Article 10.

Development Agreements.

160D-1001. Authorization.

(a) The General Assembly finds the following:

(1) Development projects often occur in multiple phases over several years, requiring a long-term commitment of both public and private resources.

(2) Such developments often create community impacts and opportunities that are difficult to accommodate within traditional zoning processes.

(3) Because of their scale and duration, such projects often require careful coordination of public capital facilities planning, financing, and construction schedules and phasing of the private development.

(4) Such projects involve substantial commitments of private capital, which developers are usually unwilling to risk without sufficient assurances that development standards will remain stable through the extended period of the development.

(5) Such developments often permit communities and developers to experiment with different or nontraditional types of development concepts and standards, while still managing impacts on the surrounding areas.

(6) To better structure and manage development approvals for such developments and ensure their proper integration into local capital facilities programs, local governments need flexibility to negotiate such developments.

(b) Local governments may enter into development agreements with developers, subject to the procedures of this Article. In entering into such agreements, a local government may not exercise any authority or make any commitment not authorized by general or local act and may not impose any tax or fee not authorized by otherwise applicable law.

(c) This Article is supplemental to the powers conferred upon local governments and does not preclude or supersede rights and obligations established pursuant to other law regarding development approvals, site-specific vesting plans, or other provisions of law. A development agreement shall not exempt the property owner or developer from compliance with the State Building Code or State or local housing codes that are not part of the local government's development regulations. When the governing board approves the rezoning of any property associated with a development agreement executed and recorded pursuant to this Article, the provisions of G.S. 160D-605(a) apply.

(d) Development authorized by a development agreement shall comply with all applicable laws, including all ordinances, resolutions, regulations, permits, policies, and laws affecting the development of property, including laws governing permitted uses of the property, density, intensity, design, and improvements. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1002. Definitions.

The following definitions apply in this Article:

(1) Development. - The planning for or carrying out of a building activity, the making of a material change in the use or appearance of any structure or property, or the dividing of land into two or more parcels. When appropriate to the context, "development" refers to the planning for or the act of developing or to the result of development. Reference to a specific operation is not intended to mean that the operation or activity, when part of other operations or activities, is not development. Reference to particular operations is not intended to limit the generality of this item.

(2) Public facilities. - Major capital improvements, including, but not limited to, transportation, sanitary sewer, solid waste, drainage, potable water, educational, parks and recreational, and health systems and facilities. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1003. Approval of governing board required.

(a) A local government may establish procedures and requirements, as provided in this Article, to consider and enter into development agreements with developers. A development agreement must be approved by the governing board of a local government following the procedures specified in G.S. 160D-1005.

(b) The development agreement may, by ordinance, be incorporated, in whole or in part, into any development regulation adopted by the local government. A development agreement may be considered concurrently with a zoning map or text amendment affecting the property and development subject to the development agreement. A development agreement may be concurrently considered with and incorporated by reference with a sketch plan or preliminary plat required under a subdivision regulation or a site plan or other development approval required under a zoning regulation. If incorporated into a conditional district, the provisions of the development agreement shall be treated as a development regulation in the event of the developer's bankruptcy. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1004. Size and duration.

A local government may enter into a development agreement with a developer for the development of property as provided in this Article for developable property of any size. Development agreements shall be of a reasonable term specified in the agreement. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1005. Hearing.

Before entering into a development agreement, a local government shall conduct a legislative hearing on the proposed agreement. The notice provisions of G.S. 160D-602 applicable to zoning map amendments shall be followed for this hearing. The notice for the hearing must specify the location of the property subject to the development agreement, the development uses proposed on the property, and must specify a place where a copy of the proposed development agreement can be obtained. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 25, 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1006. Content and modification.

(a) A development agreement shall, at a minimum, include all of the following:

(1) A description of the property subject to the agreement and the names of its legal and equitable property owners.

(2) The duration of the agreement. However, the parties are not precluded from entering into subsequent development agreements that may extend the original duration period.

(3) The development uses permitted on the property, including population densities and building types, intensities, placement on the site, and design.

(4) A description of public facilities that will serve the development, including who provides the facilities, the date any new public facilities, if needed, will be constructed, and a schedule to assure public facilities are available concurrent with the impacts of the development. In the event that the development agreement provides that the local government shall provide certain public facilities, the development agreement shall provide that the delivery date of such public facilities will be tied to successful performance by the developer in implementing the proposed development, such as meeting defined completion percentages or other performance standards.

(5) A description, where appropriate, of any reservation or dedication of land for public purposes and any provisions agreed to by the developer that exceed existing laws related to protection of environmentally sensitive property.

(6) A description, where appropriate, of any conditions, terms, restrictions, or other requirements for the protection of public health, safety, or welfare.

