The Unified Development Code was approved less than two years ago, and proposed changes to it have stirred considerable angst and an outpouring of concern in recent weeks, especially among the people who worked to get the new code passed in the first place and people in places like Broad Avenue that need support and encouragement for the vision that is transforming their part of the city. 

We’ve noted previously that ultimately, the changes eroding the promise of the UDC are more than anything an indication of the lack of importance that city and county governments place on planning and on funding the appropriate staff to execute the new code.  The decimation of public planners and planning itself may result in balanced budgets for city and county governments but they do nothing to balance the hopes and needs for a livable Memphis. Some proposed UDC changes make sense in light of the lack of government planning staff but the better course of action is for elected officials to provide the funding to give the UDC its best chance of success.

To read a post from our friends at LeftWingCracker listing the changes that cause concern, click here.

The following is an email circulated Friday to the Historic Broad Avenue Business Association that sums up concerns there and it is followed by a letter by June West of Memphis Heritage:

This Tuesday, the pending changes to the Unified Development Code are scheduled for their first reading at City Council.    Based on discussions with contacts that Bill Turner, Carla Touliatos, Tom Clifton and I have who have more insight into these changes and the process, it is our collective recommendation that we encourage our City Council representatives to vote to HOLD the pending changes to the UDC until more public discussion on the potential impact of these changes occurs.

If you concur, please call and/or email members of City Council.  In addition, if you have colleagues in other parts of the city, please share this information with them as this is an issue that impacts all of Memphis and Shelby County.  Points for you to consider discussing in your email are (but you are not limited to):Emphasize that you have had limited notice of changes and that we are still unclear with how these changes affect not only the Historic Broad Avenue District, but the entire City.

  • You can mention that Broad Avenue feels great loyalty to the current UDC since the initial work on the UDC that occurred in 2005-2006 resulted in our vision for the future of Broad Avenue.   And, as a result, the UDC helped to foster the changes and revitalization of Broad Avenue.  We are concerned that these changes will put our revitalization at risk of development that might not be in keeping with the Broad Avenue Master Plan.
  • Discuss that the city is gaining great momentum in revitalizing neighborhoods, fostering economic development and showcasing why it’s great to live and work in Memphis, Tennessee.  Therefore, it is imperative that any changes to the UDC work to further enhance the efforts of the citizens who are trying to lead efforts related to redevelopment and growth.  There needs to be discussion on the UDC within the neighborhoods such as Broad Avenue/Binghampton to ensure any changes to not harm these efforts.
  • This is just not a concern for Broad Avenue but for the entire city.  We are not sure that these changes will make it easier for small businesses and neighborhoods to grow or harder – there is a void of information that is easy to understand.

Again, please consider asking the council hold the ordinance changes until further discussions can occur.  If this does not occur, I’ll follow-up with the Executive Committee on proposed next steps.

City Council Contacts

Phone:   (901) 576-6786
Fax: (901) 576-6796

Chairman Planning and Zoning Committee:  Ed Ford, Jr.

Vice Chairman:  Reid Hedgepeth

Members:  Bill Boyd, Myron Lowery, Janis Fullilove, Joe Brown

Broad Avenue Councilmen:

District 5 – Jim Strickland

Super District 9 – Kemp Conrad ,

Shea Flinn ,

Reid Hedgepeth

FYI… Key links

  1. The updated draft of the UDC can be found at
    note that this link will take a few minutes to open up – it’s a 500+ page document.  The table of Uses begins on page 23.
  2. Updates from OPD staff and a schedule of when these proposed changes will be presented for public comment with the City Council and County Commission can be found here….
  3. Smart Cities Blog post on this topic:

Letter from June West to Councilman Morrison:

I am writing to ask that you vote to remove the proposed amendments to the UDC that are on the consent agenda

for tomorrow’s June 5th Council meeting for first reading. We understand that comments and public input can be made on the third reading . However based on the importance of these changes to the Unified Development Code it is our feeling that there needs to be more public input to these amendments before it is presented to the City Council for first reading.

It took over 5.5 years to draw up the UDC with a tremendous amount of community/neighborhood input.

These proposed amendments make tremendous changes to this very important document and neighborhoods are just realizing the negative impact that they will have on their areas. Yes it was understood that the UDC would be reviewed and tweaked but these are major game changing amendments.

It is the feeling in the community that more time is needed for neighborhoods to have

these changes explained in community meetings much like the UDC work was done.

As I am sure you are aware this is not easy information to digest quickly.

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding our request. Thank you.


June West