Article 3.

Boards and Organizational Arrangements.

160D-301. Planning boards.

(a) Composition. - A local government may by ordinance provide for the appointment and compensation of a planning board or may designate one or more boards or commissions to perform the duties of a planning board. A planning board established pursuant to this section may include, but shall not be limited to, one or more of the following:

(1) A planning board of any size or composition deemed appropriate, organized in any manner deemed appropriate; provided, however, the board shall have at least three members.

(2) A joint planning board created by two or more local governments pursuant to Part 1 of Article 20 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes.

(b) Duties. - A planning board may be assigned the following powers and duties:

(1) To prepare, review, maintain, monitor, and periodically update and recommend to the governing board a comprehensive plan, and such other plans as deemed appropriate, and conduct ongoing related research, data collection, mapping, and analysis.

(2) To facilitate and coordinate citizen engagement and participation in the planning process.

(3) To develop and recommend policies, ordinances, development regulations, administrative procedures, and other means for carrying out plans in a coordinated and efficient manner.

(4) To advise the governing board concerning the implementation of plans, including, but not limited to, review and comment on all zoning text and map amendments as required by G.S. 160D-604.

(5) To exercise any functions in the administration and enforcement of various means for carrying out plans that the governing board may direct.

(6) To provide a preliminary forum for review of quasi-judicial decisions, provided that no part of the forum or recommendation may be used as a basis for the deciding board.

(7) To perform any other related duties that the governing board may direct. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-302. Boards of adjustment.

(a) Composition. - A local government may by ordinance provide for the appointment and compensation of a board of adjustment consisting of five or more members, each to be appointed for three-year terms. In appointing the original members or in the filling of vacancies caused by the expiration of the terms of existing members, the governing board may appoint certain members for less than three years so that the terms of all members shall not expire at the same time. The governing board may appoint and provide compensation for alternate members to serve on the board in the absence or temporary disqualification of any regular member or to fill a vacancy pending appointment of a member. Alternate members shall be appointed for the same term, at the same time, and in the same manner as regular members. Each alternate member serving on behalf of any regular member has all the powers and duties of a regular member.

(b) Duties. - The board shall hear and decide all matters upon which it is required to pass under any statute or development regulation adopted under this Chapter. The ordinance may designate a planning board or governing board to perform any of the duties of a board of adjustment in addition to its other duties and may create and designate specialized boards to hear technical appeals. If any board other than the board of adjustment is assigned decision-making authority for any quasi-judicial matter, that board shall comply with all of the procedures and the process applicable to a board of adjustment in making quasi-judicial decisions. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-303. Historic preservation commission.

(a) Composition. - Before it may designate one or more landmarks or historic districts pursuant to Part 4 of Article 9 of this Chapter, the governing board shall establish a historic preservation commission. The governing board shall determine the number of the members of the commission, which shall be at least three, and the length of their terms, which shall be no greater than four years. A majority of the members of the commission shall have demonstrated special interest, experience, or education in history, architecture, archaeology, or related fields. All the members shall reside within the planning and development regulation jurisdiction of the local government as established pursuant to this Chapter. The commission may appoint advisory bodies and committees as appropriate. Members of the commission may be reimbursed for actual expenses incidental to the performance of their duties within the limits of any funds available to the commission but shall serve without pay unless otherwise provided in the ordinance establishing the commission.

(b) Alternative Forms. - In lieu of establishing a historic preservation commission, a local government may designate as its historic preservation commission (i) a separate historic districts commission or a separate historic landmarks commission established pursuant to this Chapter to deal only with historic districts or landmarks respectively, (ii) a planning board established pursuant to this Chapter, or (iii) a community appearance commission established pursuant to this Chapter. In order for a commission or board other than the historic preservation commission to be designated, at least three of its members shall have demonstrated special interest, experience, or education in history, architecture, or related fields. At the discretion of a local government, the ordinance may also provide that the preservation commission may exercise within a historic district any or all of the powers of a planning board or a community appearance commission.

(c) Joint Commissions. - Local governments may establish or designate a joint preservation commission. If a joint commission is established or designated, it shall have the same composition as specified by this section, and the local governments involved shall determine the residence requirements of members of the joint preservation commission.

