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Thread: Building the *Zoning Regulations* - THE CYBURBIA FAQ

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    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Building the *Zoning Regulations* - THE CYBURBIA FAQ

    Here is the concept: Post a typical question a planner in “Any Town USA” may have about the process of developing or updating a set of Zoning Regulations. Feel free to answer your own question. Or answer questions you may find here. Post links to good articles and give examples from your career or those that happened in the town "next door."

    I’m going to exercise higher-than-normal moderating authority in this thread to keep it on subject and to eventually build a “Cyburbia Knowledge Base” of FAQ’s on this, as well as various other subjects.

    If you reply to a question please use the quote function and keep your answer on topic. Responses may be merged – credit will be given to authors. Beware you post counter driven Cyburbians that you posts her may not count once the thread is edited.

    This project should result in something that we can all be proud of contributing to when we start accumulating enough material to flesh out a few FAQs.

    Thank you.
    el Guapo

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    Q. What should I know before starting to develop a set of Zoning Regulations for my community?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by el Guapo

    Q. What should I know before starting to develop a set of Zoning Regulations for my community?

    Before you start to work on updating or creating a zoning ordinance, you should look at the current land uses, surrounding communities and their land uses, current and future trends in economic, industrial, and residential trends, as well as what directions the residents of your community and the City Council would like to see the community develop.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by el Guapo
    Q. What should I know before starting to develop a set of Zoning Regulations for my community?
    You should be familiar with any and all local land use and economic development policy documents your community's governming board has previously adopted, such as a comprehensive or master plan. If current trends or sentiments in your community would prevent adopting regulations consistent with these documents, revise those documents first. Statutory or case law in many states require consitency between zoning regulations and such policy documents.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

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    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Study variances and appeals granted over the past few years. Look for patterns, and try to accommodate them. The best appeals board agenda has no cases.

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    First, there has to be a plan. Even in those states where the law does not require that a plan precede zoning, common sense does. You have to have a clear idea of what any regulations you propose need to accomplish.

    Second, you need to understand that there are choices about how to proceed and the consequences of those choices. Probably the most important part of this is to understand that zoning by photocopier is a truly awful idea. You need to lay out some choices and guide the community through them in a well-designed public participation campaign.

    The choices you need to consider are essentially a list of specific tools. I begin with the fundamental choice of approaches: conventional v. performance. I think about whether performance zoning would work as the principal approach for a particular place, or whether it is better to integrate performance concepts into a more conventional framework. I then look at a slate of districts - the fewer the better - and conceptual definitions of those districts. With the districts more or less defined, I look at the need for flexibility and how to use special or conditional use permits (again, the fewer the better) within each district. I don't introduce the use of floating zones or PUDs unless it is absolutely necessary, which it seldom is if you integrate performance standards into the districts.

    Your presentation of choices should be preceded by education about the basic constitutional issues: worship, speech, takings, and most of all, due process. It is important for people to understand the process of how the zoning will be used and why that process must sometimes be so painstaking.

    It is also essential to ensure that other regulations, esp. the subdivision regs, are in harmony with the zoning. Ideally, you would write a unified development code so that all of the community's regulations are in one place, covered by one process.
    Last edited by Lee Nellis; 13 Apr 2004 at 4:53 PM.

  6. #6
    Q: What is the best way to determine if a use is conditional or permitted in a given district?
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

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    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Q: What has changed or what is changing in my community what would necessitate an update of our zoning ordinance?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Repo Man
    Q: What is the best way to determine if a use is conditional or permitted in a given district?
    Research through studys, surveys, and meetings to determine what the district's character is intended to be. Those uses that will keep with the intended character should be permitted uses. Any use that keeps with the character of the district if certain guidelines are satisfied could be considered to be conditional or special uses.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake
    Q: What has changed or what is changing in my community what would necessitate an update of our zoning ordinance?
    The ordinance should annually be scruntized to verify its applicability to the comprehensive plan, social, and economic changes.

    Changes that have occured in the past that can cause the zoning ordinance to be updated are: the decline of heavy manufacturing, population shifts, transportation changes, technology improvements, an increasing senior population, changes in commercial market forms, division of economic classes, and school district evolution.
    Last edited by boiker; 14 Apr 2004 at 9:24 AM. Reason: possessive it's when it was not needed.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  10. #10

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    Ditto both of boiker's points. I would add that, in designing and mapping zoning districts, one should strive to create the fewest possible nonconforming uses.

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