Category: UDO (Page 1 of 2)

Coming Soon: New Rules for Development in Raleigh

UDOLogoSix years ago, the City of Raleigh took on the challenging task of overhauling its aging development regulations. The current regulations were written over 50 years ago to support suburban growth. The new regulations are written to support more urban forms of development and create more objective standards for greater predictability and quicker approvals of development plans. Another important feature is the customization of many standards to better fit different types of development.

The first phase of the project involved a rewrite of the City’s comprehensive plan. This plan defines policies that create the framework for the new development regulations. The Raleigh City Council approved the 2030 Comprehensive Plan in the fall of 2009. Immediately after its adoption, work began on the new development regulations. These regulations are officially called the Unified Development Ordinance or UDO

After two years of work on a draft document, the City released it last February for public comment. The Raleigh Planning Commission spent six months reviewing the proposed regulations and presented its recommendations to the City Council in September. The City Council hopes to approve the UDO during the first quarter of 2013.

The City Council has struggled with several issues…

  • Accessory dwelling units: The introduction of the backyard cottage has received both good and bad reviews. More information is available here.
  • Residential building heights: The new rules will measure the 40 foot height limit for residential homes at the ridge rather than the midpoint of the roof.
  • Infrastructure: New rules are needed to ensure the City has adequate funding to build new and replace old infrastructure.
  • Frontloaded garages: The façades of homes in some subdivisions are dominated by garage doors. The intent is to create rules that improve the appearance and safety in residential neighborhoods.
  • Open space: As the city becomes denser, it’s important to ensure adequate open space is preserved. Open space is an important asset that adds to the character and livability of the City.

The new regulations will become effective approximately six months after the City Council approves them. However, the actual use of the new regulations will vary. In many of the existing residential areas of the city, the new regulations will be used immediately. In other areas, especially the commercial districts where the new urban rules will have the greatest impact, new regulations will be phased in over 12 to 18 months.

UDO Update: Raleigh Planning Commission to begin their review on March 13.

The Planning Commission begins its review of Raleigh’s new development regulations, the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) draft, on Tuesday, March 13.  The Commission will meet weekly for the next 14 weeks, including 3 evening meetings, which will provide more opportunities for public participation.  The complete schedule is available here.  Each chapter in the schedule is linked to the PDF file for the chapter.

WHAT: Meeting #1, a review of Chapter 1: Introductory Provisions. This chapter describes 8 building types and includes a table showing what building types are allowed in each zoning district.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 13, immediately after the completion of the regular Planning Commission meeting. The UDO review will probably begin between 10:30 and 11:00 am. You can monitor the status of the meeting on RTN11, channel 11 on the Time Warner Cable Network.

WHERE: 222 West Hargett Street, City Council Chamber

Comments can be submited to Christine Darges,

Phone: (919) 516-2634

Resource Links:

New UDO Zoning District “Downtown Mixed Use District” will soon become the law. Here’s what it says . . .

This is a chance for Downtown Raleigh residents to change hats, and imagine how urban planners prepare the ground for future city development.  What is critical to preserve, and what ensures an environment that is both business and resident friendly?  

Like other zoning districts within the new Unified Development Code (UDO), the Downtown Mixed Use zoning district will not just guide the future development of our city, it will define in great detail what can be done, and where.

Downtown mixed use coding is intended to accommodate the most intense mixed use and mixed housing options in the city, and implement the Central Business District land use category within Raleigh’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

First, it’s important to note that old mixed use categories are replaced with new districts.

All types of buildings are permitted within a Downtown Mixed Use District, except for attached and detached housing.  

* Use of frontages may increase height and intensity opportunities (see below).  ** Transparency = minimum % of windows and doors that must cover a ground or upper story facade

Let’s consider the issue of allowable frontages.  A number of frontage designations have been prepared to address a variety of desired development patterns.

Frontage designations


The zoning maps implemented as part of the UDO are parcel specific, allowing for a variety of mixed use districts to be constructed by applying different height and frontage configurations.

Example: [DX- 5-SH] = Downtown Mixed Use, up to 5 stories with shopfront required

Neighborhood compatibility standards

Another issue is considering neighborhood compatibility standards.  These apply in the mixed use districts and may require a buffer (landscaping, wall or fence) or restrict use, height and form when the following occurs:

  1. site immediately abuts or is within 50 feet of a residential district boundary
  2. the abutting or adjacent property is zoned to accommodate a detached or attached house that is zoned for residential purposes only

In order to regulate use, categories of uses have been established.  Use categories classify land uses and activities based on common functional, product or physical characteristics.  View the table here.

