By Paul T. Choate
Feb. 4, 2013. The Boone Council Chambers filled to capacity on Friday afternoon as to get a sneak peak of what is in the works for the town’s new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that is currently in the works.
Boone Planning and Inspections Director Bill Bailey gave a presentation to the dozens in attendance at the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce “Lunch and Learn,” which touched on plans for formatting, rearranging and clarifying the current UDO to form the new ordinance.
“The current UDO is very chaotic in its arrangement,” Bailey said. “We’re trying to create standards that say to you and to us, ‘Here are the standards.’ … This code was very inconsistent in a lot of ways. There were a huge number of redundancies.”
For over two years now, Bailey and his department have been working on a revamped UDO. The entire UDO is being reviewed to clear up inconsistencies and redundancies found in terminology, process and procedure.
The new UDO, according to Bailey, is going to be a much smaller document and will be put together in a more logical format that is clear to understand for everybody.
One big change in particular for the new UDO is in the rules governing bringing non-conforming developments and structures into compliance with current zoning codes. At present, the town uses the 50 percent rule, meaning that major repairs or a change of use to a structure worth more than 50 percent of the property value could trigger the need to bring them into compliance with zoning codes. Under the new UDO, Bailey said the plan is to move to a tiered system, though he did not go into great detail about what that system would look like.
Pressure has been mounting on Bailey and his staff to get the new UDO completed as quickly as possible.
“We would like to get this adopted in April, because we keep hearing from many that this project is holding up projects,” Councilwoman Lynne Mason said at the Lunch and Learn.
Bailey said during the Lunch and Learn that, once they are ready, he will be putting drafts of the new UDO online for the public to view. He stressed the importance of public input for putting a new UDO in place.
“The most frustrating thing from my end is not having participation from the public and then hearing the public complain after it is enacted,” Bailey said. “I’m trying my best to tell you, ‘This is what’s happening, please put something in.’”
Three workshops regarding the UDO have been scheduled for Feb. 28, March 6 and March 25, all from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Council Chambers on Blowing Rock Road.
A special public hearing will be set following the completion of the three workshops. Bailey and council members stressed their desire to be able to get developers and local community members to get involved and provide their input.
To view the presentation slides from Friday, click here.