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.