Committee approves new interchanges and tougher development policy

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The amendments to the 2030 comprehensive plan approved by the Raleigh City Council’s comprehensive planning committee Wednesday will map out more than 20 new interchanges in Raleigh, while restricting development in the mapped areas. The amendments will go to the city council for final approval at its meeting next Tuesday.

The new interchanges were added to the comprehensive plan because at the time the plan was adopted several other corridor plans, which contained recommendations for the new interchanges, were retired due to redundancy.

The new policy language which the amendment introduces, “gives teeth to hold developers to less of a footprint in the designated areas,” one city staffer said during the meeting.

Hillsborough St. streetscape and parking plan deferred

The committee also voted to not go ahead with a specific plan for Hillsborough Street which would limit building height, mandate appropriate building frontages, and design custom parking regulations.

The  committee decided to hold off on any plan because the city is currently drafting a Unified Development Ordinance. City planners said that the zoning code will likely address the details of any specific Hillsborough Street plan, making any such plan redundant.

Tree conservation ordinance reviewed

The committee approved several amendments to the city’s tree conservation ordinance, which were the result of a review by the Planning Commission that took place, as scheduled, two years after the ordinance’s inception.

The amendments include broadening the definition of a “heritage tree,” by decreasing the diameter requirement from 24” to 12”, which will help to include thinner varieties of tree such as Birch and Crepe Myrtle. Giving landowners a “no-mow” option, as opposed to tree planting, and clarifying the conditions for prosecuting unlawful tree-disturbing activity were also part of the approved amendment package.

Committee says no to giving planning commission more authority

Appropriating the necessary funds for an updated tree conservation user’s manual and designating the planning commission as the hearing board for landscape ordinance disputes between property owners and the city were also among the changes to the tree conservation ordinance suggested by the planning commission.

Updates to the manual, which the planning commission maintains are required to make the manual more accessible to laymen, were deferred to the City Council budget committee.

Currently, all disputes of interpretation between property owners and the city come before the Board of Adjustment. City staffers maintained that un-streamlining the process would only add complications to the system.

Councilor Bonner Gaylord, a former member of the planning commission, suggested that a property owner winning a positive judgment before the Board of Adjustment was almost unheard of. But despite the planning commission’s argument that it would be able to provide more “give and take” as the the hearing body, that part of the amendment was struck down unanimously.

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