Raleigh Creates New Equitable Transit Overlay District

Government Affairs, TAA News & Updates,

On Tuesday, the Raleigh City Council took another big step forward in addressing housing affordability when it passed TC-17-20, which takes the Transit Overlay District (TOD) that was already in Raleigh’s zoning code and changes it to the Equitable Transit Overlay District (ETOD). The new ETOD is more detailed than the previous TOD and focuses on future land uses along the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service that is planned for New Bern Avenue and Western Boulevard. The main purpose of the new ETOD is to support the level of density that is needed for BRT to have enough riders but it will also seek to address housing affordability in the process.

The ETOD will allow developers to build taller buildings in return for providing development types that are needed by the community. Zoning in Raleigh sets a maximum height for each zoning district. In the ETOD, a building can be 50% taller than the maximum height if it includes affordable housing units. The number of affordable units would have to be around 12% of the total units in the building. The units would have to be affordable for a family making 50% of the area median income (AMI) or less and stay affordable for at least 30 years.  

There is also a height bonus of 30% for buildings that are used completely for employment uses. That usually means office buildings. It could also be an office building with stores on the ground floor. This type of development makes sure there are more jobs near the transit stations and places to shop as people get on and off the bus. It will also help to provide business and employment opportunities for residents of existing neighborhoods.

The third major component of the ETOD is that it encourages high-quality plazas, street design, and pedestrian connections. These features create an environment where transit riders have a pleasant experience with less emphasis on personal vehicles.  

When the ETOD is applied to a residential zoning district, the zoning standards for RX-3 will apply in that area. The ETOD is not likely to be applied to existing residential neighborhoods. This provision will most likely apply to large lots directly adjacent to major roads. The RX-3 district allows for greater residential density and a mix of uses while still limiting building height to no more than three stories.

Lastly, TC-17-20 also creates a new district called the Transit Overlay District-Residential (TOD-R). The TOD-R is designed for the residential neighborhoods near BRT stations. Residents in these neighborhoods will have access to the best transit service in Raleigh. The TOD-R allows a variety of housing so that people of varying incomes can make use of BRT. It also allows for some extra residential density.

It is also important to note that no parking is required for any new development in either of these overlay districts, regardless of the underlying zoning. 

For more information, visit the City of Raleigh's FAQ page here.