Recent Blog Posts

  • Who needs a hybrid? Regulation of golf carts on local streets

    Authored by: on Monday, August 31st, 2009

    In recent years, the General Assembly has enacted numerous local acts authorizing dozens of cities and one county to allow and regulate golf cart use on city and county streets. Absent this authority, golf carts cannot be driven on the streets or highways because state law both requires that a vehicle intended to be operated on the highways be registered and prohibits the registration of golf carts. See G.S. 20-50(a); 20-54(8).

    This session, the General Assembly enacted S.L. 2009-459 (H 121), which allows all cities and counties to regulate golf carts. Read more »

  • New Life for Old Development Approvals

    Authored by: on Friday, August 28th, 2009

    UPDATE September 2013: The permit extension law was subsequently extended an additional year. For a review of the extension, click here.  The law has now expired. For a review of the impacts of the expiration, click here.

    One consequence of the depressed economy of the past few years was the demise of previously approved development projects. In many instances the market for potential sales was greatly depressed or necessary financing became impossible to secure. While the development business has always had some permitted projects that never make it to construction, the number of delayed and cancelled development projects rose significantly during the recent recession. The General Assembly decided in 2009 to provide relief to permitees facing the grim prospect of seeing their development approvals expire before a project could get underway. Read more »

  • Rescheduling a Recessed Meeting

    Authored by: on Friday, August 28th, 2009

    UPDATE August 2013: For more on this topic, click here.

    It’s getting late and the board members are tired, so, rather than trying to complete its regular meeting agenda the board votes to recess the meeting until 7:00 p.m. a week later.  A couple of days before the meeting is to resume, however, it becomes clear that several members are not going to be able to attend the recessed portion of the meeting.  The board would like to reschedule the recessed meeting.  Is there any way it can do so? Read more »

  • Animal Shelters: More Changes on the Way

    Authored by: on Thursday, August 27th, 2009

    UPDATE September 2013: In 2013, the General Assembly enacted legislation to shift oversight for some of these sheltering requirements to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. See related blog post here.

    State legislators and regulators have dedicated a lot of time and energy to animal shelters over the last few years. After a rather tumultuous rulemaking process, public shelters are now subject to regulatory oversight by the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. As a result, shelters across the state have been adapting facilities, changing policies and procedures, and seeking required training for staff in an effort come into compliance with the new regulations. But just when they thought that they had it all under control…

    Read more »

  • Public Hearings for Economic Development Incentives: An Unwritten Rule?

    Authored by: on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

    North Carolina local governments frequently use cash grants as an economic development incentive to lure businesses into their respective jurisdictions. The grants are authorized under the Local Development Act, G.S. 158-7.1 et seq., but a quick read of the statutes might obscure the need for a public hearing prior to approving such incentives. To understand the source of this hearing requirement, you have to look closely at the statute and the case law.

    Those familiar with the Local Development Act are aware of the stringent notice and public hearing requirements for activities related to acquiring, improving, and conveying property authorized by subsection (b) of G.S. 158-7.1, such as constructing and conveying shell buildings, extending utility lines to a facility, and engaging in site preparation. For those enumerated activities, the hearing requirements are clearly spelled out in G.S. 158-7.1(c) and (d).

    But what about an appropriation for a cash incentive to induce a company to bring jobs and capital investment to North Carolina? Some argue that the award of a cash grant is not authorized by the property-related provisions of subsection (b); rather, they suggest that the authority to offer cash incentives is likely derived from the general grant of authority described in G.S. 158-7.1(a), which is a catch-all authorization for economic development appropriations. If that were the case, then a cash incentive would conveniently avoid all of the procedural requirements associated with property-related activities authorized under subsection (b). That argument just doesn’t hold up under closer examination. This post explains why. Read more »

  • Are You Certified? Part II: More Information About The New Statewide Uniform HUB Certification Program

    Authored by: on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

    My post on the Statewide Uniform HUB Certification Program from two weeks ago prompted some follow-up questions through email.  I thought it might be helpful to post those questions and my answers to those questions here. Read more »

  • When Are Public Hearings Required

    Authored by: on Friday, August 21st, 2009

    A recurrent point of confusion is when must a city council or board of county commissioners hold a public hearing.  Many governing boards spend a lot of time on zoning map amendments, and those actions require a public hearing, so a notion arises that other sorts of ordinances surely require a public hearing as well.  But in fact they don’t.  Apart from ordinances involving land-use regulation, public hearings are required on only one other sort of ordinance – Sunday closing ordinances adopted by cities.  In general, apart from actions involving service districts and authorization of borrowing, statutorily-required public hearings are fairly rare.  Unless the statute that authorizes a particular sort of action requires a public hearing as a condition of acting, a board is under no compulsion to hold a hearing.  (Many boards voluntarily hold public hearings in controversial situations even though the law does not require them.)  Here’s a list of those statutes that I know of that require a city council or board of county commissioners to hold a public hearing: Read more »