HB 852 – YOU PAY LESS FOR PERMITS
Multiple Texas cities were using excessive building permit fees to supplement their municipal budgets. HB 852 prohibits a municipality from considering the value of a residential dwelling or the cost of constructing or improving a dwelling when determining the amount of fees for a building permit or inspection fees required for construction or improvement of a residential dwelling.
It promotes the principles of limited government, property right, and free markets. This bill makes it easier for current and future property owners to improve their property and to enter into contracts for the projects. This bill also prohibits fee gouging on the part of municipalities.
HB 2439 – YOU CAN USE ALL BUILDING MATERIALS APPROVED BY CODE WITHOUT ARBITRARY LIMITATIONS FROM MUNICIPALITIES
Many cities in Texas had enacted zoning or other codes to dictate the materials that homebuilders were allowed to use. Often these were an attempt to raise housing prices. HB 2439 prohibits a governmental entity from banning use of a building material, product or method in the construction, renovation, maintenance, or other alteration of a residential or commercial structure if it has been approved for use by a national model code published within the last three cycles that applies to the construction, renovation, maintenance, or other alteration of the building. A governmental entity is also prohibited from adopting standards more stringent than the standards in a relevant national model code published within the last three cycles.
It promotes the principles of limited government and free markets. It helps ensure that local governments do not adopt building codes that are unnecessarily restrictive and drive up costs of construction. It removes unnecessary government interference from the free marketplace.
HB 1743 – YOU PAY LESS IN ROLLBACK TAXES
Rollback taxes are one-time taxes applied to land that was in an agriculture or other exemption from paying full real estate taxes, and are assessed when the property use is changed as it is developed. Previously Texas law allowed rollback taxes to be applied for five years, with a seven percent interest rate. HB 1743 lowered the allowable rollbacks to three years with a five percent interest rate, saving millions of dollars in taxes on developments across the State annually.
This bill lowers additional taxes required to be paid by property owners that undergo a change of use on their land following a specific appraisal. The net effect is that lower rollback taxes mean less development costs that are passed on as part of lot prices that homebuilders pay.
HB 3167 – FASTER PLAN APPROVAL
The time required for cities and counties to approve a proposed subdivision plat or construction plans across the State varied wildly. In some locales, approval times exceeding a year were typical, costing developers and builders time, interest payments, and consultant fees. HB 3167 placed specific time limits on cities and counties for approval of plats and plans, with the goal or promoting faster, more predictable development schedules.
HB 3167 makes changes to approval procedures for land development applications. It requires a municipality to approve or disapprove a plan within 30 days after the date the plan is filed. If the municipality disapproves a plan, it is required to provide the applicant a written statement of the reasons for disapproval that clearly articulate each specific reason for disapproval. Each specific reason must be directly related to applicable requirements and include a legal citation for the basis of the disapproval. The applicant can submit a written response that remedies each reason for disapproval and the municipality must reconsider the plan within 15 days. Municipalities are required to approve the plan if the response remedies each reason for disapproval, and the plan is automatically approved if the municipality does not disapprove the plan as provided under these bill provisions.
The bill prohibits a municipality from requesting or requiring an applicant to waive a deadline or other approval procedure under provisions relating to municipal regulation of subdivisions. In a legal action challenging such a plan, the municipality has the burden of proof for showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that the disapproval meets applicable requirements. The courts are prohibited from using a deferential standard.
In every legislative session, bills are introduced to assess additional taxes on labor or other components of homebuilding. Combating these bills is an ongoing battle that requires time and effort to ensure that unnecessary taxes are imposed on our industry.
CITY OF FORT WORTH iSWM REGULATIONS
The City adopted a new drainage policy, called iSWM, in 2006. By 2015, the process had become so slow, costly, and cumbersome that action was required. The GFWBA held meeting with local officials to draw their attention to the dysfunctional system. Local officials responded, creating a team of city officials, local consultants, and local stakeholders. In a cooperative environment, the iSWM processes were revised, streamlined, and made much more user-friendly. The result was that the process became more user-friendly and predictable. It should be noted that no design standards were relaxed or lowered, but the process itself was made to work better for all stakeholders including the City.
Many local cities assess impact fees on water, sewer, and roads. Impact fees are being adopted by more cities as another way for them to collect revenue from development. These fees are either paid directly by builders, or are paid by developers and passed on as higher lot costs.
The Local Government Code of the State of Texas has very specific rules that cities must follow in the creation and ongoing assessment of impact fees. Knowledge of these rules, and the steps that cities must follow in how they are implemented, is important in assuring that cities do not assess impact fees that are higher than allowed by law. GFWBA continues to be involved with ensuring that local cities follow state requirements.
WOTUS/Navigable Waters Protection Rule – Fewer Federal Permitting Requirements
Provides several benefits to builders and developers while continuing to protect important water bodies. It encompasses traditional navigable waters and territorial seas, which Congress intended for federal oversight. It also narrows the extent of federal jurisdiction by excluding isolated water bodies, “ephemeral” waters that form only in response to rain, and most ditches. Fewer residential construction projects will trigger federal permitting requirements.
Tax Reform Victories for Housing
Accomplishments include Development Services reorganization in Fort Worth; easing permitting processes; working with Fort Worth to delay or stagger development fee increases and permitting fee increases; reducing regulations regarding local flood plains; rewriting of Fort Worth iSWM; and reducing roadway impact fees.
When the COVID-19 pandemic came up on our radar, the GFWBA joined forces with other local associations, the Texas Association of Builders (TAB) and the National Association of Builders (NAB) to ensure that residential construction was deemed essential. We were able to work through the pandemic providing housing to our community members.