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.

What changes were made to the UDO second draft (also known as the Public Hearing Draft) from the first draft?

Several changes were made to the first draft UDO that was released in October 2021. These changes are summarized here. This is not a comprehensive list, but outlines the most impactful changes proposed in the second draft.

What changes did staff recommend be made to the UDO Public Hearing Draft and incorporated into the adoption draft that City Council will consider on August 22, 2022?

Recommended substantive changes to the Public Hearing Draft have been summarized in the matrix linked here. This summary does not include non-substantive changes such as grammatical corrections, spelling corrections, or scrivener’s errors, etc. The text of the Public Hearing Draft with recommended changes is available for review online at the CharlotteUDO.org website. Specific changes recommended for this draft are highlighted in green.

What are these recommended changes based on?

Numerous changes have been made to the UDO since the first draft was released in October 2021. Changes have resulted from feedback obtained from the community, City and County staff, the UDO Advisory Committee (OAC), Planning Commission, County Commission, and City Council. All the public comments submitted through the comment portal on both drafts were recorded and are available on the CharlotteUDO.org website. Staff worked to respond to and reconcile all comments and recommended changes based on the feedback received, where appropriate.

Staff worked with the community in three primary engagement periods:

  • October 2021 to March 2022: The first draft engagement period
  • June 3 to June 30, 2022: Second Draft UDO engagement period
  • July 11, 2022: City Council UDO Public Hearing

Staff also prepared and presented recommended changes for the Planning Committee of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission on July 19, 2022.

What is the role of the Planning Committee in the UDO adoption process?

The role of the Planning Committee of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission is to make a recommendation on the UDO to the City Council. On July 19, 2022, the Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of the second draft UDO, with changes recommended by staff and a committee-initiated modification related to an additional requirement for new auto service stations and auto repair shops.

What is the final step in the adoption process? 

City Council is scheduled to make a decision on the UDO on August 22, 2022. They will consider the Adoption Draft which reflects the changes recommended by the Planning Committee. This draft will be released on August 15, 2022. Charlotte City Council can also vote to make changes to the adoption draft at the August 22 meeting.

When will the UDO be effective?

If approved by City Council, the proposed effective date of the UDO is June 1, 2023.

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 most current UDO Draft?

The public hearing draft with recommended changes for Planning Committee consideration was released in July 2022. You can read this draft of the UDO at PublicInput.com/charlotteUDO. The comment period on the second draft of the UDO closed on June 30, 2022. The UDO will be reviewed and updated by City Council before adoption, in accordance with the project schedule, with consideration to community feedback.

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

What is the purpose and role of the Ordinance Advisory Committee?

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 provide advice to staff on the ideas shaping the drafts of the UDO. The committee members’ reactions and comments to these concepts help staff to adjust drafts of the UDO. All OAC meetings are streamed live and also available for you to watch after the meeting, on our Charlotte Planning, Design & Development YouTube channel.

Who is on the OAC? Which communities are represented?

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 provide 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 that 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?

Learn about ways to engage now at charlotteudo.org/get-involved/whats-new/.

How can I stay updated?