Trees, Site Access Complete Council UDO Review

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Raleigh City Councilors have finally completed their review of the new zoning code, which takes effect Sept. 1.

The Unified Development Ordinance was adopted in February, but some items were tabled for discussion.

Councilors approved the final two items — tree conservation and site access — at a special meeting Monday.

Any further changes to the new code will be made through the city’s text change process.

Tree Conservation
As the City of Oaks in the Land of the Pine, Raleigh takes tree conservation seriously. The main point of discussion is where on the priority list do trees along a thoroughfare fall.

Properties that are more than two acres in size must retain 10 percent of the tree stand when developed. Developers go through a checklist of priority protection areas to meet that 10 percent.

For example, champion trees and trees along highways or in riparian buffers are top priority for conservation. All of these trees must be saved, even if they exceed the 10 percent.

If none of these situations occur on a particular site, developers move on to the next checklist until they meet the 10 percent.

Trees along a thoroughfare, such as Glenwood Avenue, were originally placed the second list. Councilors moved those trees to the first list during the initial review process, but continued the placement discussion at last week’s UDO meeting.

Councilors Monday reaffirmed their desire to prioritize these areas and kept them on the first list.

Site Access
Councilors also discussed site access for properties intended for intense development near residential streets.

When a project is being developed, builders must figure out where drivers will enter and exit the property. Sometimes, these entrances and exits end up on small residential streets.

For example, residents in some neighborhoods fear that a developer will purchase a house on a residential lot in order to knock it down to create a private driveway for a nearby business.

Councilors and city planning staff considered measures that would constrain or restrict access on these streets.

According to city policy, in order for that to happen, both sites must be zoned for the primary use of the site.

Planning staff suggested adding the policy to the UDO, which is law, not policy.

“Its new language would prevent you from buying a residential house and punching a driveway through it,” Eric Lamb explained to the Record.

Additionally, driveways on smaller residential streets can only be constructed within 300 feet of an intersection with a thoroughfare such as an avenue, boulevard or parkway.

Multi-unit housing greater than 10 units per acre would be subject to the same restrictions as commercial projects.

But, if a developer wanted to construct a new public street, none of these restrictions apply.

Primary Tree Conservation Areas
-Special Highway Overlay Districts 1 and 2 protective yards (see Sec. 5.3.1).
-Parkway Frontage protective yards (see Sec.3.4.3)
-Conservation Management primary tree conservation areas (see Article 4.2).
-Metro Park Overlay District protective yards (see Sec. 5.2.2).
-A healthy, champion tree and its critical root zone.
-Zone 2 of Neuse River Riparian Buffers, as established in title 15A of the North Carolina Administrative Code subarticle 2B Section .0233.
-Areas with a gradient of 45 percent or greater that are adjacent to or within floodways.
-An undisturbed area adjoining a major or minor thoroughfare designated on the Comprehensive Plan varying in width between 0 and 100 feet; provided that the total undisturbed area is equal to an area measured 50 feet perpendicular to the thoroughfare.

Secondary Tree Conservation Areas
-A minimum 65-foot wide perimeter buffer when the adjoining or adjacent property is not a thoroughfare or is not vacant.
-A minimum 32-foot wide perimeter buffer when the adjoining or adjacent property is vacant.
-The critical root zone of any tree 10 inches or greater in DBH that is located within 50 feet of a thoroughfare or within 65 feet of any non- vacant property boundary or roadway that is not a thoroughfare.
-The critical root zone of any tree 10 inches or greater in DBH that is located within 32 feet of a vacant property boundary.

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