(7) A description, where appropriate, of any provisions for the preservation and restoration of historic structures.

(b) A development agreement may also provide that the entire development or any phase of it be commenced or completed within a specified period of time. If required by ordinance or in the agreement, the development agreement shall provide a development schedule, including commencement dates and interim completion dates at no greater than five-year intervals; provided, however, the failure to meet a commencement or completion date does not, in and of itself, constitute a material breach of the development agreement pursuant to G.S. 160D-1008 but must be judged based upon the totality of the circumstances. The developer may request a modification in the dates as set forth in the agreement.

(c) If more than one local government is made party to an agreement, the agreement must specify which local government is responsible for the overall administration of the development agreement. A local or regional utility authority may also be made a party to the development agreement.

(d) The development agreement also may cover any other matter, including defined performance standards, not inconsistent with this Chapter. The development agreement may include mutually acceptable terms regarding provision of public facilities and other amenities and the allocation of financial responsibility for their provision, provided any impact mitigation measures offered by the developer beyond those that could be required by the local government shall be expressly enumerated within the agreement, and provided the agreement may not include a tax or impact fee not otherwise authorized by law.

(e) Consideration of a proposed major modification of the agreement shall follow the same procedures as required for initial approval of a development agreement. What changes constitute a major modification may be determined by ordinance adopted pursuant to G.S. 160D-1003 or as provided for in the development agreement.

(f) Any performance guarantees under the development agreement shall comply with G.S. 160D-804.1. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 26, 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1007. Vesting.

(a) Unless the development agreement specifically provides for the application of subsequently enacted laws, the laws applicable to development of the property subject to a development agreement are those in force at the time of execution of the agreement.

(b) Except for grounds specified in G.S. 160D-108(c) or G.S. 160D-108.1(f), a local government may not apply subsequently adopted ordinances or development policies to a development that is subject to a development agreement.

(c) In the event State or federal law is changed after a development agreement has been entered into and the change prevents or precludes compliance with one or more provisions of the development agreement, the local government may modify the affected provisions, upon a finding that the change in State or federal law has a fundamental effect on the development agreement.

(d) This section does not abrogate any vested rights otherwise preserved by law. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 27, 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1008. Breach and cure.

(a) Procedures established pursuant to G.S. 160D-1003 may include a provision requiring periodic review by the zoning administrator or other appropriate officer of the local government, at which time the developer shall demonstrate good-faith compliance with the terms of the development agreement.

(b) If the local government finds and determines that the developer has committed a material breach of the agreement, the local government shall notify the developer in writing setting forth with reasonable particularity the nature of the breach and the evidence supporting the finding and determination and providing the developer a reasonable time in which to cure the material breach.

(c) If the developer fails to cure the material breach within the time given, then the local government unilaterally may terminate or modify the development agreement, provided the notice of termination or modification may be appealed to the board of adjustment in the manner provided by G.S. 160D-405.

(d) An ordinance adopted pursuant to G.S. 160D-1003 or the development agreement may specify other penalties for breach in lieu of termination, including, but not limited to, penalties allowed for violation of a development regulation. Nothing in this Article shall be construed to abrogate or impair the power of the local government to enforce applicable law.

(e) A development agreement shall be enforceable by any party to the agreement notwithstanding any changes in the development regulations made subsequent to the effective date of the development agreement. Any party to the agreement may file an action for injunctive relief to enforce the terms of a development agreement. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1009. Amendment or termination.

Subject to the provisions of G.S. 160D-1006(e), a development agreement may be amended or terminated by mutual consent of the parties. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1010. Change of jurisdiction.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this Article, any development agreement entered into by a local government before the effective date of a change of jurisdiction shall be valid for the duration of the agreement or eight years from the effective date of the change in jurisdiction, whichever is earlier. The parties to the development agreement and the local government assuming jurisdiction have the same rights and obligations with respect to each other regarding matters addressed in the development agreement as if the property had remained in the previous jurisdiction.

(b) A local government assuming jurisdiction may modify or suspend the provisions of the development agreement if the local government determines that the failure of the local government to do so would place the residents of the territory subject to the development agreement or the residents of the local government, or both, in a condition dangerous to their health or safety, or both. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1011. Recordation.

The developer shall record the agreement with the register of deeds in the county where the property is located within 14 days after the local government and developer execute an approved development agreement. No development approvals may be issued until the development agreement has been recorded. The burdens of the development agreement are binding upon, and the benefits of the agreement shall inure to, all successors in interest to the parties to the agreement. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)


160D-1012. Applicability of procedures to approve debt.

In the event that any of the obligations of the local government in the development agreement constitute debt, the local government shall comply, at the time of the obligation to incur the debt and before the debt becomes enforceable against the local government, with any applicable constitutional and statutory procedures for the approval of this debt. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)