The advisory group working to craft a new comprehensive zoning code wants more time to finish their work. The group’s chair this week asked for additional time so the public could digest the document, but the Raleigh City Council denied the request.
Councilors did say that they would consider extending the 60-day comment period and delaying the public hearing if they get too many complaints that residents don’t have enough time. The new zoning code will be the regulatory platform guiding Raleigh’s development for the next several decades.
[pullquote]We should not push at breakneck speed; we need to take a step back. ~City Councilman Thomas Crowder[/pullquote]
The draft Unified Development Ordinance, UDO for short, is scheduled to be released on April 6 and the city plans to take public comments until June 6. City councilors will hold a public hearing in July or August, and could potentially pass the new code before the October election.
In his regular report to city council this week, UDO advisory group chair Rodney Swink listed several concerns about the timeframe to release the new code.
First and foremost, Swink said, the 60-day window will not be long enough for residents to fully review and comment on the draft. Swink also said that the group thought that the zoning map, which shows how each parcel across the city is zoned, should be released at the same time.
Swink said that without the map the public won’t be able to “fully engage” the new zoning code as they did for the 2030 Comprehensive Plan a year ago.
The public, Swink said, “won’t support that which they can’t understand.”
Councilor Thomas Crowder agreed with Swink’s assessment. “We should not push at breakneck speed; we need to take a step back,” he said.
“I just want to make sure the public has adequate time to understand this,” Crowder said.
Mayor Charles Meeker disagreed with calling the current timeframe “breakneck speed.”
Meeker encouraged everyone who wanted to have a say in the new code to start reading it in April to submit their comments within the 60-day window.
The councilors agreed to assess the public comments in June to decide whether it will be necessary to extend the comment period and push back the hearing.
Planning Director Mitchell Silver said that the zoning map will not be ready for the public comment period, but he said the planning department is preparing a set of documents to make the code easier to understand.