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Law that “fast-tracks” stormwater permitting will not affect Charlotte-Mecklenburg

RALEIGH — A bill signed into law last week by Gov. Pat McCrory concerning the transfer of storm water permits issued by the state will not affect the city of Charlotte or Mecklenburg County.

But it could have an impact in less populous municipalities and counties in the Charlotte real estate market.

That’s the word from Don Ceccarelli, project manager for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water  Services.

The bill seeks to make it easier for developers who buy zombie subdivisions — often from other developers or land-owners who have been foreclosed on — to revive the subdivisions.

But it would only affect only areas of the state where the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources has control over the permits, and areas under local control that have not in the past allowed permit transfers.

Those areas do not include the City of Charlotte, which has jurisdiction over permits issued within the city limits, or Mecklenburg, which controls the permitting process in the six other municipalities in the county as well as unincorporated areas.

“It makes no difference for us,” Ceccarelli said. “We’ve always done that. Developers here are free to transfer permits.”

Before bulldozers can touch dirt and workers can install infrastructure, a land developer has to submit and have approved a stormwater plan for a subdivision and to obtain a permit to begin development, Ceccarelli explained.

After the development is complete, developers must obtain a post-construction permit approving stormwater runoff catch basins, whether they are ponds, rain gardens or other systems, Ceccarelli said.

In Charlotte and Mecklenburg, developers are free to transfer existing permits under two conditions that would not be affected by the bill, Ceccarelli said. Developers must:

  •  Fill out and sign statements of liability, Ceccarelli said, “accepting liability for the property they are developing.
  •  Adhere to the preapproved site plan for the subdivision.

All this is done at the staff level and does not require an approval by appointed boards or elected officials, Ceccarelli said.

The new law — which was designated House Bill 480 and designed to “fast-track (the) permitting process” by its sponsors — will, however, change policies in smaller jurisdictions like Union County, Ceccarelli said.

Amy Helms, a Union County planning department engineer, did not return calls seeking comment.

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