UDO Day 10: What’s missing and learning more

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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.

Sorry for the late Day 10 post; you may have heard there was a little breaking news that needed our attention during the weekend. We’re getting back to it today. Starting tomorrow, Record reporter Ariella Monti will take over to cover Chapters 3 and 4 and Editor Charles Duncan will be back next week to pick up where she left off.

The last two days we paused in our cover-to-cover read of the new Unified Development Ordinance to jump ahead to Chapter 11 and look at the changing duties for the Planning Department, Planning Commission, Board of Adjustments and City Council. The gist of Chapter 11 is that a lot more development proposals will get administrative approval instead of going through a more political approval process.

There’s one more question we should answer before we get back to reading through the UDO: What’s missing?

According to the Planning Department’s Christine Darges, there are three pieces that either aren’t written or need more information: Transit Oriented Development Districts, street cross sections in Chapter 8 and Planned Development Districts.

Darges says she hopes the additional material will be released for public review by May 6. She said the Planning Department hopes to make an announcement next week about the release date.

Let’s take these missing pieces one at a time.

The big one is the Transit Oriented Development District. If you check out Article 5.5, the last page of Chapter 5, there is nothing written under the heading for Transit Overlays.

Darges said the TOD was not in the original scope of the plan and the Planning Department staff thought the rest of the plan would cover anything necessary for this kind of district. She said the TOD section is a “straight-forward ordinance, we just need to put it in writing.”

On the streets section, Darges said the City Council added an additional $30,000 to the effort last year to update and revise the Street, Sidewalk and Driveway Handbook that the Public Works Department uses — while simultaneously writing the UDO. She said rewriting those rules in tandem with the UDO has caused delays with that part of the code.

For the Planned Development District, Darges called this section “a little bit unique.” The draft UDO said the PDD “is intended to allow innovative and imaginative projects that generate amenities beyond those expected in conventional development.”

Darges said it’s taking a little extra time because, “Citizens and the development community want very specific information about what’s in that district.”

Darges said the 60-day comment window that ends June 6 will not be the only chance for the public to give input on the UDO. The City Council plans to hold a public hearing July 7 and, Darges said, “The document can continue to change over the next 6 to 12 months.”

She also said the Planning Department hopes to send the new zoning code to the full City Council this fall.

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