Project Introduction

Welcome to New Hanover County’s Unified Development Ordinance Project. The project team is working to update the county’s land development regulations, including zoning, sub-division, stormwater, flood, and erosion control regulations. One goal of the update project will be to blend these regulations into a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).  A UDO is a single document that includes all of the county’s land development regulations combined into an easy-to-use format. This format allows community members, applicants, and decision-makers to see what regulations will apply to a project without looking through multiple county ordinances.

In addition to reformatting the regulations into a UDO, the project will also be focused on providing the county with a more modern set of development rules and standards that will help implement adopted county plans and guide future growth and redevelopment in the county.

Updating the County’s development regulations is an important in moving the community’s hard work with Plan NHC, the county’s Comprehensive Plan, forward. The current regulations have been in place since 1969 and are due for an overhaul. As local development patterns and preferences change over time, zoning regulations start showing signs of aging. Important standards that guide new development types may be missing from the code and the existing standards may actually (and inadvertently) create a barrier to development that the community wants to encourage.

The New Hanover County UDO project will take place in the following general phases:

  1.    Audit: Staff and Consultant Review of Current Codes [COMPLETE]
  2.    Phases I and II: Unified Development Ordinance
    • Phase I: New Zoning Tools [Adopted 07-2019]
    • Phase II: Reorganized Unified Development Ordinance Document [Adopted 02-2020]

3.    Phase III: Targeted Code Updates

Coordination with the City of Wilmington’s development code update is also on-going. Development standards in the City and County will likely vary to some extent relative to the degree of planned urban and rural development but will be consistent when possible.

There will be many opportunities  for citizens to participate in the UDO process as the project moves forward.The project is currently in its third and final phase, which is comprised of a series of targeted amendments to address community concerns (i.e., new development close to existing homes and protection of trees) and to continue modernizing the code (i.e., adding new uses and private street design options).

Stakeholders can provide feedback on amendment concepts, provide input on amendment topic areas, comment on draft language, and present concerns during public hearings. Staff is also available for presentations and focus group-style work sessions with stakeholder groups. Additional public workshops may be held if needed.

We look forward to hearing from you as the project proceeds.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to:


Rebekah Roth

Senior Planner
Planning & Land Use
Phone: 910-798-7465
Email: rroth@nhcgov.com

Planning and Land Use: 230 Government Center Dr, Suite 110 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7165 • Fax 910-798-7053