In my view the sorry history of sprawling land use in the US is ample testimony to the abject failure of local control to address what are frequently regional issues. Our system of highly fragmented land use control - especially in suburban municipalities - is a major contributor to economic, social, and environmental harm. Regional authority over local governments might be better than state control but, given a choice between continuing to trust local governments to get it right and trusting the state, I'll take the state.
I like the way California is moving with SB 375 - regional planning agencies set the broad outlines within which municipalities must operate; the munis may then construct local plans and decisions but must conform to the regional frameworks. And the state must certify that the regional frameworks are sufficient to meet assigned carbon-reduction targets. And as you probably know, new urbanists affiliated with CNU are closely involved with the regional planning.
This is roughly comparable to the situation in Ontario, where the province, working with locals, has constructed an enforceable land use plan for a New Hampshire-sized region including Toronto and Hamilton. If the munis do not adopt rules consistent with the regional plan, the province can step in and enforce it. Peter Calthorpe and I have both called it the best land-use plan on the continent.
I don't know the details of the NC law, but the overall concept of regional, state or provincial authority over land use isn't bizarre, but rather the way that most countries in the world - including some with much more sustainable and urbanist patterns of land use than ours - do it. I'm surprised to see CNU defend the current arrangement, when our movement is supposed to be about change.