New Law Affecting School Construction/Reimbursement

Stam Law Firm, PLLC is pleased to initiate a series of short blog posts on educational issues affecting both public and private schools. There are constant developments in this area of law that may interest you.

This first installment addresses a new law that became effective on August 1, 2017. Sections 34.6A.(a) & (b) of the Appropriations Act of 2017 established new opportunities for all schools opened, relocated, or expanded after August 1, 2017. These provisions apply to all traditional, charter, and private schools serving students from kindergarten through high school.

School administrators and developers have many things to consider when opening, relocating, or expanding their school. The Department of Transportation (DOT) or the city in which the school is located may require street improvements to be included in the school’s development plans. In some instances, these improvements prove to be very costly. The new legislation only requires schools to make those improvements that are (1) required for safe ingress and egress to the State highway or municipal street system, or (2) physically connected to a driveway on the school property.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 136-18(29a) and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-307.1 now require DOT or the city to reimburse the school for the total cost of any required off-site improvements. Off-site improvements are those improvements not located on the school property, such as the installation of “facilities” within the right-of-way required to satisfy road cross-section requirements. Facilities include roadway construction, pavement installation and medians, ditches and shoulders, storm drainage pipes and culverts, curb and gutter, pedestrian safety signals, street lights, and sidewalks. Improvements do not include any costs for public utilities. Reimbursement can include design and engineering fees, and construction costs. The rules are complicated. If you have questions regarding your specific situation, please contact us.

We also wanted to let you know Amy O’Neal recently joined Stam Law Firm, PLLC. Some of you may remember her. Ms. O’Neal was Paul Stam’s research assistant for several years, when he was Majority Leader and as Speaker Pro Tem of the State house. She is a 2011 graduate of Campbell University and a 2016 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a Juris Doctor and Master of Public Administration. Ms. O’Neal has just completed a clerkship at the North Carolina Court of Appeals.