Voice your opinion on the proposal to raise multifamily building height limits

City Council is considering modifying an ordinance to allow more units within multifamily sites.

Four story apartment building that is brick and white siding. A fenced in park is in the front of the frame with a tree and bushes around it. Cars are parked in the complex parking lot.

The city-county planning board handles zoning and rezoning requests.

Photo by WStoday

Changes could be coming to Winston-Salem’s skyline and you have a chance to weigh in. City Council will consider a proposed amendment to change height limits on certain multifamily residential buildings. City planners say properties need to be taller in order to increase affordable housing.


A 2018 assessment found Winston-Salem has a shortage of 16,000 affordable homes. In 2022, City Council set a goal of creating 750 affordable housing units per year for the next decade. While progress is being made, planners + developers are running into issues.

City staff say it’s become more difficult for developers to find land suitable for multifamily developments. The Planning Board recommends changing Chapters 4 and 5 of the Unified Development Ordinances (UDO) to allow more units on land that is able to be developed. City planners also say making the change official will reduce the need for many rezoning requests.


Here’s what the amendment would change:

  • Low-density multifamily districts (RM-8) would increase in maximum height from 40 ft to 48 ft (approx. four stories).
  • The height limit for medium-density buildings (RM-12) could be raised to 60 ft (approx. five stories) from the current 45-ft limit.
  • The height limit for high-density buildings (RM-18) could go from 60 to 72 ft (approx. six stories).
  • RM-5 districts for duplexes and townhouses would go from a max of four units per building to six.

The new rule change would require buildings that are more than 40 feet high to be a minimum of 50 feet away from adjacent properties zoned for single-family residential. It would also change the bufferyard requirement from applying to developments with five or more units, to developments larger than one acre.


City council members discussed the proposal on January 16 at the Community Development/Housing/General Government Committee Meeting (discussion starts ~31 minutes into the meeting). City Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. at City Hall (101 N. Main. St.).