important element of placemaking

Other UDO Conversations

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Tom Miller: Neighbor’s right under attack NEW!


By Tom Miller
Guest column
News & Observer

The General Assembly began its 2015 session on Jan. 28, and almost immediately neighborhood leaders were put on notice to expect another bill to repeal a neighbor’s time-honored right to oppose a rezoning with an official protest petition. That bill, House Bill 201, has now cleared the House and is awaiting consideration by the N. C. Senate.

Under North Carolina law, if the owners of 5 percent of the ring of property 100 feet deep surrounding land to be rezoned file a formal protest petition, it takes a super majority of three-fourths of the members of the city council to pass the rezoning. The protest petition right in North Carolina is as old as zoning itself. It was conceived as part of model zoning legislation promulgated by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1921 in the early years of President Warren Harding’s administration. The country was rapidly urbanizing, but without stable and reliable systems of land-use regulation, U. S. cities were unsafe for investment. Developers of hotels and new home subdivisions were reluctant to risk the money if someone could build a factory or fish market next door.

UDO Element: 
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Councilor Thomas Crowder's Point of View About Z-2-2014 and the Comprehensive Plan


Comp Plan Guidance, or Policy:

The 2030 Comprehensive Plan and its Future Land Use Map are the foundation for our citizen’s vision for Raleigh’s future.  It is the framework, building on over eight years of work to create the city’s new zoning code, the Uniform Development Ordinance (UDO).  Thousands of citizen and staff hours and the expenditure of millions of dollars were spent to make this consensus “Policy” document.  It provides the legal framework required by state law to orderly zone and rezone properties to justify the city’s land use future.  Exceptions should ONLY be made when it is in the public’s best interest (need) to vary from this policy document.  There has been absolutely no articulation why this project is in the public’s interest above and beyond the numerous other projects previously approved, have been submitted for review, or are in the planning stages; all being in compliance with the Comp Plan.

 Comprehensive Plan Consistency:

 This case is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan regarding the height (story) limitations.  The plan calls for three-stories in Neighborhood Mixed-Use (NX) zoning districts.  Exceptions are made to increase the height to four and five-stories in Transit Overlay Districts (TOD’s), “Traditional Walking Streets” and locations on high frequency bus transit routes.  Higher than five stories is not noted nor recommended in the plan for this zoning district.  The plan also recognizes minimum “Stories” at “Edge” conditions (within 150-feet of low density residential (neighborhood) zoned districts, four-stories at the “Middle” and a maximum of five-stories at the “CORE” of transit oriented developments.  “Stories” AND a maximum height in feet are defined in the plan, IS NOT stories, OR height in feet.  This project is within 150-feet of a low density residential zoning district; however city staff has given greater weight to the transit core, an abnormality when interpreting codes.  Industry standards call for the most restrictive code or zoning language have standing.

UDO Element: 
Hot Topic: 
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No substantive justification for the approval of the Hillsborough Street project (Z-002-2014)


The 2030 Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) have been written with more specificity to enable the City Council, Planning Commission and Planning Department to make objective decision when reviewing development cases. Yet, during the City Council’s discussion of the Hillsborough Street case at its June 17 meeting, the following were some of the statements made to justify the 5 to 3 vote for approval:

  • I like that the developer collaborated with the church
  • It seems reasonable and in the public interest
  • I heard from more people supporting the project
  • We need more density

(click on the videos below to view the City Council’s discussions of this case)

UDO Element: 
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City Council appears divided over the role of the Comprehensive Plan


After nearly 8 years of effort and several million dollars in spending on the 2030 Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), it's discouraging to see the current confusion and frustration over the use of the Comprehensive Plan.

North Carolina's General Statute 160A-383  states…

Zoning regulations shall be made in accordance with a comprehensive plan. When adopting or rejecting any zoning amendment, the governing board shall also approve a statement describing whether its action is consistent with an adopted comprehensive plan and any other officially adopted plan that is applicable, and briefly explaining why the board considers the action taken to be reasonable and in the public interest.

Section 1.1.4.A of Raleigh's Unified Development Ordinance states…

This UDO is adopted to preserve, protect and promote the public health, safety and general welfare of residents and businesses in the City. More specifically, this UDO is adopted to achieve the following objectives:

A. Implement the policies and goals contained within officially adopted plans, including the Comprehensive Plan;

The City's 2030 Comprehensive Plan is comparable to a corporation's strategic plan. It provides clear goals, policies and actions that will help the City grow successfully in the future. Unless the City Council reaches a reasonable consensus over the role the Comprehensive Plan, the promise of a more predictable and efficient process for the review of development cases will never be realized.

UDO Element: 
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TONIGHT...7 PM: Raleigh CAC learns about the rollout of the new RaleighUDO


The City of Raleiegh Planning Staff will be holding an information session on the UDO at a meeting of the Raleigh Citizen Advisory Council on Wednesday, May 15, at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chamber on the second floor of the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett St. 

This meeting will be broadcast live on RTN11, channel 11 on the TWC network. It can also be viewed over the internet on RTNSV.

A UDO hotline has been set up at 919-996-2580 to address specific questions about the UDO.

UDO Element: 
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Conceptual Designs for the Peace Street Corridor


 On First Friday, May 3, students from the College of Design at North Carolina State University will present their conceptual designs for the revitalization of the Peace Street corridor. The exhibit will be located at the City Museum, 220 Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. On First Friday, the exhibit will be open from 6:00 - 9:00 PM. The exhibit will remain at the museum for a month and can be viewed during the normal hours of operation.

UDO Element: 
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