UDO Text Amendment Process

The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is the regulatory land development ordinance maintained by the Planning Department, and one of the regulatory tools for development used by the Durham City and County governments. Text amendments to the UDO can be initiated by a resident or other entity through an application to the Planning Department. They can also be initiated by the Planning Department, City or County Managers, the Planning Commission, the Board of Adjustment, or one or both of the governing bodies.

Contact [email protected] or call 919-560-4137 for information or to discuss a potential text amendment to the Ordinance.

Amendments Initiated by Application

The Planning Department accepts applications to change the UDO: 

  • The Planning Department requires a pre-submittal meeting to discuss the proposed changes and to provide feedback regarding a potential application, including whether the proposed change is needed or if a similar change is already in process.
  • An applicant must complete an official application (PDF) and must pay the associated application fee to submit a request. 
  • The Planning Department evaluates the application and may support the request in whole, in part, or not at all. In any case, an applicant has a right to seek approval of a proposed text amendment through due process before the City Council and Board of County Commissioners as described below under "The Approval Process."

Amendments Initiated by Boards or Commissions as Authorized

These amendments can range in scale from:

  • “Housekeeping” changes involving minor corrections, clarifications, or updates reflecting minor policy changes or changes in state or federal law; to 
  • Major modifications to existing sections of the Ordinance; or 
  • Creation of new sections of the Ordinance. 
  • Major changes may also be part of larger-scale projects involving multiple public or private entities and stakeholders.

The Approval Process

The approval process, once an amendment has been initiated, can be generalized in the following way:

  1. Review by City and County Departments, and a presentation to the Joint City-County Planning Committee (JCCPC).
  2. Drafting of actual text, including an initial public review and draft review by JCCPC.
  3. Final draft of a proposed UDO text amendment.
  4. Public hearing on the proposed text amendment by the Planning Commission, which issues a recommendation to the City Council and Board of County Commissioners.
  5. Public hearings by the City Council and the Board of County Commissioners, which are the approving authorities for all text amendments.

Depending upon the scale and complexity of the proposed amendment, the overall time frame can vary significantly.

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