Next Steps

After the public comment period ends on June 6th, the Planning Staff will report back to City Council later in the month.  Using the information gathered, City Council will decide if the draft is ready for the “official” public hearing originally scheduled for July 19th.  The current expectation is that the UDO will be approved by year end, and will become law effective January 1, 2012.

If you would like to post your own comments on this topic, go to the UDO website where you will find this article posted.  But you’ll need to act fast as the public comment period is only open for another week (until June 6th).

This is a lot to wade through, but as residents, we are uniquely qualified to present the local, personal response to what others might imagine in arbitrary, schematic guidelines.  If any of these guidelines run counter to your sensing, as one who lives in the space that others are contouring for future development, your voice is needed.  Please contribute your very valuable feedback while it can still be acted upon.

Thanks for being a mover and shaker in Raleigh!  All it requires is the time it takes to reflect on how these charts might apply to your neighborhood.  Thanks for your input.



Links to Related Documents

Downtown Zoning MapThis is a Downtown view of the color coded zoning map that will be replaced when the UDO codes are eventually applied to create a new map.

Other UDO DocumentsThese include the full draft of the UDO Consolidated Draft.


UDO Open Houses to education residents about proposed new development regulations

To help you become more informed about the new development regulations (UDO) proposed for the City of Raleigh, the open houses are designed to give you variety of educational opportunities,


  • Large display boards highlighting major sections of the new regulations
  • Maps showing the current zoning for all areas of the City
  • Charts comparing the difference between the current and proposed zoning districts
  • Results of test cases from recent CAC workshop
  • Resource tables for the following…
    • 2030 Comprehensive Plan
    • New residential districts being proposed for the City
    • Mixed use centers, an important new form of development proposed for the City
    • Mapping, a process that will convert  the existing zoning districts to the new zoning districts
    • Various types of streets and building frontages
    • New transition regulations to help protect residential areas

Approximately halfway through the open house, Code Studio, the lead consultant writing the UDO, will make a presentation and then give you the opportunity to ask questions.

These workshops are all about helping the City get the “right rules in the right places” so the City can grow better, not just bigger. Details for the 3 open houses are available here.

You’ll want to check out the RaleighUDO website and follow them on Twitter to learn more.

Two month window for public review of UDO: what you need to know about upcoming workshops and web resources

You may have attended one of the neighborhood meetings or offered feedback in the fall of 2009 when the city initiated the process of rewriting long standing development codes, in an effort to codify a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).  (We first wrote about it on this blog back in November of 2009.)  

This has been a huge effort, since many of the current regulations were put in place fifty years ago, with hundreds of individual code updates since then resulting in an overly complicated development process.    

Now this process is at the point of being wrapped up, and this is what makes your renewed attention critical: 

what is allowed in the new UDO will be allowed to be built without any public review, or comment”.

This all started with the city’s major initiative launched four years ago to update its comprehensive plan – here’s the original timetable.

But unlike the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which is a guide for future development in Raleigh, the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is LAW, dictating allowable heights, setbacks, land uses, transitions, landscaping buffers; etc. across the city.  

So what does all this mean . . . Raleigh City Councilman Thomas Crowder puts it this way.  “The large majority of new development in the future is being recommended by the Planning Director to be staff approved, rather than approved by the Planning Commission and/or City Council.  In other words, what is allowed in the new UDO will be allowed to be built without any public review, or comment”.

And, what’s happening now . . An initial consolidated draft of the UDO will be released on April 6.  The public will then have two months to let the City know what it thinks.  An open house for the Public Review of the UDO draft has been set up at different times on April 20-21.  

In addition to the three sessions offered by the Department of City Planning, the Triangle Community Coalition will sponsor a UDO workshop and lunch on April 21st starting at 11:30am at the Urban Design Center.  Register here.

Philip Poe, a DLA Core Group member, is representing the interests of residents on the UDO Advisory Group.  Philip has just released several web based tools to help residents get engaged in the process. This website will help you learn about the UDO and give you an opportunity to add comments to content publish on the site. 

RaleighUDO on Facebook and RaleighUDO on Twitter: These web tools will be used to alert the public about upcoming events, special announcements and new posts on the website. 

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