Have you tried to understand the planning and zoning codes in the Charlotte area? If you have, you might find that there are overlapping and conflicting zoning and land use policies that can make filing for a permit a complicated job. The city aims to change all of that with the new Unified Development Ordinance or UDO. The rough draft of the plan has been published and is now available for public comment. 

The UDO is the most comprehensive update to the current ordinances which have been in place for around 30 years or longer in some cases. The city has grown dramatically in that time so updates are definitely needed. This can make things easier for homeowners and developers alike, but the changes need to be fair, clearly written, and actually fix what they aim to fix.

Some of the changes to the current code are for clarification of language. Unclear language can be a big problem if it changes if you can get a permit to build or not. To help clarify where language may not be enough, there will be images as part of the UDO. This can be for everything from details about sidewalks, to handicapped access, to where and how you can build a structure, to transit corridors, to manufacturing. It is truly a comprehensive ordinance.

The Unified Development Ordinance is important not just to unify code and language use. It is important also because it is the roadmap for how the city will achieve the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. The Plan calls for equitable growth and development for the city of Charlotte for the next 20 years.

One of the hot button issues of the UDO is the plan to make housing denser, like adding duplexes and triplexes in neighborhoods currently zoned for single-family only housing. This would boost affordable housing in the city because of rules outlined for example if you build a quadraplex on a lot, at least one unit would be reserved for a family earning up to 80% of the area median income. Many people oppose this change because it could change the character of neighborhoods, and change can be unsettling. Many proponents of the plan cite that affordable options are hard to come by in the city which pushes the less affluent people out of town causing long commutes to jobs. The end result was the 2040 Plan being controversial so that it narrowly passed in City Council by a 6-5 vote.

You can find a copy of the 680 page UDO document and can submit public comments on this first draft at www.publicinput.com/charlotteudo. Hard copies will be at the Charlotte Public Library and YMCA branches in the coming weeks for those without access online. You have until January 14th to have your voice heard about this issue. City leaders expect the final document to be approved in July of 2022 which gives them a few months after the public comment period completes to draft the proposed changes and get to a final copy.