaration, the moratorium does not apply.  Even in declared jurisdictions, the moratorium does not apply to projects not directly related to damage resulting from Hurricane Florence.

SB3 imposed the building and inspection fee moratorium retroactive to September 13, 2018, and extends the moratorium until December 31, 2018.  Individuals already charged a fee for building permits, inspections, or certificates of occupancy on or after September 13th for repair or demolition work described above directly related to Hurricane Florence in declared jurisdictions are entitled to a refund of that fee.  The Department of Insurance, and cities and counties covered under a Florence declaration are required to post a notice of the availability of the refunds on their websites.

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4 Responses to Disaster Recovery Legislation Imposes Building Permit and Inspection Fee Moratorium Effective NOW

  1. Wanda Robinson says:

    Does this apply to EH Departments is local government due to well repairs and etc.

    • Norma Houston says:

      The moratorium does apply to certain categories of EH fees. NC DHHS will issue guidance to local health departments in the near future.

  2. Amanda Prince says:

    The statute does not specifically state that the local entities will be reimbursed for these waived fees. Do you have any guidance?

    • Norma Houston says:

      The 2018 Florence Disaster Relief Act did not contain any appropriations or authorization for reimbursing local governments for revenues lost as a result of the building permit/inspection fee moratorium. Nor does the state (specifically, the Division of Emergency Management Public Assistance Program) have statutory authorization to provide this reimbursement through the state Public Assistance program (G.S. 166A-19.41). Finally, FEMA has confirmed that these lost revenues are not reimburseable under the FEMA Public Assistance program. Thus, the only opportunity for reimbursement for revenues lost as a result of the buildingpermit/inspection fee moratorium would come from the state, not FEMA, and only though authorization by the General Assembly in legislation appropriating funds for this purpose.

      Please remember that the moratorium does NOT apply to building permit/inspection fees for projects that are NOT related to Hurricane Florence damage. You may still charge your normal fees for permits and inspections for new construction, additions, repairs, etc. that are NOT related to Hurricane Florence damage.

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