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Thread: Changing zoning laws after increased development

  1. #1
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    Changing zoning laws after increased development

    I hope someone can assist me: I am researching municipalities in the U.S. that have altered their zoning laws after experiencing increased real estate development. I know Chicago is a good example, but can anyone give examples of any others?

    Thank you!!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    I suggest you look at Every City, USA.

    Seriously, I think you will find that many (if not most) municipalities alter their zoning regulations in response to increased real estate development. Zoning laws generally arise out of the public's response to increased development pressures.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gcianfrani View post
    I hope someone can assist me: I am researching municipalities in the U.S. that have altered their zoning laws after experiencing increased real estate development. I know Chicago is a good example, but can anyone give examples of any others?

    Thank you!!
    I suggest you have to be specific in your research why you want to know how these cities changed their zoning. Rezoning comes in different reasons and you have to rationalize what aspect you're interested in. Thanks

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    I concur with the two posters above. As rural areas develop, more regulation ensues. As suburban areas urbanize, more regulations get put on the books. As urban areas redevelop, additional regulations follow. As you find out a specific area that you want to concentrate in you will find a bevy of choices on how towns, cities, and counties deal with these issues.

    Personally, if I was in your shoes, I would flip the question and research how jurisdictions reduce development regulations to help shape market demand in redevelopment through the concept of incentive zoning.
    Satellite City Enabler

  5. #5
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    Okay, I'll try to be more specific...and thanks for your responses. I'm working on a project for Philadelphia; I'm not a City Planner, I'm in Public Policy. Philadelphia's zoning code is more than 600 pages in length and hasn't been revised in 50 years. In the past five years, the City has increased development by some ridiculous percentage- somewhere around 2000%. The zoning laws are so confusing, antiquated and inefficient that they're a headache to administer. A couple legislators want to rewrite the zoning laws for the purpose of a) modernization b) cost efficiency c) improving environmental quality.

    I have plenty of ideas regarding the implementation of environmental improvements with the use of "green" building incentives or requirements. Second, I used Chicago as an example, because like Philadelphia, they were in a similar situation with old and confusing zoning laws mixed with massive increased real estate development. They've streamlined the code and made it more user friendly (without addressing environmental issues). So are there other municipalities that you can think of that are in the same boat? I was reading that Houston has NO zoning ordinances what-so-ever and they're in serious trouble now because real estate growth is out of control.

    Thanks again,

    Gabrielle

    Quote Originally posted by Plan-it View post
    I concur with the two posters above. As rural areas develop, more regulation ensues. As suburban areas urbanize, more regulations get put on the books. As urban areas redevelop, additional regulations follow. As you find out a specific area that you want to concentrate in you will find a bevy of choices on how towns, cities, and counties deal with these issues.

    Personally, if I was in your shoes, I would flip the question and research how jurisdictions reduce development regulations to help shape market demand in redevelopment through the concept of incentive zoning.
    Philadelphia Councilman Frank DiCicco introduced incentives such as TIFs and 10 year tax abatements in underdeveloped areas, and those areas were slammed with new development. It's economically fantastic for the city, but problems exist because of such things as water drainage and parking that are causing streets to flood (that have never historically flooded) and traffic congestion.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 05 Jan 2007 at 8:39 AM. Reason: double reply

  6. #6
    Moderator note:
    Welcome to Cyburbia, gcianfrani. Forum rules prohibit posting the same thread in multiple sub-forums. I have left this thread open as it has several replies, but closed the other thead you started.

    In the future, please choose the best sub-forum for your topic and post it there. If you have any questions about where to post a thread, feel free to PM a mod, and we'll be happy to assist you. Carry on.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    A couple of points:

    Like the first two posters stated, zoning regulations are constantly being updated/revised/"modernized" and often brutalized. I'm willing to bet that the zoning regulations adopted 50 years ago were not 600 pages in length at that time. Instead, they have been "updated" over time to address perceived (and real) issues that developed over time. This results in well-intentioned, but maddening, layering of regulations that creates numerous problems.

    Secondly, what was appropriate 50 years ago may not be very appropriate today. How many zoning ordinances today mention "internet switching stations" versus the number that regulate livery's or horse stables. We tend to add, add, add and rarely delete anything.

    It sounds like you are looking to undertake a complete rewrite of your ordinance. The first thing you need to do is to determine if you want to continue with a traditional (probably Euclidian-based) zoning ordinance or move on to a performance-based or form-based approach. This would then influence how you would approach the next steps and types of consultants you want to hire.

    The other option, if you are simply wanting to clean things up, is to look into a Unified Plan. This usually includes a great amount of Spring Cleaning of the regulations eliminating redundancy and antiquated concepts, but usually doesn't try to influence new zoning approaches.

    For a City the size of Philly, any approach would be a MAJOR undertaking. Expect it to take 2-3 years and cost a bunch of money to do it right.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Take a look at Arlington County, Virginia. It's a county in name, but really is for all practical purposes a city. It's the part of Virginia that the state gave up to be included in the District of Columbia, which then gave it back at some point. The Columbia Pike form-based zoning is a good example of the kinds of changes a lot of cities are making.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Does Philly have a comp. plan? Because your new zoning code should conform to the objectives laid out in the plan. If not, or if it's as old as the zoning code, I would suggest that the "City in the First Class" you are working for contact the "City in the Second Class" on the other side of the Commonwealth. Someone there could certainly give you pointers on the ins-and-outs of starting from scratch with a new zoning code.

  10. #10
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    Not sure!

    Quote Originally posted by biscuit View post
    Does Philly have a comp. plan? Because your new zoning code should conform to the objectives laid out in the plan. If not, or if it's as old as the zoning code, I would suggest that the "City in the First Class" you are working for contact the "City in the Second Class" on the other side of the Commonwealth. Someone there could certainly give you pointers on the ins-and-outs of starting from scratch with a new zoning code.
    I was reading that 40-50 years ago, Philly lead the U.S. in a comp. city planning model regarding what they wanted the city to look like now. There was a big conference held in center city. I don't think that's been done in recent days and it ought to be. The current code, as with most in the country, seems only to address matters like how high a fence can be and how far from the curb a building can sit...but there's no real "vision."

  11. #11
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    Most of the municipalities in my area have changed their zoning ordinances due to increase development, but in the wrong direction. They are requiring larger lot sizes in subdivisions becuse they think it will decrease the amount of homes that can be built on a parcel that's up for subdivision. They are taking more land for the house instead of making smaller lot sizes and leaving open space. They are yet to imbrace any sort of conservation design standards up here. There's supposedly one that's been approved and almost ready to be sold to individual homebuyers. I'm curious to see what it's going to look like.

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