With the new year starting, I thought it was a good time to find out what’s going on at Raleigh’s Department of City Planning for 2010. Lots of folks spent countless hours on the 2030 Comprehensive Plan last year and Raleigh’s New Development Code is ramping up. I sent Mitchell Silver, Director, Department of City Planning & Urban Design Center and Ken Bowers, Deputy Director, Department of City Planning the following questions to see what’s on tap for 2010.
1) Why is Raleigh’s New Development Code so important?
Planning and development regulations should be regularly reviewed and updated due to such things as new development trends and new environmental legislation. Although the City’s Zoning Code and Subdivision Regulations have been continually updated in an effort to stay modern, numerous sections of the Zoning Code still represent the development regulations put in place 50 years ago (i.e. parking requirements, minimum setbacks, maximum building height). Many of the current standards have become dated and hundreds of individual Code updates throughout the years have resulted in an overly complicated set of regulations.
Additionally, the City has recently adopted the new 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which became effective on November 1, 2009. The Comprehensive Plan contains more than 120 action items recommending changes to the City’s Planning and Development Regulations to implement the Plan’s growth policies. The current regulations too often result in development patterns contrary to Plan goals, while requiring a difficult and protracted process in order to gain approval to develop in accordance with the Plan. A significant revision to the City’s Planning and Development Regulations is necessary for future development to reflect the goals, visions and recommendations of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan.
- Raleigh’s New Development Code project summary
- Raleigh’s New Development Code project background
- Raleigh’s New Development Code project timeline
2) How is the New Development Code tied to the 2030 Comprehensive plan?
The Comprehensive Plan contains over 120 action items that require changes to the City’s development codes for implementation. The City’s consultants are looking at each and every one as part of their scope for the Code rewrite. These actions provide a direct link between Plan policies and the new code. The new code is the largest single undertaking implementing the Comprehensive Plan.
3) How can citizens get involved and provide input to Raleigh’s New Development Code?
Similar to the Comprehensive Plan, input will be accepted in any and all forms, but the most structured methods will be to attend a public workshop, and to comment on interim and draft documents on-line. Comments will be compiled by staff and the consultants will work with staff to address and incorporate comments received.
In the coming months, the City will be publishing two consultant reports for public review and comment. The Diagnostic report contains an analysis of the City’s current codes, what right and what’s wrong, and what needs to be fixed. The Coding Approach report will set forth the proposed approach to rewriting the code, including recommendations regarding code format and organization, best practices, mapping, and other components.
The Diagnostic and Approach reports will set the direction of the remainder of the code drafting effort. We cannot stress enough how critical it is for the public to carefully review and comment upon these documents. The scope, timeline and budget for this project do not allow for last minute changes in direction. Code drafting will not proceed until City staff and the consultants have a sense of agreement on the approach for moving forward with a modern, 21st Century development code.
For more information about the public process, please refer to the New Development Code FAQ.
4) What were the goals for the Planning Department in 2009 and were they met on-time and on-budget?
The Planning Department has standing goals that remain the same from year to year: Create a City of Lasting Value, Design a 21st Century City and Build a Legacy for the Future. The department develops a work plan each year. In 2009, the Department completed the Comprehensive Plan Update on time and on budget. Other accomplishments included the Five Points Charrette, PBOD Parking Modifications, Zoning Handbook Revision, TC-19-08 Multifamily Infill Approval Process, and Raleigh Historic Districts Commission website.
Other Planning Department accomplishments can be found in the 2009 Planning Department/ Planning Commission Annual Report. The annual report includes a list of major site plans, text changes and other projects such as the Moore Square Design Competition and the ground work for the Unified Development Ordinance process.
5) What are the major goals for the Planning Department in 2010?
The priority projects for the Planning Department in 2010 include:
- Unified Development Ordinance,
- completion on the Mutli-Modal Study,
- Comprehensive Plan Implementation,
- Census 2010,
- an Incentives Study,
- the creation of 3D Visualization tools,
- a Regional Land Use Plan,
- Station Area Planning for the 12 Transit Oriented Districts in Raleigh,
- a Gateway Plan for Capital Boulevard,
- a Gateway Plan for New Bern Avenue,
- a revaluation of the adopted Redevelopment Plans,
- a plan for the Jones Franklin/Western/Hillsborough intersection and
- an area study for Hillsborough/West Morgan Area.
Bonus: What’s your favorite part about Raleigh?
We don’t have a favorite part. We enjoy the entire City of Raleigh.
Thank you Mitchell and Ken for taking the time to address these questions. And a note for our readers, I sent these questions to Mitchell and Ken on Tuesday morning, January 12, 2010. The responses were in my inbox before 5:00 PM. Great response time and well-thought out questions from Raleigh’s Department of City Planning.