The process of creating a new set of land use rules to simplify and update Zebulon’s 30-year-old code of ordinances is rebounding after it faced a wave of setbacks that began last June.
The hiccups, however, cost the town months worth of time on its Unified Development Ordinance, which will serve as a single-source manual for all things related to development in Zebulon. That leaves more time for development projects to be approved before the revised standards are applied.
Work on the new policy was scheduled to begin in January, 2014, and take 18 months to complete.
The hurdles came as members of the the Lawrence Group, the consulting firm Zebulon hired to develop its UDO, began taking jobs elsewhere.
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Scott Curry, a project manager for Zebulon’s UDO, left the firm last June to take a job with the City of Charlotte. Then, in November, project leader Craig Lewis made a move to another firm.
Remaining members of the consulting team working on the town’s project followed Lewis in the transition, according to a February report from the Zebulon Planning Department.
“As a result of these unforeseen setbacks, the project has lost some time on the original schedule; however, the project appears to be getting back on track,” the report stated.
Interim Town Manager Sidney Perry said Friday that Lewis initially retained responsibility for Zebulon’s UDO with plans to finish the project despite working for a different firm.
Perry said Lewis was given an extended deadline, moving the completion date from July to October of this year, but that Lewis notified the town a few weeks ago that he was withdrawing from the project.
“(Lewis) said he would finish it for us, but after a while we weren’t getting any results,” Perry said. “He said he had picked up so many clients and so much work, he wasn’t going to be able to hit that (October) deadline.”
The Lawrence Group completed about 70 percent of the UDO work, Perry said. The contract on the total project was for $125,400, of which the firm has been paid $93,461.
Perry said the town’s planning department staff intends to complete the remaining work on the project without the help of a consulting group. The department is currently in the process of obtaining files from the work the Lawrence Group completed, he said.
“Once they get all that, they’ll have a good idea hopefully of what all is left to do and how long it will take,” Perry said. “It’s dragged out longer than we wanted, but we’ve done the best we could with what we were working with.
“It will take a little longer to do, but we can do it ourselves. We decided it was best to do that rather than hiring another firm to take over; we certainly didn’t want to spend any more money.”
Printing the final document and any other costs associated with completing the UDO will be funded using the nearly $32,000 remaining in the project’s budget.