(d) Duties. - The historic preservation commission shall have the duties specified in G.S. 160D-942. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-304. Appearance commission.

(a) Composition. - Each local government may create a special commission, to be known as the appearance commission. The commission shall consist of not less than seven nor more than 15 members, to be appointed by the governing board for terms not to exceed four years, as the governing board may by ordinance provide. All members shall be residents of the local government's area of planning and development regulation jurisdiction at the time of appointment. Where possible, appointments shall be made in such a manner as to maintain on the commission at all times a majority of members who have had special training or experience in a design field, such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a related field. Members of the commission may be reimbursed for actual expenses incidental to the performance of their duties within the limits of any funds available to the commission but shall serve without pay unless otherwise provided in the ordinance establishing the commission. Membership of the commission is an office that may be held concurrently with any other elective or appointive office pursuant to Section 9 of Article VI of the North Carolina Constitution.

(b) Joint Commissions. - Local governments may establish a joint appearance commission. If a joint commission is established, it shall have the same composition as specified by this section, and the local governments involved shall determine the residence requirements for members of the joint commission.

(c) Duties. - The community appearance commission shall have the duties specified in G.S. 160D-960. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-305. Housing appeals board.

(a) Composition. - The governing board may by ordinance provide for the creation and organization of a housing appeals board. Instead of establishing a housing appeals board, a local government may designate the board of adjustment as its housing appeals board. The housing appeals board, if created, shall consist of five members to serve for three-year staggered terms.

(b) Duties. - The housing appeals board shall have the duties specified in G.S. 160D-1208. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-306. Other advisory boards.

A local government may by ordinance establish additional advisory boards as deemed appropriate. The ordinance establishing such boards shall specify the composition and duties of such boards. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-307. Extraterritorial representation on boards.

(a) Proportional Representation. - When a city elects to exercise extraterritorial powers under this Chapter, it shall provide a means of proportional representation based on population for residents of the extraterritorial area to be regulated. The population estimates for this calculation shall be updated no less frequently than after each decennial census. Representation shall be provided by appointing at least one resident of the entire extraterritorial planning and development regulation area to the planning board, board of adjustment, appearance commission, and the historic preservation commission if there are historic districts or designated landmarks in the extraterritorial area.

(b) Appointment. - Membership of joint municipal-county planning agencies or boards of adjustment may be appointed as agreed by counties and cities. The extraterritorial representatives on a city advisory board authorized by this Article shall be appointed by the board of county commissioners with jurisdiction over the area. The county shall make the appointments within 90 days following the receipt of a request from the city that the appointments be made. Once a city provides proportional representation, no power available to a city under this Chapter is ineffective in its extraterritorial area solely because county appointments have not yet been made. If there is an insufficient number of qualified residents of the extraterritorial area to meet membership requirements, the board of county commissioners may appoint as many other residents of the county as necessary to make up the requisite number. When the extraterritorial area extends into two or more counties, each board of county commissioners concerned shall appoint representatives from its portion of the area, as specified in the ordinance. If a board of county commissioners fails to make these appointments within 90 days after receiving a resolution from the city council requesting that they be made, the city council may make them.

(c) Voting Rights. - If the ordinance so provides, the outside representatives may have equal rights, privileges, and duties with the other members of the board to which they are appointed, regardless of whether the matters at issue arise within the city or within the extraterritorial area; otherwise, they shall function only with respect to matters within the extraterritorial area. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 8, 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-308. Rules of procedure.

Rules of procedure that are consistent with the provisions of this Chapter may be adopted by the governing board for any or all boards created under this Article. In the absence of action by the governing board, each board created under this Article is authorized to adopt its own rules of procedure that are consistent with the provisions of this Chapter. A copy of any adopted rules of procedure shall be maintained by the local government clerk or such other official as designated by ordinance and posted on the local government Web site if one exists. Each board shall keep minutes of its proceedings. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-309. Oath of office.

All members appointed to boards under this Article shall, before entering their duties, qualify by taking an oath of office as required by G.S. 153A-26 and G.S. 160A-61. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-310. Appointments to boards.

Unless specified otherwise by statute or local ordinance, all appointments to boards authorized by this Chapter shall be made by the governing board of the local government. The governing board may establish reasonable procedures to solicit, review, and make appointments. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)