9 Amending the Plan
This section addresses the process for amending and updating the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan (the Plan) and its various components. It outlines a suggested amendment process and recommended timeframe for amendment cycles as well as for the more extensive periodic update of the Comprehensive Plan every ten to fifteen years.
Regular Minor Updates
The City should establish a 6-month cycle for minor plan amendments in an omnibus revision package to maintain its relevancy to the community, staff and elected and appointed leaders. The amendment process should provide an opportunity for individuals, groups, or city agencies to propose minor amendments to the Comprehensive Plan to address changing social and market conditions or reflect new plans and work programs. Minor amendments may include changes to the text, maps or graphics of the Comprehensive Plan.
- First six months. The first of the two packages of amendments should include minor amendments compiled throughout the previous year and documented in an annual inconsistency report.
- Second six months. The second of the two packages of amendments should occur six months after the cycle described above and be aligned with annual reporting on Plan metrics and implementation progress so that suggested amendments are informed by progress made and lessons learned over the previous year.
Less Frequent Thematic Updates
In addition to regular annual updates, to maintain the Plan’s currency, the City should undertake periodic thematic updates of the Comprehensive Plan that take a deeper dive into specific topics of pressing concern. These updates should be undertaken every two to three years and should address topics where the Plan needs more significant amendments to keep pace with a changing world. Examples could include responding to new transportation technologies, adapting to a changing climate, structural changes in the local economy, or evolving dynamics in the housing market. A broad-based and authentic public participation process should accompany these periodic updates. The Implementation Strategy section and Manuals and Metrics section of the Plan should be reviewed and amended as necessary during this thematic update cycle, if not more frequently. The Implementation Strategy should be updated to reflect changes in state statutes, the accomplishment of action items in the then current Implementation Strategy, and progress toward Plan Goals and target metrics. The Manuals and Metrics should be updated to maintain consistency, incorporate new data, and reflect progress made.
Periodic Major Plan Update
While the planning horizon for the Plan is 20 years, it is recommended that a more substantial update to the document be conducted every 10 years. This periodic major update to the Plan should include revisiting the guiding principles, vision elements and goals. The Plan structure and organization may require updating at this time, but the emphasis of the Plan update should be confirming higher level direction established with the Plan and updating policies, projects and programs to reflect the City’s progress and the community’s priorities.
Updating the 2040 Policy Map
The Charlotte Future 2040 Policy Map (2040 Policy Map or Future Place Types Map) will be created through the mapping of aspirational Place Types across the community. It is anticipated that the 2040 Policy Map will be adopted by City Council along with the Implementation Strategy document and Manuals and Metrics document in the first quarter of 2022. The 2040 Policy Map will be a guide for Community Area Planning, but will also be reviewed and confirmed through the more localized community conversation that will occur at the Community Area scale. It is expected that at least a portion of the Community Area Plans will include recommended adjustments to the 2040 Policy Map. When Community Area Plans are adopted, inconsistencies with the citywide 2040 Policy Map should be documented. All inconsistencies with the 2040 Policy Map should be documented throughout the year and compiled in the annual inconsistency report to highlight where planning is needed or where the 2040 Policy Map needs to be amended. Changes to the 2040 Policy Map driven by site-level rezoning are addressed below.
Alignment of Zoning and the 2040 Policy Map
New zoning districts included in the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) will be designed to correspond with Place Types. As a part of the UDO initiative, there will also be a two-step process to align a property’s zoning with its Place Type designation.
The first step will occur as part of the adoption of the UDO. In conjunction with adoption, existing conventional zoning districts will translate to the corresponding new zoning districts. The second step will occur after UDO adoption through an alignment rezoning process. Zoning for each property will be assessed to determine whether it is aligned with its designated Place Type, as shown on the 2040 Policy Map. For each property for which zoning is determined to be misaligned, a rezoning will be initiated to align the property’s zoning with the property’s Place Type. These alignment rezonings will follow the typical rezoning process and will include extensive community engagement.
Maintaining alignment between the 2040 Policy Map and the Zoning Map may be impacted by future rezonings approved by City Council. There are two likely types of rezoning scenarios that will occur following the adoption of the 2040 Policy Map. The first scenario is a rezoning that aligns or is consistent with the corresponding Place Type. For example, a rezoning request from one Neighborhood 2 (N2) zoning district to another N2 zoning district for a property within the N2 Place Type. In these instances, the 2040 Policy Map would not be impacted and no change to the map would be required.
The second likely rezoning scenario is a request for a zoning district that does not align or is inconsistent with the current 2040 Policy Map. For example, rezoning a property from a Neighborhood 1 zoning district to a Commercial zoning district. In this scenario where there is an inconsistency between the rezoning request and the 2040 Policy Map, a method to amend the 2040 Policy Map prior to rezoning approval may be needed. As staff develops the 2040 Policy Map and UDO, the appropriate process to amend the 2040 Policy Map under this scenario will be further developed and defined. This process will be developed collaboratively among City staff, City Council, the Planning Commission and the community.
Case Study: Raleigh’s Comprehensive Plan Amendment Criteria
The City of Raleigh’s Comprehensive Plan includes a subsection within the Implementation section that discusses updates to the Plan and a set of Amendment Criteria. The criteria require proposed amendments to demonstrate clear need and justification, as follows:
- Significant changes have occurred since the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan.
- Inconsistencies in land use or other plan policies exist in the adopted Comprehensive Plan that affect the city’s efficient growth and development.
- The city’s ability to achieve the goals of the Comprehensive Plan will be increased, or the operations of city government will be enhanced.
- The Plan’s policies or actions inhibit the ability of the city to achieve other public policy objectives.
- Substantial improvement in the quality of life for city residents will be achieved.
- Adoption of the proposed amendment is necessary to incorporate public policies established by the city government that are not reflected in the Plan.
Raleigh’s Plan also includes a policy stating that all amendments to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan shall be reviewed for consistency against adopted policies. The Raleigh Department of City Planning has formalized the process for any applicant to request an amendment petition form that applies to text, maps or content.