Proposed bill would lessen homeowner regulations

by: Scott Wickersham Updated:

CHARLOTTE - A new bill in Raleigh could make it easier for owners to change how their home looks.

Eyewitness News anchor Scott Wickersham spoke with Davidson leaders who said lawmakers need to back off and not mess with the town’s look.

Supporters of the bill said it stops cities and towns from creating costly and difficult rules for builders. Some who use those rules say they know what is best for their residents, not lawmakers.

The legislation would not allow a town, city or county to tell someone, like a builder or property owner, what color their house can be. They also would not able to say what kind of siding or shutters to use, roofing material, window location or design of the floor plan.

Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter was an original sponsor of the bill in 2013.

“In some cases it was being used to drive up the cost of homes to make the community more exclusive. That’s not what zoning is supposed to do,” Clodfelter said.

Davidson is a town that regulates builders in a similar way. Its most significant issue is placement of garage doors.

Leamon Brice, Davidson town manager, says the town style allows for homes close to the road, so they have to regulate that to make sure cars do not block the sidewalk or clog the road.

“I don’t understand why the folks in Raleigh think they understand the issues at home in the towns better than the folks at home in the towns,” Brice said.

Davidson resident Laurie Fitzgerald said those rules are why she chose to live in the town.

“If you take that right away, you will have a different town. Is that Raleigh trying to get into Davidson’s business? Personally, yes,” Fitzgerald said.

Clodfelter said the bill is not that restrictive, and is necessary. Even though he is no longer a state lawmaker, he hopes it will pass.

“Color, whether your window has four panes or eight, that’s just not what zoning is supposed to be about,” Clodfelter said.

The legislation was most recently sent to the Senate’s Rules and Operations Committee. Mecklenburg County Rep. Bill Brawley, who is a sponsor of the House version of the bill, said it will not affect a homeowner association’s ability to set restrictions on homes.