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Thread: Area specific zoning districts

  1. #1
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Area specific zoning districts

    Does anyone specifically allow a zoning district (or more than one) in certain areas of your community but not others. Of course we restrict districts to areas by policy (ie that is not a good location for commercial). But what I really mean is do you legally restrict one district to a specific geographic area (say in-town) but not another.

    I want to create an infill zoning category, but I do not want to open-up my entire community for it. I am afraid that it can be abused in other areas.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Sure. We have two boutique zoning districts that are neighborhood specific and that occur nowhere else in our jurisdiction. Each has a unique set of physical development/land use issues that the zoning tries to address.

    Just be sure your enabling legislation allows it, but I can't see anything wrong with it.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Sure....

    I worked in one rural place in Colorado that had a specific zone district for an unincorporated town......seemed to work well...
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  4. #4
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    infill gone bad

    you can also use the overlay zone method if infill coats a couple of districts where you want that particular use - so you would describe the overlay by area and then list the use and criteria and permitting process

    but i like the term "boutique zoning" - that's so much more cool!

    you can also make infill a special use permit whereby certain criteria would have to be met, even have threshold criteria which would prevent an application in an area where you don't want infill

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    We have lots of zones like this. Zones which only apply to areas which have water and sewer services and zones which apply only in rural resource and agricultural areas.

  6. #6
    Member DRJ's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mallen
    Does anyone specifically allow a zoning district (or more than one) in certain areas of your community but not others. Of course we restrict districts to areas by policy (ie that is not a good location for commercial). But what I really mean is do you legally restrict one district to a specific geographic area (say in-town) but not another.

    I want to create an infill zoning category, but I do not want to open-up my entire community for it. I am afraid that it can be abused in other areas.

    Any thoughts?


    There are many different ways to implement an infill development ordinance. You can scrap your existing code in that area and add something new, use an overlay district (which keeps existing zoning but adds/deletes rules specific for the area), or you could move to a form based code for the area. You need to decide what you want to get out of the ordinance and that will help you to decide the direction you want to go.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    I would imagine the appropriate way to do that would be to ammend your comprehensive/general plan to allow certain zone districts to only occur in certain areas.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    In a previuos job we had a zone specifically for the historic downtowns and it was used nowhere else. We also had a zone for a closed military base that was used nowhere else.

    As noted, the special circumstances of these areas was identified and addressed in the Official Plan and implemented through Zoning.

    Where I work now we have over 1000 of these, they are called site specific zonings.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  9. #9

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    IMO, most zoning districts should be geographically bound because they should reflect resource constraints, infrastructure constraints, and neighborhood character rather than use segregation. It is not hard to write a purpose statement (which as others have pointed must also be reflected in your comp plan) that effectively limits the application of a district to the intended area.

  10. #10
    We use an Overlay District for implementation of our corridor redevelopment plan. There are some communities in the area that use a designation called a "Special Planning Area" which is very site specific. These districts are typically on municipal owned land or they are negotiated with a property owner for some type of mixed use project. These districts have their own list of permitted uses and their own standards for landscaping, signage and parking.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Wildono's avatar
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    Successful Infill Implementation

    Does anyone have successful experience(s!) with infill development occuring after new regulations have been adopted? Particularly in aging strip malls and centers of suburban jurisdictions? Were there also incentives and/or other gov't actions? Eminent domain/aggregating parcels? Ramped up code enforcement?

    I've been looking at a number of existing suburban commercial areas that date back to the 1950s-60s. Most of these properties are noticably deteriorating...and assessed improvement values are well below assessed land values for same. On the other hand, they seem to be working for the ethnic businesses that are located in them. In some cases the vacancy levels are lower than some of the newer commercial strips and centers in town.

    Thanks in advance for any speculation, assertions, requests for clarification, etc.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    OH and....

    In Florida we had LAC's Local Activity Centers and RAC's Regional Activity Centers as master plan designations. The City I worked in adopte a zone district to cover the LAC area for our downtown at that time, allowing mixed uses and many other "new" ideas That worked out well and should make things easier for development in that previously depressed part of the City
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Yup, we have a few. We have a specific zoning district around our hospital. Infill guidelines are quite common these days, you just need to have a good reason why it applies to certain areas and not others.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wildono
    Does anyone have successful experience(s!) with infill development occuring after new regulations have been adopted? Particularly in aging strip malls and centers of suburban jurisdictions? Were there also incentives and/or other gov't actions? Eminent domain/aggregating parcels? Ramped up code enforcement?

    I've been looking at a number of existing suburban commercial areas that date back to the 1950s-60s. Most of these properties are noticably deteriorating...and assessed improvement values are well below assessed land values for same. On the other hand, they seem to be working for the ethnic businesses that are located in them. In some cases the vacancy levels are lower than some of the newer commercial strips and centers in town.

    Thanks in advance for any speculation, assertions, requests for clarification, etc.
    Redevelopment spurred by a change in regulations usually occurs only when an existing regulation is preventing the market from responding to a need, and the new regulation enables it. These are pretty rare instances. Most of the redevelopment I have been involved in comes about either because of market demand (with the developer response unimpeded by regulation) or through city intervention.

    I always caution people about being too quick to redevelop centers like you describe. Is there a market for tenants who will pay higher rent? What may be the impact on the ethnic communities you mention? This sort of cheap space acts as an informal business incubator, allowing poorer people (especially immigrant populations) to start their own businesses and build wealth. These districts can develop into very desirable ethnic enclaves - think of some of the great German or Polish neighborhoods of Chicago, or Chinatown in San Francisco. It takes time, but could be accellerated with wise city intervention.

    What areas of Tacoma are you thinking about? It has been a few years, but I did some retail projects there, mostly in neighborhoods south and east of downtown.
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