Governor Approves H.3774, Provides Relief to Home Builders

On July 20, Governor Nikki Haley signed into law H.3774, referred to as the “Permit Extension Bill.” Due to the recent economic downturn, many builders are experiencing financial restrictions that make it difficult to complete projects as originally scheduled. Recognizing that many public and private sector projects could be abandoned due to challenging permit renewal processes, the HBASC pushed for passage of H.3774 to provide relief to builders across South Carolina.

H.3774, modeled after a similar bill from the 2010 session, extends the expiration date of certain permits to prevent the abandonment of projects which have already received appropriate approval. These permits would include erosion and sedimentation control plans, land disturbance permits, stormwater management plans, water or wastewater permits, NPDES permits, water quality certification, air quality permits, OCRM permits, and City/County approval of sketch plans, preliminary plats, subdivision plats, site specific development plan, and a building permit. Any of these permits which are current and valid as of December 31, 2012 would continue to be valid until December 31, 2016.

The HBASC would like to give a special thanks to Representative Dwight Loftis for sponsoring this legislation. A full version of the legislation can be found on the Statehouse website (link for website:

Value of Membership: $200,000 per permit

We continue our series about how your HBA and its affiliate, NAHB, have logged significant victories advocating for members in the legal, legislative and regulatory arenas during 2012. 
Our advocacy efforts have saved the typical home builder about $7,250 per housing start in 2012, including both single-family and multifamily.

Supreme Court win could save $200,000 for those seeking wetlands permits. Agreeing with NAHB arguments (submitted in the form of two amicus briefs) that a property owner who receives a Compliance Order from the EPA should be able to obtain judicial review in court, the U.S. Supreme Court on March 21 handed down a unanimous decision in Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that brought relief to property owners on this matter. The case means that any builder who receives a Clean Water Act Compliance order can challenge that order in federal court. In addition, whereas builders have previously had no place to turn when the EPA or Army Corps determines that a wetland or water body on their property falls under the agency’s jurisdiction, they may now be able to seek relief in court. For builders who seek judicial review and win relief in court, savings from not being forced to file a wetlands permit can exceed $200,000.

Permits Extended in 2008 will expire this year

By Mark Nix, Executive Director, HBASC

In 2008 HBASC helped to pass the permit extension law. This law called for a pause, time-out, or stay of all existing development permits issued between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2012. In essence the clock stopped on all applicable expired or existing permits until December 31, 2012. On January 1, 2013, the clock starts ticking again. For example, if a development permit had expired on December 31, 2009, it is now renewed and valid until December 31, 2012.

Permits included in this “pause” period include land disturbance, storm water, coastal zone consistency certificates, water/waste water permits, 401 water quality certification, OCRM critical area permits, DHEC air quality, site specific development plans, and building permits.

Permits excluded from this “pause” period, include a number of federal permits and administrative consent orders. The law allows a government entity to revoke or modify a development approval as permitted by law, and it has no effect on Certificate of Need or Demonstration of Need certificates issued by DHEC.

The extension of the “time-out” may be one of our issues for the 2013 legislative session, but it is important to plan now for the expiration of any permits on December 31 that were extended by this law.

HBASC announces 2012 Housing Advocacy Agenda

Your Home Builders Association of South Carolina announced the Housing Advocacy Agenda for 2012 following its annual Legislative Conference in Columbia on November 9.

  1. Multi-lot Discount: Allow for a grace period for annual re-certification to reduce risk of losing property tax discount, and increase from 5 to 8 the years the discount is available due to the economic downturn. Bill up in Senate. 
  2. Reverse Anti-Economic Development Case: SC Supreme Court decision said any discharge into the environment must be permitted, and anyone can have standing in the case. Ominous decision for land development & construction – permit nightmare! Bill to be introduced. 
  3. IECC 2009 Adoption: The PURC Advisory Committee is scheduled to move forward with recommendations to the General Assembly to adopt the IEEC 2009 energy code. Bill to be introduced. 
  4. Immigration Reform: There is new political pressure in our state due to concerns over the Hispanic growing population in the US. We would anticipate that immigration reform legislation may have to be introduced if the Court rules against the recently passed state law – similar to the Arizona law. Bill challenged in court! 
  5. Impact Fees: HBA has to defend the state impact fee law every year every year, as some areas of the state continue to push for school impact fees, and more liberal interpretation of our state’s impact fee law. Recent court action helped! 
  6. Comprehensive Tax Reform: General Assembly will possibly pursue a comprehensive review of taxes in 2012 based on some of the TRAC Committee recommendations with additions, deletions, and changes to the SC tax code. Tax reform bill likely be introduced. 
  7. Private Transfer Fees: A bill was passed last session to ban the use of private transfer fees in SC. Bill will be up for passage in Senate in 2012. 
  8. Labor Unions Expand Their Influence: Business interests are concerned that labor unions will attempt to undermine our right-to-work state by state and federal legislation.

Watch for Calls to Action from your Home Builders Association in support of these housing-related public policy issues.

Permit Extension Bill Enacted

A bill extending permits, including building permits, was signed by the Governor on May 19. This bill was a legislative priority of the Home Builders Association of South Carolina.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Dwight Loftis and Senator Ray Cleary in response to the downturn in the construction industry. Permits that normally would have been completed in a timely manner are not being completed on schedule.

The bill creates a “time out” on development and building permits issued by state and local government agencies. The “time out” period is January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2012. Permits that were valid during that period are kept alive until December 2012.

The additional time insures that the permit doesn’t expire and that a new permit does not have to be purchased. The bill is fashioned after legislation passed and successfully implemented in North Carolina last year. While this is a temporary solution, it provides some much needed help as the construction industry recovers.