​The Unified Development Ordinance contains provisions regulating how most development in Wake County's planning jurisdiction may occur. The UDO designates all land within the County's planning jurisdiction as within one of a number of zoning districts and contains both general and district-specific regulations controlling the use, intensity and design of new development, as well as the procedures by which such development is reviewed and authorized.

Where necessary to implement current County policy or reflect changing County policy, the Board of Commissioners may, after review by the Planning Board, amend the text of the UDO to change the standards or procedures it sets forth.

Review Procedure
Initiation: Ordinance text amendments may be initiated by the Planning Director or through a directive to the Planning Director from the Board of Commissioners, adopted in response to a request from one or more Commissioners, or from the Planning Board, Board of Adjustment, or any resident or owner of property in Wake County.

Staff Review: On deciding or being directed to consider a proposed text amendment, Planning staff evaluate issues and impacts relevant to the proposed amendment in conjunction with other County staff (generally staff from the Planning, Development and Inspections Division of the Community Services Department and from the Environmental Services Department). Planning staff then prepare a staff report on the proposed amendment and submit it, along with a recommendation for its approval or denial, to the Planning Board.

Planning Board Review: The Planning Board hears presentations of the staff report and comments from all interested parties. It then discusses the proposed amendment and decides to recommend its approval or denial. The Planning Board sometimes refers a proposed amendment to its Code and Operations Committee for more detailed discussion and a recommendation to the full Board. After hearing comments and the Board's discussion, the Planning Director may decide to revise the proposal to address those comments. If so, the review process starts over.

Board of Commissioners Review: Planning staff cause notice of an upcoming Board of Commissioners meeting where a public hearing on the proposed amendment is scheduled, to be published in a local newspaper of general circulation. The Planning Director submits the staff report and the recommendations of the Planning staff and the Planning Board to the Board of Commissioners for consideration at the public hearing. The Commissioners hear presentations of the staff report, comments from all interested parties, and the recommendations of the staff and Planning Board. They close the hearing, then discuss the proposed amendment and decide to approve or deny it. The Commissioners may continue the hearing if they deem it necessary to hear further comments or additional information. After hearing comments and the Board's discussion, the Planning Director may decide to revise the proposal to address those comments. If so, the review process starts over.

Review Criteria
The Unified Development Ordinance requires any review of a proposed text amendment – whether by the staff, the Planning Board, and the Board of Commissioners – to be based on consideration of whether the proposed amendment:

  • Is consistent with the Wake County Land Use Plan; and
  • Otherwise advances the public health, safety and general welfare.


The Land Use Plan contains general goals and strategies pertaining to growth and development, and applies classifications that generally describe the range of land uses and development intensity proposed to occur on land within the County's planning and zoning jurisdiction. Because the Land Use Plan's provisions are explicit, the Plan is generally the principal guide to review of proposed amendments.

For further information about pending proposed text amendments, contact Wake County Planning at 919-856-6335 or Wake County Planning, P.O. Box 550, Raleigh, NC 27602-0550.