House regulatory reform committee approves bill that limits government control of aesthetics

LOB signRALEIGH — The state House regulatory reform committee approved a bill today limiting what cities and counties can prohibit based on aesthetic opinions of local governments.

Bill sponsor Sen. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance) presented S. 25 to the committee, which would limit when local governments could pass regulations on housing colors, architectural design elements, and other aesthetic controls.

Bill supporters claim that aesthetic controls increase the cost of housing and say that the General Assembly has never granted local authority for the controls, while opponents including the N.C. League of Municipalities say that the controls protect the value of nearby homes.

“You have to trust builders to build homes that will sell,” said Mike Carpenter of the North Carolina Home Builders Association. Carpenter and several representatives also pointed out that the local governments are not participating financially in the project they aim to control.

The N.C. League of Municipalities opposed the bill and supported an amendment to soften it. Rep. Pricey Harrison called the amendment a “fair compromise,” but the amendment was voted down after several members said it would effectively gut the bill.

Most of the bill’s proponents played up the cost of the regulations for home buyers.

“This means affordable housing for working folks of this state,” said Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake).