UDO Day 12: My, What a Tall Building You Have

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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.

Article 3.2 of the UDO talks about what kind of buildings are allowed in each kind of district and lists the requirements for those buildings. Below is a nifty chart that has each building type and what district it’s allowed to be in. For specifics, check out Article 3.2.

Click to view full size.

Now that you’ve learned a little about the different types of mixed-use districts there are, and what kind of buildings are allowed there, we’ll move into talking about how tall the buildings in these districts will be.

Currently, there are no hard and fast rules that dictate the maximum height of a building in a particular area. The larger the lot, the taller the building could be.

Greg Hallam, of the zoning department, said that generally speaking, non-residential areas have a maximum height 40 to 50 feet as measured from the setback line. An additional foot of height could be given for every one foot of additional setback provided.

“It works contrary to good urban design,” said Hallam. “Because then you have just have a tall building in the middle of a lot surrounded by a sea of parking. “

The UDO would change all of that, by giving each mixed-use district a height designation. This designation would establish the maximum height for the district. The 3-story designation is the default limit for mixed-use districts.

This chart shows the height designations in stories and in feet. Click to view full size.

Each height designation has an intended use for a specific area. A developer couldn’t put a 40-story building in a residential mixed-use area. That designation is intended for the core areas of a central business district and is compatible with that land use category.

Some height designations are more appropriate for a lower density area, whereas others would be found in a higher density area. Height designations can also be use to transition from a lower density area to a higher density area. The 5-story designation is intended for medium-density residential, neighborhood mixed use and office-residential mixed use but it can be use on the edges of higher density districts like high density residential and community mixed use.

Thursday, we’ll take on frontages, and stay tuned for more information on those tricky transitions.

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