Durham City Council Vote Marks a Win for Small Scale and Affordable Development

On November 20, 2023 Durham City Council voted to adopt key aspects of the Simplified Code for Affordable Development; text amendments designed to simplify Durham’s current UDO.  We congratulate APG’s Jim Anthony and a very dedicated team of residential and CRE related practitioners for leading these efforts, nearly three years in the making.

The vote took place after four hours of deliberation and comments from several dozen community members.  Among the key amendments approved:

  • Eliminating parking minimums
  • Allowing places of worship to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their property
  • Creating provisions that support the “15-minute neighborhood” concept featured in the Comprehensive Plan.
  • Eliminating the site plan review process for construction of 10 or fewer townhomes and 20 or fewer ADUs
  • Introducing the “detached row house” housing type
  • Changes to the ADU sizes, as well as lot and driveway sizes
  • Changes to the dimensions around buffers between structures

A word from Jim Anthony:

“For nearly 3 years, myself and other development community practitioners, have been working in Durham, NC, to address zoning code deficiencies we have encountered over the last ten years. We have discovered many in the unified development ordinance (UDO) that controls development approvals in Durham. About two years ago, our team submitted a 76-page application for a text amendment to the UDO. I volunteered to serve as the applicant on behalf of the development community. I had no idea of the hornets’ nest that I was about to step in. After having been smeared personally in a vain attempt to destroy our efforts to create more simplified development standards, we successfully passed the amendment November 20, 2023. The effort was undertaken by a large team of residential and commercial real estate-related practitioners, from small developers to civil engineers and architects. We were all united in working towards a common goal of simplifying the Durham UDO to facilitate more small scale and more affordable development. Thankfully, we were successful.”

In December Durham County Commissioners approved most of the requested text amendments as well, in a 3-1 vote.

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