UPDATE: Protest Petitions Repealed

Here’s what just happened to the citizen safeguard on neighborhood development

Since 1923, citizens in North Carolina have had the right to file a protest petition with their local government in response to development projects occurring on adjacent property. Once the petition is received, the development cannot proceed unless the council approves it with a 3/5 vote.

The Issue

The protest petition has been criticized as overly burdensome and subject to abuse. Citizens, however, contend that it provides a valuable check against hasty development and results in better outcomes for their community.

Bills to repeal the protest petition have been filed in the past but never became law. However, on March 25th, the bill passed the House. Today, the bill reached the Senate floor.

The Debate

The debate focused on the need for direct citizen involvement in the development process versus the potential for abuse of the process.

During the debate, I supported an amendment that would have made some reforms to the protest petition but would maintain its essential purpose. I agree that there are some problems with the way protest petitions currently work, but the solution is not wholesale repeal. However, the amendment was defeated on a party-line vote.

Due to the failure of the amendment that would have found common ground on this issue, I vote against the bill, which passed 39–9.

Next Steps

Due to minor changes in the versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate, the House may decline to adopt the Senate version. If this occurs, a conference committee will be appointed and both chambers will have another opportunity to vote on the version of the bill the conference committee produces. If, however, the House votes to adopt the Senate version, the bill will go to the Governor for signature or veto.

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