Zebulon readies for Unified Development Ordinance project

amoody@newsobserver.comDecember 24, 2013 

— The ball is rolling on the creation of a new set of land use rules designed to simplify and update Zebulon’s 28-year-old code of ordinances.

Once completed, a Unified Development Ordinance will serve as a single-source manual for all things related to development in town. That makes what goes into the UDO a matter of importance to the public, according to Zebulon Planning Director Mark Hetrick.

“In the end it directly affects everyone, from residents to the development community, with regards to whether or not they want to add a carport to their house, or build a new house, or look at a development,” Hetrick said. “A lot of (public) feedback will be used in crafting those development regulations.”

Hetrick said some portions of the current code of ordinances, adopted in 1985, are outdated and others have become obscure as the code has been amended numerous times over the years.

He named specific issues like unclear review procedures and permitting requirements, contradictory and outdated standards, and the lack of some graphics and illustrations and clear definitions.

“It’s inconsistent and a little confusing for those not used to using it,” Hetrick said of the current code. “(The UDO) will update some of the outdated, unclear current regulations that make it easier to understand.”

The estimated cost of Zebulon’s UDO project is $125,000. Work on the policy is tentatively scheduled to begin in late January and estimated to take 18 months to complete. Hetrick said a hard project schedule will be set next month.

The first phase will mainly involve reconnaissance – discussing ordinance issues, reviewing policy and procedures, discussing regulations and surveying the community. Phases two and three will cover formatting a draft of the UDO, public review and adoption of the ordinance.

Town leaders recently approved a contract with The Lawrence Group, a consulting firm that will help develop the UDO, subject to the approval of the Local Government Commission to finance the cost of the project over 10 years.

The same consulting firm guided UDO creations in Knightdale, Wake Forest and Wendell in recent years. Hetrick said it is possible for some of Wake Forest’s town codes to be implemented in Zebulon and potentially save time and money.

“There may be opportunities for savings, but it’s hard to say if or how much until you get into the meat of the project,” Hetrick said.

Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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