On September 1, 2013, the City of Raleigh's new Unified Development Ordinance ("UDO") went into effect. One of the most noticeable changes with the UDO is the city's zoning map amendment process. Previously, following meetings with neighbors and citizens advisory councils (CAC's), a rezoning petition was the subject of a joint public hearing before the City Council and Planning Commission, after which it was automatically referred to the Planning Commission for review and recommendation before returning to the City Council for final action (approval or denial). Under the previous process, the City Council and Planning Commission held only 4 regularly scheduled joint public hearing meetings per year. Because the public hearing occurred prior to Planning Commission review, it was not uncommon for rezoning petitions to look substantially different at final action by the City Council than it looed at the joint public hearing.
Under the new UDO, a rezoning petition is still the subject of meetings with neighbors, CAC's, Planning Commission and City Council; however, the schedule of these events has shifted such that the City Council does not hold a public hearing until after the petition has been reviewed by all others. In fact, the City Council reviews the rezoning petition prior to setting the public hearing. This pre-hearing review allows council to suggest changes to the petition that could not be made after the public hearing is held. For example, after the public hearing, the petition cannot be changed to make it less restrictive. Accordingly, if a petition included a zoning condition at public hearing that council did not like, the applicant may not be able to remove the condition because doing so would make the request less restrictive. City Council's review of the case prior to public hearing enables zoning conditions to be revised to address such council concerns.
The delayed public hearing also provides the applicant more time to address concerns of adjoining property owners who might otherwise file protest petitions potentially making the approval of the petition more difficult.
The estimated timeframe for a rezoning petition to be acted on by the city council from the date of submittal is five to six months depending on the nature of the request.
Effective July 1, 2013, the filing fees rezoning petitions are $569 for a general use request, $1,139 for conditional use requests, and $2,847 for master plan requests.