Chapter 160D: what it means for your comprehensive plan

Chapter 160D: what it means for your comprehensive plan

The Chapter 160D deadline for revising existing ordinances is quickly approaching on July 1, 2021. Municipalities and counties who have already completed their revisions should be proud of this accomplishment, but our Planning team urges communities not to rest on their laurels. While the first deadline will soon be in the rear-view mirror, the next phase of Chapter 160D will begin and will be focused on your Comprehensive Plan or Land Use Plan.

Chapter 160D requires North Carolina municipalities to adopt a Comprehensive Plan or Land Use Plan by July 1, 2022. Either plan type can satisfy the requirement; communities are not required to have both to be compliant.

There are no specific requirements for the chosen plan’s contents or organization, but the goal remains to create clear, concise, and seamless ordinance and land use documents. With that in mind, WithersRavenel recommends including the following plan components:

  • Issues and opportunities
  • Patterns and direction for growth and development
  • Economic development and community development
  • Public service levels and infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Recreation and open space
  • Natural hazard mitigation
  • Environmental protection and natural resources
  • Historic, cultural, architectural, and scenic resources
  • Implementation and action items

Community engagement is also key to successful plan development. Because the adopted Comprehensive Plan or Land Use Plan will guide what developments can built where and how they can reflect the community’s character, it is important for the community to articulate what they want that character to look like. WithersRavenel encourages clients to add “community vision and values” to the suggested list of plan components.

Per N.C. General Statutes, once a plan is adopted, it must be “reasonably maintained.” Communities may define for themselves what reasonably maintained means; however, a five- to ten-year horizon for updates is recommended. More frequent updates may be necessary depending on the pace of growth and community context.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? WithersRavenel’s Planning can help you craft or update your Comprehensive Plan or Land Use to satisfy Chapter 160D. While plans can be completed in as little as six months, we strongly recommend allowing nine months to enable a more thorough and inclusive process. Contact Meredith Gruber at (919) 238-0431 or mgruber@withersravenel.com or Daniel Rauh at (919) 238-0416 or drauh@withersravenel.com to get started.