Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About the UDO


What is a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO)?

The Charlotte Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is a city-wide effort to update the regulations that guide growth and development in Charlotte.

A UDO combines zoning regulations, along with other land development rules (such as subdivision, tree, and floodplain ordinances) into one comprehensive document.

Why is the Charlotte Unified Development Ordinance important and what is the project about?

The UDO is the primary tool to implement the Charlotte Future 2040 Plan and other adopted plans and policies through development regulations. The draft UDO combines eight development ordinances, including the Zoning Ordinance, into one set of regulations. Charlotte’s current development regulations were written at different times over the last three decades. The UDO updates and combines them all now so they work better together and are clearer and easier to use.

Which land development ordinances are in the Charlotte UDO?

The Charlotte UDO combines eight ordinances into one. Specifically, this includes the Zoning OrdinanceSubdivision OrdinanceTree OrdinanceStreet and Sidewalk RegulationsFloodplain RegulationsSoil Erosion and Sedimentation Control OrdinanceDriveway/Access Standards, and Post Construction Stormwater Ordinance.

Does Charlotte UDO update or modify all of these land development ordinances?

As stated above, Charlotte’s UDO combines eight land development ordinances into one. However, not all of the ordinances included in the UDO have major changes. While some have undergone substantive updates, many only have slight modifications for consistency with the rest of the UDO.

What is zoning?

Local governments use zoning as a regulatory tool for several purposes. Firstly, zoning controls the physical development of land and the way land may be used by setting land uses. In addition, it is a tool for shaping the size and location of buildings. Also, zoning regulations enact local land development policies expressed in adopted plans. For example, the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan serves as the adopted policy for the UDO.

Zoning sets rules for all sorts things you experience in everyday life such as parking, building height and land use. The UDO uses more graphics and tables to display these standards, making them easier to understand. (Photo credit: Charlotte Area Transportation System)

Why update the Zoning Ordinance?

Charlotte’s current zoning ordinance is not always in alignment with the community’s vision for how development should occur, nor does it always reflect current best practices for zoning regulations. The current ordinance is often difficult to navigate and confusing for the occasional user. The zoning regulations in the UDO are crafted to be more easily understood. The UDO relies less on written text, and more on graphics and illustrations, to convey the various development standards to the casual user.

How can I review the UDO First Draft?

The draft UDO was released for public review and comment on October 7, 2021. You can read and submit your comments on the first draft of the UDO at PublicInput.com/charlotteUDO. The first draft of the UDO will be open for comment until January 14, 2022. After this, the UDO will be reviewed and updated several times before adoption, in accordance with the project schedule, with consideration to community feedback.

The first draft of the UDO was developed by staff from the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, with feedback on concepts from the Ordinance Advisory Committee (OAC), a small group of community members, and consultant support from Camiros, Ltd.

Will I have an opportunity to comment and respond to the draft Charlotte UDO?

Yes! We want everyone in the community to have an opportunity to read and comment on the draft UDO. Visit publicinput.com/charlotteudo to share your feedback.

I would like to participate on the Ordinance Advisory Committee (OAC). How can I? What is their purpose and role?

The OAC is a small group with interests and experience in community organization, real estate and development, and advocacy in the Charlotte area with a balance of perspectives. To be effective, the committee’s membership is limited to no more than 40 members, all of whom are appointed by the Planning Director.

The role of the OAC is to give us advice on the ideas shaping the first drafts of the UDO. The OAC meets every 2-3 weeks. The committee members’ reactions and comments to these concepts help us adjust our approach to drafting the UDO. Who participates on the OAC? See the FAQ below.

All OAC meetings are now streamed live and also available for you to watch after the meeting, on our Charlotte Planning, Design & Development YouTube channel. We encourage you to engage with the UDO by watching these meetings. After the release of the public UDO draft, our team is committed to continuing the conversation with the Charlotte community to refine the draft ordinance.

Who is on the OAC? Which communities are represented?

You can view our full OAC roster here. Generally speaking, we have included three key groups on the OAC.

  1. Neighborhood leaders/associations. Neighborhood representatives on the OAC come from each City Council district. These members share the thoughts of neighborhoods and residents from across Charlotte.
  2. The real estate and development community. Our community is growing quickly. As a result, essential residential and business activity is critical to meet the needs of residents. In this way, the real estate and development community provides critical insight for the UDO. This group includes architects, engineers, developers, and real estate attorneys.
  3. Advocacy groups. Advocacy groups play an important role as a voice for their members and their interests. Generally, this includes non-profit groups who represent issues like sustainability, business interests, mobility, etc.

How will the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) address Affordable Housing?

Our vision and guiding principles support affordable housing by encouraging a range of housing choices. In short, this includes housing that meet the needs of people with different incomes, ages, physical abilities and lifestyles. Research has shown that supporting a greater mix of housing types is key to providing more opportunities for affordable housing.

In addition, staff is exploring several other methods to achieve greater affordability including incentives, removing regulatory barriers, and providing higher density housing opportunities.

How is the Charlotte community involved?

There are several phases of this project that will involve important community conversations. Firstly, the Ordinance Advisory Committee (OAC), a team of approximately 40 community members, provided initial feedback as the UDO First Draft was crafted. All the OAC meeting recordings are shared on the UDO YouTube channel here.

In addition, the UDO planning staff will attend and host virtual and in-person engagement events throughout the first draft comment period. Visit charlotteudo.org/get-involved/whats-new/ to find out where we are! Come by to learn more and share your feedback!

How can I stay updated?