The study, called a land capacity analysis, will be used early next year to help the city develop a growth management plan. The results of the study will be presented to the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday.
Last year, according to the city, about 12,000 people moved to Raleigh and developers built more than 5,000 homes for them. Every day, nearly 33 people move to the city. About 122,000 new homes over the next 20 years will help accommodate them.
"Now is the time to make the decision on how we want to grow," said Raleigh Planning Director Mitch Silver.
Silver said city leaders would need to be careful about how the city spends its resources and about the projects they approve. By planning now, the city can try to avoid problems that urban sprawl has brought to larger cities such as Atlanta and Washington, D.C..
"Commute times can increase, you can become a lot more dense, and it puts pressure on existing systems, school capacity, transportation, utilities," Silver said. "All of these become a factor, and we want to maintain a strong quality of life."
Most of the available land is in the fringe areas of Raleigh, but the build-out won't affect just those areas. In the next five to 10 years, Silver expects a lot of areas will be redeveloped.
Some of that is already happening with industrial areas off Six Forks Road that are becoming residential.
About 80 percent of the growth will be in Northeast Raleigh.
"We are concerned about that," said Northeast Raleigh resident Richard Hill.
Hill hopes development will be responsible and include new amenities, such as the neighborhood greenway he enjoys.
"We know it's coming," he said. "It's just a matter of them managing it as best they can, I guess."