City Gives UDO Advisory Group More Time

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City of Raleigh

The group in charge of rewriting the city’s zoning code needs more time.

City Councilors Tuesday agreed to postpone a July public hearing and give the Unified Development Ordinance Advisory Group more time to iron out ongoing concerns.

“There continues to be questions about certain aspects of this code that we have not had time to resolve,” said UDO group member Rodney Swink. “We believe that it is critical that sufficient time be set aside for those concerns and questions to be addressed.”

Mayor Charles Meeker said it is likely the project would extend into the next council and that the public hearing would not be held until early 2012.

The Planning Department received almost 400 comments during the two-month public comment period, which ended on June 6. UDO project manager Christine Darges said more than half of the comments — 62 percent — fell into the development standards and residential development categories.

Throughout the different categories, 47 comments were in support, 114 objected to some aspect of the plan, 82 were observations and 148 were listed as “other.” Darges explained that “other” often included a suggestion or direction, whereas observations did not.

“In the beginning we worked with concepts; now we’re getting into details,” Darges said. “We do need enough time to vet those details because that’s when the rubber hits the road and this is law and we have to be careful and not rush it.”

Darges recommended holding off on the public hearing until they could meet with all of the concerned groups and make any necessary changes, giving the public more time to review the draft before the public hearing. Monthly reports would be given to the council on the advisory group’s progress.

Councilman Russ Stephenson said he would still like to see a draft map along with the text.

“Looking at the districts in abstract isn’t the same as looking at them on a site,” he said.

Planning Director Mitch Silver said it was important to focus on the text before the map, but that the maps would align closely with the future land use map.

Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin had questions about the extra time and possible cost implications. Silver said it is not only the volume of work, but the complexity of the work that requires extra time.

Silver said the Planning Department is working with the consultant now to find out if they could continue working without racking up extra fees. However, it is likely that if they reach the cut-off date listed in the current contract, the contract would have to be amended and extra costs would be incurred. He said they do not have an estimate for those costs right now.