I'm no zoning expert, although I have learned a few things in the past year, nor am I a big zoning fan. However, one rule interests me: setbacks.
We all know about minimum setback rules. But how about maximum setbacks? In the West Duluth neighborhood (in Duluth, MN), there is an old pedestrian "downtown" area from the beginning of the century or before, with buildings right up to the broad sidewalks. However, in other areas, there is commercial development, yet the predominant building style (these are much newer, e.g. 1970 - up) seems to push the building back, sometimes at least 40 feet from the sidewalk, to accomodate a giant front parking lot. Now, I'm not totally against parking lots, but these make the neighborhood less pedestrian-friendly (especially in appearance) and in most cases could easily be implemented behind the buildings, as there are alleys almost everywhere. Though the houses in the neighborhood are quite dense (mostly SFD's, but on smaller lots, built before car culture took over), I hardly ever see anybody on the sidewalks in the mentioned areas. So, would a maximum setback rule perhaps help to quell this type of development? Do they exist? Or are we so stuck in our auto-only ways that if the building isn't built to say "you drive here, not walk, crazy!" we don't patronize it?