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Thread: How are form-based codes flexible with density??

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    How are form-based codes flexible with density??

    After checking out several books and searching online, I have not, for the life of me, found answers to the following:

    (1) Do form-based codes regulate density? I was under the impression that it only regulates form in different transects, and that inherently regulates density. But I am looking a the SmartCode, and it has something called "Base Residential Density", with units/acre, and it does not really explain what that means.

    (2) If form-based codes regulate density, how can people gradually change density above or below their regulations? This question applies to form overall as well, which I suppose brings the whole idea of form-based codes into question. I am under the assumption that traditionally (as in before modern zoning began about 100 years ago in the US), densities and form changed gradually and organically, without having to change any regulations or designations for areas, like zones or transects or districts. If there is a desire or pressure to increase or reduce density above or below a numeric or form-based limit, or adapt form, I assume one would have to revise the designation for the area? If that is the case, making changes can be difficult and induce conflict that wouldn't have existed without the designation, and people would have accepted incremental changes. Thus, wouldn't any explicit or implicit density and form limitations severely restrict the ability for a place to change?

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    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    The comprehensive plan regulates density, not implementing ordinances, including FBCs.

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    And how does a comprehensive plan do that? Conventional zoning implements density into 3 or more classes based on minimum lot sizes and maximum number of units per lot. Do plans under form-based codes work the same way? Either way, my second question still applies. Thanks.

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I would say theoretically density doesn't need as much control when you use form based codes. The form code would control it by dictating how big or small a lot should be and how many structures along with how big those structures can or can't be. Something like an apartment complex wouldn't be able to locate in the wrong transect. At least we hope. The other option is to create a hybrid code of some kind where you just use the form code to regulate better design and maintain the standard use and density codes.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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    I suppose I'll ask this way - do you know of any successfully implemented form-based codes that do not have density requirements (minimum lot sizes per unit(s))?
    That is, do you know of any form-based codes that both do not make requirements on lot sizes nor requirements on area per unit?
    If you do know of such a code, can you give some examples and their requirements that effectively restrict density?

    I see in the SmartCode they have minimum and maximum lot widths (which are very small, like 18 ft, and pretty large, like 96 ft for the less dense transects), and maximum lot coverages (starting at 60%), and maximum and minimum heights. What about the number of units (again, they mention "Base Residential Density", with units/acre)?

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