After the informal comment period for Version 3 and the subsequent edit period, draft Version 4 will be released. At that time, the formal hearing and adoption process begins. Regarding the adoption of the new zoning code, Alabama state law requires at least two public hearings – one with the Planning Commission and one with the City Council.
The Unified Development Code (UDC) is an overhaul of the City’s zoning and land development regulations intended to implement the recommendations set forth in Map for Mobile. The UDC sets rules, standards, and procedures to guide new development or redevelopment in Mobile.
The UDC will help Mobile strengthen neighborhoods, remain economically competitive, and create great places for people.
The initiative of modernizing the City’s zoning code came out of the extensive public input process for the Map For Mobile. In January 2016, the City kicked off the process of developing the Unified Development Code. The process began with the creation of the Future Land Use Plan, which involved several community workshops during 2017. Following the Future Land Use Plan’s adoption, the City worked with a consultant team and a Technical Advisory Committee to draft the regulations. An initial draft of the code articles was released for public comment in late 2017 and early 2018. UDC Version 2 was released for public comment in early 2019.
1. How is the UDC different from a typical zoning ordinance? A unified development code is a modern approach to regulating development. It is an adopted law of the city that combines the zoning ordinance and other land development regulations into a single document. The zoning ordinance defines different districts that govern the types of uses and the location and size of development in each district. It also includes provisions that establish the procedures for how development proposals are reviewed and approved or denied, and development and form standards such as those covering parking, landscaping, signs, building location and form, and resource protection. The land development regulations, also part of the UDC, regulate the division and platting of land, prior to its development. They include regulations that govern lot division, road layout and standards, and other infrastructure requirements.
2. How does the UDC relate to Map for Mobile? Map for Mobile is the City’s comprehensive plan that provides direction and guidance to improve Mobile and prepare it for the growth on the horizon. The plan presents goals and policies upon which future planning, regulations and decisions can be built. To implement Map for Mobile (the city’s vision), the Future Land Use Plan and Future Land Use Map (FLUM) was adopted to provide more specific guidance on the character of future land use throughout the city. Map for Mobile and the FLUM are policy guides, not legally binding documents. The UDC (as proposed) would be the adopted law of the city that would implement the policies in Map for Mobile and the FLUM.
3. What is the FLUM? The FLUM is the City’s adopted future land use map. It is part of the Future Land Use Plan that was adopted following Map for Mobile and is the primary guide to the future physical development of the City. The map and its corresponding land use designations describe the desired types, intensity, and spatial arrangement of the City’s land uses to achieve the vision described in Map for Mobile. It is not legally binding, but is a policy guide that is used to evaluate potential zoning changes or proposals that require conditional review.
4. What is the Zoning Technical Advisory Committee? The Technical Advisory Committee consists of 15 members appointed by the Mayor that has been responsible for providing review and comment to the City and its planning consultants regarding the zoning code as drafts are prepared. The Committee includes local design professionals, representatives from major stakeholder groups (including corporate, environmental, academic communities, and neighborhood and civic groups), and users of the code.
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What’s important to you?
Improving neighborhoods. Mobile loves its neighborhoods. The Unified Development Code (UDC) works to ensure the protection of your investments, property values, and quality of life so that our neighborhoods continue to thrive.
One way the code does this is to that existing neighborhood protections will remain in place and a distinction between urban and suburban will guide site standards.
Protecting the Environment is a clear direction in Map for Mobile and the city’s zoning regulations are an important tool to achieve that. The UDC introduces new provisions for protecting Mobile’s natural resources that will result in long-term environmental benefits.
One way the code does this is to introduce the concept of riparian buffers into the city’s regulations (a first for Mobile). Riparian buffers help to protect water quality, reduce erosion, and support wildlife habitats by preserving natural areas adjacent to major waterways and flood prone areas.
Supporting Sound Development. The UDC is a more modern and flexible approach to regulating development. While the code requires a little more work up front, that effort pays off in the end with a streamlined approval process that is more predictable and consistent.
One way the code does this is by establishing provisions that encourage mixed-use projects, that promote flexibility in site design, and support appropriate use of land throughout the City. Also, the new Table of Uses provides for development ‘by-right’ for many types of projects, ensuring predictability.
Strengthening our Economy. The UDC encourages investment through its streamlined development process, but it also contains new provisions that reflect modern practices in land use planning and economic development.
One way the code does this is by incorporating form-based standards to guide the form or design of development sites and new buildings. The standards are not universally applied across the city, but vary based on location, supporting existing development patterns and community identity.
Want to learn more?
Draft Code Articles (Version 3)
The Unified Development Code is written in a way that allows readers to quickly find information that is of interest to their property or neighborhood. The most frequently used information is contained in Articles 2, 3 and 4. Click below to view and learn more about each draft article.
UDC Version 2 Articles
Article 1: Introduction
Article 2: Zoning District Standards
Article 3: Composite
Article 4: Development Standards
Article 5: Use Regulations
Article 6: Procedures
Article 7: Nonconformities
Article 8: Enforcement
Article 9: Agencies
Article 10: Definitions
Article 11: Legal Provisions
Article 12: Submittal Requirements