UDO Day 8: Who decides what?

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The Raleigh Planning Department released its draft Unified Development Ordinance April 6. The public has 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.

Before we dig any deeper into the draft of the new zoning code, we should probably skip ahead to Chapter 11 and figure out which boards and bodies will be responsible for what kinds of things. Greg Hallam with the Raleigh Planning Department walked us through the major changes in responsibilities by phone Thursday.

Check out Page 9 below to see a chart of which bodies of government are responsible for approving what.

Hallam said the mission of the new code is to “put the right rules in the right place” and turn what are currently subjective standards into objective rules.

Hallam said site plans and special use permits are the two biggies.

Site plans first: under the current code site plans for commercial properties have to go to the Planning Commission and ultimately City Council for approval. A site plan is essentially the architectural and engineering proposal for building on a lot.

Under the new code, the vast majority of site plans will receive administrative approval, meaning they will be approved by Planning Department staff.

“The net effect is that all site plans will have more rules and it will sift everything down to administration,” Hallam said.

The only time site plans will go to the Planning Commission is when a developer appeals an administrative decision or, in Hallam’s words, “wants to do something really out of the box.”

Next, special use permits. Hallam said right now about 80 percent of special use permits go to the Board of Adjustments and the remaining 20 percent go to City Council.

Special use permits, meaning permits for things like telecommunications towers, outdoor stadiums, helicopter landing pads and other things, will now all go to the Board of Adjustments.

This does not include things such as outdoor amplified noise permits, which are not part of the zoning code.

Friday we will dig into the whys and wherefores of these changes. Hint: politics.


Chapter 11

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