160D-604. Planning board review and comment.

(a) Initial Zoning. - In order to exercise zoning powers conferred by this Chapter for the first time, a local government shall create or designate a planning board under the provisions of this Article or of a special act of the General Assembly. The planning board shall prepare or shall review and comment upon a proposed zoning regulation, including the full text of such regulation and maps showing proposed district boundaries. The planning board may hold public meetings and legislative hearings in the course of preparing the regulation. Upon completion, the planning board shall make a written recommendation regarding adoption of the regulation to the governing board. The governing board shall not hold its required hearing or take action until it has received a recommendation regarding the regulation from the planning board. Following its required hearing, the governing board may refer the regulation back to the planning board for any further recommendations that the board may wish to make prior to final action by the governing board in adopting, modifying and adopting, or rejecting the regulation.

(b) Zoning Amendments. - Subsequent to initial adoption of a zoning regulation, all proposed amendments to the zoning regulation or zoning map shall be submitted to the planning board for review and comment. If no written report is received from the planning board within 30 days of referral of the amendment to that board, the governing board may act on the amendment without the planning board report. The governing board is not bound by the recommendations, if any, of the planning board.

(c) Review of Other Ordinances and Actions. - Any development regulation other than a zoning regulation that is proposed to be adopted pursuant to this Chapter may be referred to the planning board for review and comment. Any development regulation other than a zoning regulation may provide that future proposed amendments of that ordinance be submitted to the planning board for review and comment. Any other action proposed to be taken pursuant to this Chapter may be referred to the planning board for review and comment.

(d) Plan Consistency. - When conducting a review of proposed zoning text or map amendments pursuant to this section, the planning board shall advise and comment on whether the proposed action is consistent with any comprehensive plan that has been adopted and any other officially adopted plan that is applicable. The planning board shall provide a written recommendation to the governing board that addresses plan consistency and other matters as deemed appropriate by the planning board, but a comment by the planning board that a proposed amendment is inconsistent with the comprehensive plan shall not preclude consideration or approval of the proposed amendment by the governing board. If a zoning map amendment qualifies as a "large-scale rezoning" under G.S. 160D-602(b), the planning board statement describing plan consistency may address the overall rezoning and describe how the analysis and policies in the relevant adopted plans were considered in the recommendation made.

(e) Separate Board Required. - Notwithstanding the authority to assign duties of the planning board to the governing board as provided by this Chapter, the review and comment required by this section shall not be assigned to the governing board and must be performed by a separate board. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)