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Nov 01

Question 10: Why are we changing the UDO?

Posted on November 1, 2017 at 12:35 PM by Waxhaw Communications

QUESTION 10: Why are we changing the UDO?  

ANSWER:  “UDO” stands for “Unified Development Ordinance”. Zoning isn’t the coolest topic but it is key to figuring out what gets built where in Waxhaw. Apartments or a drive-thru restaurant? Storage units? Those decisions come down to what the land is zoned for and what changes can happen.

The Town began this journey in early 2016. Like anything that was originally done in 2002, our UDO needs to be updated and modernized. Things have changed. We need to add some uses and remove others. We need to clarify definitions. The current code is cumbersome, frustrating both community members who often want more clarity and transparency and developers, who want more clarity and flexibility. We are now in the third phase where staff and the consultants are reviewing and finalizing the draft ordinance. Phase four will be when the draft ordinance meets public scrutiny.

The rewrite will reconstruct the existing code, clarifying and it, so that an audience other than land-use attorneys and developers could navigate it with relative ease.

The new code will be a “hybrid”—a combination of what’s called a “form-based code” and the conventional single-use zoning codes that have dominated cities and towns for 75 years. Form-based thinking emphasizes the public spaces in a city and aims to create streets that are welcoming to all, not just motorists. It encourages development based on city blocks and districts rather than development parcels. It also encourages arranging buildings in a more urban pattern, closer to the street and sidewalk, instead of setting them behind parking lots or other unused spaces. Although single-use zoning may still find a place in the new ordinance, it will be within the context of making stronger urban places.

Rewriting a development code is complex both technically and politically. Waxhaw’s continual growth complicates the effort. The final product will be comprehensive. The goal is to align seamlessly with other ordinances, such as our tree ordinance and storm water ordinance.