NAIOP of North Carolina Scores Victory on Permit Reform

October 24, 2023

NAIOP of North Carolina scored an important legislative victory last week with the passage of legislation that will bring more transparency, predictability and accountability to local permitting processes. The permitting reforms in Senate Bill 677 became law without Governor Roy Cooper’s signature on Oct. 21. Alex Hale from Windsor Commercial stated that “the fundamental reforms contained in SB 677 will remove red tape and allow the development community to meet the demands of our state’s growing economy.”

The enactment of SB 677 will improve local permitting processes and reduce inefficiencies with the following reforms:

  • Provides an option for a pre-submittal meeting within five business days of an applicant’s request so that the local agency may determine whether the applicant possesses the necessary permitting approval documentation for review.
  • Establishes a 45-day timeline for a local permitting entity to review an application. If additional information is requested, the local entity shall have up to 10 days to make a decision upon receipt of the requested materials.
  • The local permitting entity may allow an applicant to seek third-party approval before the 45-day period is up. Applicants may automatically seek third-party approval after 45 days.
  • Requires local permitting to issue permits within three days of receipt of an approved application from a certified third party.
  • Refunds or waives all applicable permit fees.
  • Releases local governments from any “liabilities, duties, and responsibilities” or claims arising from a third-party review.

These reforms were initiated in the North Carolina House of Representatives by Representative Jeff Zenger from the Piedmont Triad area. He is a general contractor and developer who understands firsthand the fundamental importance of obtaining permits and the inconsistencies that can occur when working with various local entities. Permitting reforms achieved in Georgia were used as an initial resource in the legislative debate.

NAIOP of North Carolina has advocated for these reforms as the state continues to experience rapid economic growth. This growth is reflected in CNBC’s ranking North Carolina as the top state for business in both 2022 and 2023. The enactment of these permit reforms will establish the foundation for the commercial and residential development to meet the demands for current and future growth.