Charlotte UDO – Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about the Charlotte Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) and what it means to you? Below are answers to some of our most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). However, we understand this list may not answer your specific question. So, for those questions not addressed here, please fill out the comment form at the bottom of this page and we’ll send you an answer directly to your inbox!

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.

For more on the Charlotte UDO and what it will do, check out this short video!

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

The UDO will be the primary tool to implement the Charlotte Future 2040 Plan and other adopted plans and policies through development regulations. It will combine 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, so it’s important to update 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 will combine eight ordinances into one. Specifically, this will include the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance, Tree Ordinance, Street and Sidewalk Regulations, Floodplain Regulations, Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Ordinance, Driveway/Access Standards and Post Construction Stormwater Ordinance.

Will the 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, such as the Zoning Ordinance, will see major changes. While some will undergo substantive updates, many will 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 polices expressed in adopted plans. For example, the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan will serve 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 will use more graphics and tables to display these standards, making them easier to understand. (Photo credit (bottom): 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 will be crafted to be more easily understood. The UDO will rely less on written text, and more on graphics and illustrations, to convey the various development standards to the casual user.

I would like to see a copy of the UDO. How and where can I read it?

In short, the UDO is not yet written enough to share. The UDO is a set of regulations. In Charlotte, policy is the basis for most regulations. City Council adopts policies, which are statements to direct city projects and establish regulations. The policies guiding the UDO are mostly found in the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted by City Council on June 21, 2021. Now that the Comprehensive Plan is adopted, the City can complete the draft UDO and present it to the community for review and comment in late summer/early fall 2021.

To develop the draft, we are working with the Ordinance Advisory Committee (OAC), a small group of community members, to discuss concepts and approaches. This will ensure that a draft UDO will be ready for the Charlotte community as soon as possible.

What does this alphabet soup mean? UDO? OAC?

UDO : Unified Development Ordinance. See FAQ on the UDO
OAC : Unified Development Ordinance Advisory Committee. See FAQ on the OAC
TOD : Transit Oriented Development. See resources on TOD

When will a draft of the Charlotte UDO be released?

The release of the Unified Development Ordinance draft is planned for late summer/early fall 2021. To stay up to date, check in here at for updates.

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. There will be chances for you to review draft regulations, react, and engage with our team to ensure your voice is heard.

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?

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, provide initial feedback as we draft UDO text. All the OAC meeting recordings are shared on the UDO YouTube channel here.

In addition, as we move into early fall 2021 and begin to share drafts of the UDO with the community, your feedback and comments will be crucial to building support for and understanding of the UDO. To better understand the project timeline and when to expect to see a public draft for public comment, please visit our project timeline page for more information.