The elected and appointed officials in the community where I work are very interested in adopting some kind of form-based zoning, likely as a supplement to a new unified development code.
In the one other community where I worked that adopted a form-based code, calibrated SmartCode-based transects replaced regular zoning districts at the original townsite/downtown area, and traditional zoning districts were applicable everywhere else. However, a developer could chose the option of developing under the SmartCode, but they had to develop a mixed-use project that incorporated a variety of transects; the goal was to create new neighborhoods, rather than just single-use residential subdivisions or shopping centers.
The problem with such an approach where I work is that land ownership is extremely fragmented, making it very difficult to agglomerate land for the kinds of mixed-use NU communities seen elsewhere. We want to keep large, contiguous agricultural and open space parcels intact and in production. That leaves a collection of smaller parcels; five to 30 acres on average, many with constraints such as very steep slopes.
The concept I'm considering for use here involves a form-based overlay. There would be the traditional zoning map, with certain nodes designated for development based on a form-based code, with the transect scheme to be developed in a charette.or neighborhood plan. The form-based overlay would include the T-1 (natural zone) through T-4 (general urban) transects. When a site is developed, the owner could choose to develop under the regular zoning district, or under the form-based transect. If a parcel is large enough, they could apply for a PUD or a Smart-Code based development involving multiple transects.
The shortcomings that I see; the intent of the SmartCode to create walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods will be undermined. The new UDC will likely be a hybrid conventional/form-based code, so there may be no advantage with development under a different FBC.
Your thoughts? Scrapping conventional zoning entirely for form-based zoning isn't an option, unfortunately.