Planning and Development Regulation

Chapter 160D: A New Land Use Law for North Carolina

What is Chapter 160D?

The new Chapter 160D of the North Carolina General Statutes consolidates current city- and county-enabling statutes for development regulations (now in Chapters 153A and 160A) into a single, unified chapter. Chapter 160D places these statutes into a more logical, coherent organization. While the new law does not make major policy changes or shifts in the scope of authority granted to local governments, it does provide many clarifying amendments and consensus reforms that will need to be incorporated into local development regulations.  

Chapter 160D is effective now, but local governments have until July 1, 2021 for the development, consideration, and adoption of necessary amendments to conform local ordinances to this new law. All city and county zoning, subdivision, and other development regulations, including unified-development ordinances, will need to be updated by that date to conform to the new law. Cities and counties that have zoning ordinances must have an up-to-date comprehensive plan or land use plan by July 1, 2022.

This page gathers resources and training that may help local governments in the process of updating local ordinances and policies to comply with Chapter 160D. The resources are organized based on where you are in the update process.

So, where are you?

Check out the resources below for each of those stages.


New Resources and Training


Just Getting Started?

If so, then check out our introductory videos to get an overview of the 160D provisions and requirements, or attend one of our Jumpstart Workshops to begin structuring your 160D update.


Digging into the Details?

If so, then consider purchasing the 160D book for detailed explanation of the 160D changes, peruse the Question and Answer document for answers to frequently asked questions, and review the various legislative resources.   



Drafting Ordinance Updates?

If so, then check out the updated checklist, stop by for some virtual office hours, and review our 160D Guidance Documents.

160D Guidance Documents


Need a Code Scan before Adopting a 160D Update?

A limited number of local governments can contract with School of Government for a 160D Code Scan. A Code Scan is intended as a secondary review of proposed ordinance updates. School staff will review proposed updates for compliance with Chapter 160D, suggest revisions and considerations, and direct the local government to additional resources, as applicable. A Code Scan is NOT a code drafting service. A Code Scan is available at a flat fee of $2,000 and includes up to 10 hours of staff time. Elements include an initial call, a scan of applicable ordinances, a review and mark-up of 160D updates, a call to discuss findings,and a follow up email with resources. To inquire about a Code Scan, contact Ben Hitchings at hitchings@sog.unc.edu


Need Additional Legislative Guidance?

If so, then here are webinars and bulletins to help. 



Previous Trainings

Additional Information

The principal impact of 160D is to:

(1)   Consolidate current city and county enabling statues now in Article 18, Chapter 153A and Article 19, Chapter 160A into a single, unified new Chapter 160D of the General Statutes.

(2)   Place these statutes into a more logical, coherent organization, facilitating ease of finding relevant provisions and clarifying how the statutes relate to one another.

(3)   Provide uniform authority, definitions and procedures for cities and counties, while retaining broad substantive policy discretion for ordinances adopted by individual jurisdictions.

While not making major policy shifts in existing legislation, the legislation modernizes the language of the statute to remove obsolete terminology and clarify existing provisions without making substantive changes. In addition, a number of consensus reforms that have the broad support of the local government and development community are incorporated.

The 160D proposal was developed by the N.C. Bar Association. The legislation was introduced as H. 548 in 2015 and as S. 419 in 2017.  The bill was introduced in the 2019 session of the General Assembly as S. 422 and H. 448.  On May 6, 2019 the Senate passed the bill as introduced as Part II of S. 355. The House of Representatives passed the bill with only a few technical tweaks on June 26. The Governor signed the bill on July 11. It is S.L. 2019-111.  It initialy was to become effective January 1, 2021 in order to allow time in 2020 to incorporate amendments made to affected statutes by other legislation enacted in 2019. That incorporation was made by S.L. 2020-25. Therefore Chapter 160D was made effective upon the adoption of that legislation, June 19, 2020. However, local governments have until July 1, 2021 to adopt conforming amendments to their local development regulations, with Chapter 160D becoming effective for each jurisdiction as those amendments are adopted (or no later than July 1, 2021).



Topics - Local and State Government