Did you know that the City changes the development code on a regular basis? These text changes, also known as text amendments, can be requested by citizens, staff members, or the City Council to address new development trends or to correct issues with the existing language. This blog will (hopefully) shed some light on the process and explain why it can sometimes be a lengthy one.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Travis Crane, Assistant Planning Director, to learn more about the process. He explained that simple requests may take a few months while more complex requests can take longer. It all begins with an idea to change the code language. This idea is then presented to the City Council, who decides if the idea is worth pursuing. Once the City Council authorizes a text amendment, a pre-application conference is required between the applicant and City staff to discuss the nature of the request. From there, applicants must file an official application for text amendment. Staff will review the request and send it along to the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission’s Text Change Committee typically reviews text amendments. This subcommittee reviews the actual language in great detail – after all, these text amendments could become the law. The Planning Commission has 90 days to report this recommendation to the City Council, at which time Council will conduct a public hearing and approve, approve with revisions, or deny the request. Delays could result if a vote in support of the motion fails to achieve a three-fourths majority – in that case, a second vote would be required at the next Council meeting. A simple majority on the second vote makes the action final.

The last step is to send the approved text changes to our codifier (currently Municode) to amend the City’s code. The amount of time it takes for codifying varies, so it is important to note that text changes are typically effective five days after approval even though we may not actually have the new language in our code immediately. The codifier provides updates to the code every three months.

To help everyone keep track of approved text changes, the Municode web page includes links to all of the text changes approved on or after September 1, 2013 (the date of the UDO adoption). There you’ll find the ordinance and text change numbers, and the date of the adoption.

Please bookmark the web page for easy access, and if you have any questions about text changes, don’t hesitate to ask me or call the Department of City Planning at 919-996-2626. Pre-application conferences can be scheduled by contacting the Development Services Customer Service Center.

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