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Thread: Performance zoning

  1. #1
    Member
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    Sep 2007
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    Rensselaerville, NY
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    Performance zoning

    I am working with a rural community that is very new to the planning world...the Planning Board subdivision reg's are only a year old. The boards have expressed their disinterest--to put it mildly--in zoning. However, due to local issues as well as the fact that the town is in the NYC watershed, there is an inherent concern for water quality protection. In trying to come up with something that might work for the town before they get slapped with more regulations from the City, the idea of a performance standard zoning ordinance came to mind, where virtually the only criteria to establish standards would be water quality...again, remember--threats of tar and feathers abound with a mention of the "z" word

    I've looked model ordinances online that use perf. zoning and I've read past thread about it...but cant seem to find much about using perf. standards in rural areas and/or for natural resource protection...which the more I think about, makes alot of sense.
    Anyone know of some good resouces/books on the topic and/or have experience with this?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Bucks County, Pennsylvania, has a model Performance Zoning code (here's a link http://www.smartcommunities.ncat.org/codes/bucks.shtml ). The starting point of their approach is evaluating the natural features on the land to determine its capacity for development. It has been used in several rural communities in the county (as well as some suburban ones) for over 20 years.

    When adopting the ordinance, it does take a lot of research/effort to come up with and adjust resource protection ratios to what makes sense in your community for what you are intending to protect and the type of development you want to achieve. It can also be a bit intimidating at first to developers/municipal officials who have never used a system like it--you have to have well-illustrated sample step-by-step directions to get started. And it is zoning--very complicated zoning--but the results can be much more environmentally compatable if it is well crafted.

    Have you looked into doing watershed studies to determine the carrying capacity of land in your community?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Mr. Cool Ice
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    HEHE I know that M.O.

    That ordinance isnt "performance zoning" per se, it is more of a natural resource protection ordinance.

    Are you talking true performance zoning...as opposed to euclidean?

  4. #4
    Member
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    I am talking true performance, non-euclidean, zoning. While I'll dont agree with their "dont tell me what to do with my land" mantra--I have yet to see an outcome of traditional zoning in rural communities that would make the battle worth it--but I'm convince that there has to some mechanism that they could handle. Water quality seems like an pretty indisputable issue...the lowest common denomonater if you will. Ive looked at Buck's County Model Ordinance.

    We are about to embark on a GEIS to assess impacts of future development on water quality for the sub-watershed that encompasses over 90% of the town as well as a stream management plan for the primary stream in the watershed.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Jan 2004
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    montana
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    Get in touch with Williston, Vermont. The planner there is a past poster on this site and has done a lot with performance zoning ordinances over the years, most recently with water quality. He might be able to point you to some of the stuff they're doing.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Jul 2007
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    Tullinge Sweden
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    The Swedish approach

    If I thought you could read Swedish I'd refer you to some samples of how the Swedes handle this type of issue.

    Two basic approaches, one used more than the other. The planning law allows municipalities to create "Special area decisions" or better "Special decision areas" where a limited number of thematic restrictions are imposed generally without detailed zoning plans. These have not really caught on, perhaps they are just too flexible.

    The other is imposed through the environmental legislation and is the "Water Protection Area." After thorough technical analysis of the issues involved and compulsory public consultation, an area can be declared a WPA. It may be subdivided into smaller areas with slightly different types of restrictions.

    It is common that the regulations then include a table indicating which types of activities within each class of area (in effect zones) need special permission or must follow special implementation and operational requirements. There may be everything from the use of agricutlural chemicals to the use of de-fatting detergents for washing cars.

    In some cases things get rather drastic. I used to live close to a small lake that is Stockholm's emergency water supply. You can walk around it and look at it, , but you can't swim in it, boat or fish in it, you cannot skate on it in winter, nor even walk on the ice, and the farms around it have strict regulation of use of fertilisers and pesticides. A major highway running past it has a special drainage system that ensures that any chemical spill from an accident cannot enter the lake.

    Anyway, WPAs are very common in Sweden and work rather well I believe.

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