Article 5.


160D-501. Plans.

(a) Requirements for Zoning. - As a condition of adopting and applying zoning regulations under this Chapter, a local government shall adopt and reasonably maintain a comprehensive plan or land-use plan.

(a1) Plans. - A comprehensive plan sets forth goals, policies, and programs intended to guide the present and future physical, social, and economic development of the jurisdiction. A land-use plan uses text and maps to designate the future use or reuse of land. A comprehensive or land-use plan is intended to guide coordinated, efficient, and orderly development within the planning and development regulation jurisdiction based on an analysis of present and future needs.

Planning analysis may address inventories of existing conditions and assess future trends regarding demographics and economic, environmental, and cultural factors. The planning process shall include opportunities for citizen engagement in plan preparation and adoption.

A local government may prepare and adopt other plans as deemed appropriate. This may include, but is not limited to, small area plans, neighborhood plans, hazard mitigation plans, transportation plans, housing plans, and recreation and open space plans.

(b) Comprehensive Plan Contents. - A comprehensive plan may, among other topics, address any of the following as determined by the local government:

(1) Issues and opportunities facing the local government, including consideration of trends, values expressed by citizens, community vision, and guiding principles for growth and development.

(2) The pattern of desired growth and development and civic design, including the location, distribution, and characteristics of future land uses, urban form, utilities, and transportation networks.

(3) Employment opportunities, economic development, and community development.

(4) Acceptable levels of public services and infrastructure to support development, including water, waste disposal, utilities, emergency services, transportation, education, recreation, community facilities, and other public services, including plans and policies for provision of and financing for public infrastructure.

(5) Housing with a range of types and affordability to accommodate persons and households of all types and income levels.

(6) Recreation and open spaces.

(7) Mitigation of natural hazards such as flooding, winds, wildfires, and unstable lands.

(8) Protection of the environment and natural resources, including agricultural resources, mineral resources, and water and air quality.

(9) Protection of significant architectural, scenic, cultural, historical, or archaeological resources.

(10) Analysis and evaluation of implementation measures, including regulations, public investments, and educational programs.

(c) Adoption and Effect of Plans. - Plans shall be adopted by the governing board with the advice and consultation of the planning board. Adoption and amendment of a comprehensive or land-use plan is a legislative decision and shall follow the process mandated for zoning text amendments set by G.S. 160D-601. Plans adopted under this Chapter may be undertaken and adopted as part of or in conjunction with plans required under other statutes, including, but not limited to, the plans required by G.S. 113A-110. Plans adopted under this Chapter shall be advisory in nature without independent regulatory effect. Plans adopted under this Chapter do not expand, diminish, or alter the scope of authority for development regulations adopted under this Chapter. Plans adopted under this Chapter shall be considered by the planning board and governing board when considering proposed amendments to zoning regulations as required by G.S. 160D-604 and G.S. 160D-605.

If a plan is deemed amended by G.S. 160D-605 by virtue of adoption of a zoning amendment that is inconsistent with the plan, that amendment shall be noted in the plan. However, if the plan is one that requires review and approval subject to G.S. 113A-110, the plan amendment shall not be effective until that review and approval is completed. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 11, 51(a), (b), (d).)