Chapter 160D of the North Carolina General Statutes represents the first major recodification and modernization of the city and county development regulations since 1905. Every jurisdiction in North Carolina was required to update their development codes by July 1, 2021.
A Challenging Timeline
North Carolina local governments have regulated planning and development under chapters 153A and 160A with only minor changes to the enabling statutes since their inception. The deadline for 160D code revisions presented a major challenge for many governments due to the amount of time and resources necessary to conduct a comprehensive review of an extensive list of new requirements and apply the revised statutes to their existing development codes. Beginning in 2020 Centralina disseminated information regarding 160D and provided multiple training sessions on the significant impacts of the new legislation. Staff and officials were given opportunities to learn about the nature of 160D, such as what changes were required vs. optional and items to be aware of.
Fiscal constraints have been a concern for many communities regarding Chapter 160D. Although communities have been required by law to update their codes, funding to do so was not included in the 160D legislation. Retaining assistance from private consultants that could render code services efficiently has been vital in communities where funding for special projects like 160D is sparse. To meet this need, Centralina provided code revisions to six communities within the region:
- Town of Troutman
- Town of McAdenville
- City of Cherryville
- Town of Stanley
- Town of Wingate
- Town of Dallas
Existing relationships with these communities coupled with working knowledge of their land development codes has proven beneficial. Codes were reviewed and amended to be compliant with 160D and supplemental revisions were made based on individual community needs.
Communication is Key
The adoption of land use codes can be an arduous process due to the complexity of development decisions and their wide-scale effect on the built environment. Government officials must thoroughly understand each item they are being asked to recommend or approve, such as those provisioned under Chapter 160D. It has been necessary for Centralina to present 160D amendments to local officials in a clear and comprehensive manner. During meetings, town officials were briefed on code themes and changes and how each would impact their duties and decisions in the future. An emphasis on ample communication prior to and during the adoption processes allowed communities to formalize their new codes efficiently to meet state requirements.
“We’re already limited on resources, I don’t know how we could have completed our 160D updates without assistance from Centralina.” – Lelsey Dillenger, Town Administrator
“The assistance we received from Centralina to update our codes and ensure compliance with Chapter 160D also supported the Town’s goal to provide for a concise and easy to follow Land Use Ordinance.” – Brad Sellers, Town Manager
Chapter 160D highlights an important role of Centralina. Amendments to statewide legislation affect every community, and when changes in laws are substantial or complex, a concentrated source of information and assistance has proven invaluable to our member governments.
Chapter 160D efforts will continue as communities that want to regulate development through zoning must adopt and reasonably maintain a comprehensive or land use plan that sets forth goals, policies and programs intended to guide the present and future physical, social and economic development of the jurisdiction. The comprehensive or land use plan must be in place by July 1, 2022. As focus begins to shift towards the next component of Chapter 160D, Centralina is positioned to assist based on individual community needs.
Please reach out to us if you need help aligning your land use plan with Chapter 160D requirements. Our planning and placemaking experts can provide technical assistance to your community on diverse aspects of the planning process such as public engagement, plan development, data analysis/maps and graphic design. Contact Regional Planning Director Michelle Nance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-348-2709 for details. You can also view our Land Use Flyer for additional information on our land use services.