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Thread: Pocket zoning?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Utah
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    Pocket zoning?

    In a sudden reversal of discussion about encouraging commercial growth in our little town to begin at the old town center and grow outward, I now hear our board talking about "pocket zoning" as though it were a desirable alternative. Does this term mean something to you guys? I have a vague notion it refers to providing for commercial centers in numerous small neighborhoods rather than concentrating business in one place. I can see advantages to this in the larger scale of more urban areas, but am having a hard time understanding how it could work in a rural town of pop. 400, which has almost no commercial development at all so far (though we are on the verge of having over 100 new homes built). Could this be a smart approach, or is it an invitation to sprawl? Or am I altogether wrong about its meaning? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Maximov, This sounds like a proposal I have been working on for our town. I envision commercial development around certain intersections with higher density residential surrounding it. I have seen this type of development refered to as node development. Budgie had some links to Jacksonville NC that seem to illistrate some of this type of work. If I can ever get anything together [and convince our board to do it] I will try to post our results. However this is still a work in progress so it might take a while. If you want what I have, pm me and I will send it to you.

  3. #3

    Registered
    May 1997
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    Williston, VT
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    Never heard it called "pocket zoning" before, but it is not uncommon for a city to provide for neighborhood-oriented commercial uses around specified intersections. I wrote a nice version for the City of Idaho Falls, ID many years ago. I think you may also find a version in Fort Collins, CO that would be a good model. The key is to not make your node too big, otherwise it will attract commercial uses that are not really neighborhood-oriented. I think I limited it to 2 acres in I.F.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    That is exactly the kind of strategy we are pursuing in my city. We want to serve a hierarchy of needs, including neighborhood, community, and regional. A neighborhood center might support a population of 5-10,000 people and could include small offices and shops, with perhaps a grocery as the primary anchor. It would take the form of a node, not a strip. A community center would be larger, serving 50-100,000 people, and including a limited number of large-format stores, such as groceries, home improvement, etc. A regional center serves a population of 100,000 or more. It is a destination. In our case, it would be the downtown with its specialty shops and restaurants, as well as the primary commercial district, with departments store and caregory store anchors.

    What I am descirbing works in a city of 50,000 or more people, because the population base is large enough to support the different intensities of use. In a city of 400 people, it simply does not apply. You have one commercial district. There is no opportunity for "pocket" commercial. It sounds like somebody is trying to co-opt a popular term to gain support for allowing random development patterns.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Apr 2004
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    Utah
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    Thanks very much, all. It does sound like a sensible approach in a place of large enough population. However, in a tiny hamlet like ours, it seems to me that we not only would miss out on the benefits small businesses would gain from proximity to one another, but it would also lead to an uninviting spotty strip of businesses along our scenic highway. Am I on the right track? Are there other advantages or disadvantages that I may point out to the board?

  6. #6

    Registered
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    In your situation I think you need to concentrate activity just as much as you can so that the businesses support each other.

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