(From Mark Binker, WRAL NEWS, 6/08/15)
Cities and counties would be unable to impose requirements with regard to color, siding style or window shape on new homes if a Senate bill (SB 25) approved Monday by the House Regulatory Reform Committee becomes law. The next stop for the measure, which curbs local government's use of aesthetic controls, is the House floor. Similar measures have passed both the House and Senate in recent years, but a single bill has yet to pass the General Assembly. Fire codes and other safety rules still apply, as do restrictions imposed under historic district rules or voluntarily entered into as part of a homeowners association agreement. The committee turned back an amendment that would have allowed cities to impose some design controls on houses being built in the middle of existing neighborhoods, a compromise sought by the N.C. League of Municipalities. That change would have allowed cities "to protect the property value of existing properties so the neighbors make sure the development is compatible with what's currently existing," said Erin Wynia, a league lobbyist. But backers of the bill said the amendment would gut the measure. "You have to trust builders and landowners to build something that they can sell. So, they're simply not going to build things out of character with the neighborhood because they'd have a very difficult time trying to sell," said Mike Carpenter, a lobbyist for the N.C. Home Builders Association.