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Thread: Form based code/new urbanism design regulations

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Form based code/new urbanism design regulations

    Does anyone have any examples (code and/or pictures) of successful building design regulations for Form Based Codes or New Urbanist Codes in suburban areas?

    Not too long ago, there was a discussion with Jonathan Lavine, chair of the Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University if Michigan on Smart City (CLICK HERE FOR LINK), and he believes that current zoning code regulations require and promote auto oriented dependence.

    I think that that while we play a political game to achieve the greatest good for the community, we only provide information to the elected decision makers who approve or deny the codes that we create. Maybe with improved information and seeing the true benefits, more elected individuals will realize the mistakes of the past and move into a new direction.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Paris had its first form-based code way back in the 18th century. It worked out pretty well for them. You should look into that.

  3. #3

    Here are some good examples...

    Sonoma, CA
    Hercules, CA
    Petaluma, CA
    Sedona, AZ - personally my favorite. TRULY, what one can do if you have the backing of the elected officials and community to make change happen.
    Forechecking is overrated.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    Michaelskis we have some form based controls for our town centres - see this link. Look at download 4 - the Area Plans. The sketches aren't great and we are still to see many built examples of the product of the controls, but the few examples we have, we are happy with.

    We don't have the same taxing regimes for Cities and don't have retrospective conformance controls that you have so many of the points made in the interviews aren't relevant to our circumstances. Therefore I'm not sure a straight examination of our controls is very relevant to you.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I believe Grand Rapids, MI just up the road from you is implementing form based codes with the help of the LSL consulting firm located in the city. They had a great presentation at the last MAP conference on Mackinac Island last September.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jringel
    I believe Grand Rapids, MI just up the road from you is implementing form based codes with the help of the LSL consulting firm located in the city. They had a great presentation at the last MAP conference on Mackinac Island last September.
    Yes, they are. I have been in contact with a person who works in that office to get material. I was also able to get the hand out materials and copy of the .ppt from the conference.

    I was looking for something that has been established for a few years now and has proven successful for that location.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  7. #7
    Cyburbian DecaturHawk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Yes, they are. I have been in contact with a person who works in that office to get material. I was also able to get the hand out materials and copy of the .ppt from the conference.

    I was looking for something that has been established for a few years now and has proven successful for that location.
    Hey, 'Skis:

    We've been partnering with Ferrell Madden on most of our projects; they give us the strategies and patterns, we write the codes. Their website has some good examples of form based programs:

    http://www.geoffreyferrell.com/

    Let me know what you think.
    SOME say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate
    To know that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    Robert Frost (1874–1963) (From Harper’s Magazine, December 1920.)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DecaturHawk
    Hey, 'Skis:

    We've been partnering with Ferrell Madden on most of our projects; they give us the strategies and patterns, we write the codes. Their website has some good examples of form based programs:

    http://www.geoffreyferrell.com/

    Let me know what you think.
    I had the opportunity to speak with Mary Madden a while back at a Form Based Codes training session hosted by the Michigan Association of Planning. She gave me several good links of projects to work on and said that she would help any that she can. Mary also suggested that I contact your boss to see about the plan that you guys are working on for that city up there...

    I plan on doing that in Early April. Will most of the plan be done by then?

    She also gave me a link that had some information. The only downfall is there is very little real data or information relating to the economic influence that Form Base Codes have had on the Municipalities.

    Additionally, in our Comprehensive Master Plan (created by the firm you work for) has a provision for a City Centre, and I am looking into the creation of a Form Based Codes overlay district that would be consistent the Master Plan, as well as create a visible downtown in an otherwise suburban auto oriented community.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  9. #9
    Cyburbian DecaturHawk's avatar
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    The GR Form Based Code should be substantially finished by April. As you may or may not know, their planning director retired a few months back and that has slowed the project down a bit.

    As to a form based city center for Portage, let's definitely talk about that.
    SOME say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate
    To know that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    Robert Frost (1874–1963) (From Harper’s Magazine, December 1920.)

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    The Town of Cary, NC is considered to be the poster child for "smart" planning in NC. It is very suburban. Its Visual Interactive Code is posted online at:

    http://vic.townofcary.org/

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    Form-based Codes and Design Guidelines

    It seems to me that Form-Based Codes (FBC) are basically expanded Design Guidelines. It also seems that pure ABCs do not necessarily address uses or quantifiable items such as parking requirements, density, ISR, FAR, etc.

    It further seems to me that FBC basically follows a "Function follows form." line of thinking.


    Any thoughts on that?

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    Form-based zoning in PA, NJ, NY

    I'm currently investigating the opportunity for implementing form-based zoning in PA, NJ, and NY. I've seen mention of Pottstown, PA as an example of form-based code, but after looking at their implementation, it seems more like a design guideline, with few prescriptive or proscriptive requirements. I've also seen Saratoga Springs mentioned, but can't seem to find any reference to their zoning code online.

    So, three questions:
    1) Anyone aware of other form-based zoning implementations in any of these states?
    2) Any thoughts on whether these states' enabling legislation will allow for form-based zoning or whether state level enabling legislation needs to be addressed?
    3) Can someone point me to Saratoga Spring's zoning ordinance online?

    Thanks...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally posted by CCMNUT39 View post
    Sedona, AZ - personally my favorite. TRULY, what one can do if you have the backing of the elected officials and community to make change happen.
    Yowza - very detailed requirements, but probably a bit onerous for a developer. One would probably want to streamline this a bit for a city in a more competitive environment (i.e. a city with less cache) than Sedona. I could see developers backing away from developing in a less desirable town with zoning of a similar level of complexity. Similar outcome could probably achieved with a more streamlined set of regulations. Just something to consider...

  14. #14
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    Composite Zoning

    I am a planner in Leander, Texas. We adopted a version of the Smart Code for about 20% of the City, a TOD development oriented around a commuter rail station. We have high expectations about what this code will do for us but this is a long term project and it is not off the ground yet.

    For the remainder of the City we went with a different code format. We call it "Composite Zoning". Don't confuse this with a composite zoning map for several zoning jurisdictions. It is a zoning format that allows form standards appropriate to site context to be combined with use districts. This allows independent zoning decisions about appropriate form rules. This format can be utilized with traditional standards, conventional standards, or other standards appropriate to the community. If you are interested, check out the Composite Zoning General Publication link on our web site at www.ci.leander.tx.us (middle of the page). You will also find the ordinance link on this page.

    The "Composite" ordinance received the 2006 APA "Innovative Planning Award" for Central Texas and the "Current Planning Award" for the state.

    The code has been in use for close to two years in Leander and has proven very workable. It also raised form standards for our community. Our code contains mainly conventional standards with some traditional leanings. We may explore more traditional standards in the "composite" format after we complete our Comprehensive Plan update.

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