UDO Residential Overlay Districts

Neighborhood Character Overlay (NCO) Pilot Program

Is your community interested in participating in the NCO Pilot Program?  The deadline to apply is Monday, October 16.  Please be sure to include the potential boundaries of the proposed NCO district; incomplete applications will not be considered.  Participating neighborhoods will be selected based on the prioritization criteria shared at the August 3 and August 17 community meetings(learn more below). The next deadline to apply will be in late Spring 2024.  For questions, please email: overlays@charlottenc.gov.

Historic District Overlay (HDO) / Historic District Overlay – Streetside (HDO-S)

The HDO is a zoning tool used to preserve the historic character of an area and ensure new development is compatible. The overlay, where applied, requires a design review process for all exterior changes to structures and lots, including demolition. The Historic District Commission (HDC) or its staff must approve all projects before work takes place. Approved projects receive a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) which is required to obtain building permits. Exterior work that does not require a building permit must still receive a Certificate of Appropriateness before work begins. For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions about HDO and HDO-S.

The HDO-S is similar to an HDO but mostly focuses on the first 50% in depth of principle buildings and lots. COAs are typically not required for projects located in rear yards or additions that extend off the rear but are required for any additions that are taller or wider than a structure. Demolition and the entirety of new construction inside an HDO-S is subject to full review. For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions about HDO and HDO-S.

The HDO/HDO-S designation process is in two parts.  Part one is the completion of a Local Designation Report.  The Local Designation Report is comprised of a boundary map, property-by-property survey, and historical development narrative of the neighborhood. The time required to complete the designation report will vary.  Once complete, the Local Designation Report is submitted to the Historic District Commission (HDC) for review and transmittal to the State Historic Preservation Office (HPO).   The HPO has 30 days to review the report and issue a recommendation letter.   Part two is the Rezoning process.   To initiate a Rezoning the Local Designation Report, HPO recommendation letter, and a petition demonstrating a minimum of 51% property owner support is required.  The rezoning process takes approximately 4 months. HDO Project Milestones Chart

Neighborhood Character Overlay (NCO)

The NCO is an overlay district that may impose standards inside existing neighborhoods to help new infill development fit in better. This overlay is available for neighborhoods that may not be a candidate for historic designation but where enough support exists to preserve its character. It requires a minimum of 15 contiguous acres in an area that is 75% developed. Added standards for the overlay area are developed and compiled into a Neighborhood Character Plan (NCP) that requires approval from City Council. For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions about NCO.

The NCO/NCP process is expected to take approximately 8-12 months to complete, including the Rezoning process. Multiple factors influence timeline, such as the size of the proposed NCO district and the petition process, which may result in a shorter or longer timeline.    For more information, please see the sample NCO Project Milestones Chart. An application and pre-submittal eligibility meeting is required to initiate the NCO process.  A petition template for the request to initiate the Neighborhood Character Plan process will be provided by staff after completion of the pre-submittal meeting.

Residential Infill Overlay (RIO)

Residential Infill Overlay Districts (RIO) are similar to NCOs with the intent of maintaining and complimenting existing neighborhood conditions when new infill development occurs. RIOs application preserves existing neighborhood character by regulating front yard setbacks, building sidewall heights, and maximum building size/heated square footage in new construction. It requires a minimum of 50 contiguous lots.  For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions about RIO.

To initiate an RIO, either a majority (51%) of neighborhood property owners must sign a petition for the overlay or, an RIO may be initiated by a majority vote of City Council.  Once planning staff receives the petition or a directive of City Council, the proposed RIO will enter the rezoning queue and follow the standard rezoning process. Final approval of the RIO is made by City Council.  Contact staff to obtain a copy of the required petition template overlays@charlottenc.gov.

Quick Comparison Guide

Use the table below to compare and contrast the differences between the overlay districts. Detailed information on the regulatory items discussed below are found in Article 14 of the UDO.


Planning, Design & Development
600 E. 4th Street, Charlotte, NC 28202