Planning department staff presented a rough timeline Monday for the completion of a document that will dictate the way Zebulon grows, and in many cases how it looks, in the future.
The town is pursuing a Unified Development Ordinance in an effort to simplify and update its 30-year-old code of ordinances. If all goes according to plan, the guide to zoning, subdivisions and other land development regulations in Zebulon should be completed by the end of 2016.
The newly-proposed schedule reflects the cancellation of service of a former team of consultants with the Lawrence Group, which the town hired to create the UDO over 18 months beginning January 2014. That team completed about 75 percent of the project before gradually disbanding in 2014 to take other jobs; its leader, who initially said he would continue the project despite working for a different firm, officially cut ties with the town last March.
As a result, Zebulon’s planning staff is completing the UDO in-house with the assistance of Public Works Director Chris Ray and new Town Manager Joe Moore where needed. Zebulon Planning Director Mark Hetrick said another firm may be brought in to review the preliminary draft of the document once completed.
Work the consultants didn’t finish before parting ways with the town includes a section on design standards and the appendices. Staff will also have to merge the town’s Street and Storm Drainage Standards and Specifications Manual into the document in order to have a preliminary draft completed by December as proposed.
“We’re trying to make it user-friendly for the development community and in doing so we pull out a lot of the jargon and planning terms to make it easier for the community and citizens,” Hetrick said.
The existing meat of the document was formed using feedback from surveys sent out to the local development community, interviews and public workshops, and the input of a stakeholder working group made up of current and former town officials and prominent town figures.
Hetrick said there will be several more open house sessions to keep the public involved as the project rolls along. The proposed timeline has those taking place a year from now.
“As the draft is being finalized ... there’s going to be a lot of input going into the document,” Hetrick said. “We’ll certainly try to get a feel for how lenient or how strict a lot of these requirements are.
“Certainly there’s going to be changes and a lot of discussion on those changes, but I don’t think there’s going to be a bunch of huge, drastic changes.”
The draft will likely be rolled out to the public several sections at a time and made available on the town’s website as they are finalized, Hetrick said.
Proposed Zebulon UDO timeline
December 2015: Present preliminary draft to town manager, staff.
January-February 2016: Present preliminary draft to stakeholder working group.
March-April 2016: Present preliminary draft to a consultant for review.
May-June 2016: Make revisions based on feedback.
July-August 2016: Hold public workshops, hearings to discuss final draft.
September-October 2016: Finalize draft and prepare for adoption.
November-December 2016: Hold public meetings, transmission of final documents.