UDO Day 2: Chapter 1 – General Provisions

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The Raleigh planning department released its draft Unified Development Ordinance April 6. The public had until June 6 to make comments before a public hearing June 7. In order to understand what’s in this new zoning code, the Record is reading it cover to cover and will be writing about what we find six days a week. We hope you’ll join us as we work to figure out how this new set of regulations will affect development and growth in Raleigh for decades to come. Have questions or comments? Use the Contact link above or leave a comment below. We will do our best to answer each and every question you have about the code.

“This code applies to all land, buildings, structures, and uses located within the within the corporate limits and the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city of Raleigh, North Carolina.”

That’s the second paragraph of the first chapter for the Unified Development Ordinance. Just think about that graph for a second as we embark on an effort to read this new code cover to cover. This document will be the guiding regulation for all new development in Raleigh.

An advisory group has been working to develop the new code along with the planning department and consultants. They started work on the code on the heels of finishing the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which is a descriptive document saying how Raleigh should grow in the coming decades. The UDO puts the vision and action items from the comp plan into law. The UDO is the “will” to the comp plan’s “should.”

The first page of Chapter 1 in the draft says the comp plan serves as the “policy guide for the administration of this code.”

A couple highlights from Chapter 1:

  • Section 1.1.7 says that when the code conflicts with city, state or federal or any other regulations, the more restrictive provision applies.
  • Section 1.2.2 says that when zoning boundaries are questioned, it’s up to the city zoning director to interpret those boundaries.
  • Article 1.3 gives all the different zoning districts available across the city.
  • Article 1.4 has some amusing (for those of us reading the UDO) graphics representing and defining what structures are. For example, a detached house, mixed-use building or civil building. Page 5 also has a graphic representation of an open lot. It looks like someone may be camping on that lot.
  • Article 1.5 has some interesting reading. That section defines how the city measured things like setbacks and building heights. It defines building featured like bay windows and all the different kinds of garages that can be on a property.


Friday we will start digging into the meat of this code with Chapter 2: Residential Districts.

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