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A New Day: Raleigh UDO Goes Live

It’s a new day in Raleigh.  On September 1, 2013, the Unified Development Ordinance, the first complete overhaul of the City’s zoning ordinance in 40 years, went into effect.

The new ordinance strives to promote mixed use development, encourage walkability, bicycles and mass transit and move closer to form based rather than use based zoning.

The City’s paid consultants, Planning Staff, council-appointed Advisory Committee, Planning Commission and City Council, as well as private development groups and private citizens, have spent countless hours drafting, vetting, reviewing and revising the 459 page UDO.  All would probably agree that it is not yet perfect, but it is time to put it into effect to allow practical application to reveal what’s good, what’s bad and what’s ugly about the UDO.  The powers that be acknowledge and agree that over the next year or so, the UDO will need to be adjusted and tweaked to address the real-world issues that arise after the UDO goes into effect.

Low density residential districts R-2, R-4 and R-6 will keep their current zoning designation since those same R-2, R-4 and R-6 districts exist in both the old Code and the new UDO.  For all other districts, known as “Legacy Districts,” City Planning Staff is now working diligently on the re-mapping such Legacy Districts (R-10 or higher) to new UDO zoning district designations (the “Re-mapping”). For instance, a Shopping Center (SC) zoned property will likely be re-mapped to CX or Commercial Mixed Use.

Over the past few months UDO watchers have been focused on three different time bands as follows:

Pre September 1.  Although the UDO was approved by City Council in February, it did not go into effect until the September 1 effective date.  Before the effective date the old zoning code still applied and will continue to apply to completed zoning, subdivision and site plan applications submitted (but not necessarily approved) prior to September 1.

Post September 1 But Before Re-mapping.  After the September 1 effective date, Chapter 8 (Subdivision and Site Plan Standards), Chapter 9 (Natural Resources) and part of Chapter 10 (Administration) of the UDO will apply to all new projects except those submitted before September 1.

Other than those three Chapters, the old Code will generally apply to Legacy Districts until they are re-mapped.

The aspects of Chapters 8 and 9 which apply to all districts as of September 1 and will impose the most significant changes and impacts are the provisions related to Street standards in Chapter 8 and those addressing Tree Conservation in Section 9.4.  It should be noted that in conjunction with the adoption of the UDO, the City also revamped its Streets, Sidewalks and Driveway Access  Handbook which is now known as the Street Design Manual and through changes to the Comprehensive Plan modified its Thoroughfare Plan, which is now known as the Streets Typology Map.

Post Re-mapping.  After the effective date of the Re-mapping, the entire UDO will apply to all new projects.  City Planners expect the Re-mapping to be completed in late 2014 or early 2015.