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Thread: Comprehensive plan future land use designations

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Comprehensive plan future land use designations

    Anyone see any really interesting ways to describe future land use categories in a comprehensive plan? I usually used short-but-sweet summaries, such as:

    Quote Originally posted by Dan, from a comp plan I wrote years ago

    Traditional neighborhood residential

    Traditional neighborhood residential uses include single-family houses, and very limited accessory dwelling units and semi-detached residential development, situated in an environment modeled on a pre-1940 village or suburban neighborhood. Such development features human-scale design, an interconnected street network that provides a variety of routes for local traffic, town and neighborhood centers, public spaces, civic uses and other features that foster a sense of community. Contemporary suburban development (street pattern with limited connectivity, pods, excessive use of cul-de-sacs, lower density residential development) is strongly discouraged.

    An ideal default density is five units per acre (excluding public right-of-way). When a TDR program is implemented, development credits may be transferred into this area, increasing the maximum density to eight units per acre (excluding public right-of-way).
    I think the powers that be where I work are looking for something a bit more descriptive.

    I've seen photos of representative and desired development in land use designations, which I really like.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    I will have to think, but off the top of my head the more descriptive you can be the better. However, do you have the zoning code to back up the use of more detailed planning designations?

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Anyone see any really interesting ways to describe future land use categories in a comprehensive plan? I usually used short-but-sweet summaries, such as:



    I think the powers that be where I work are looking for something a bit more descriptive.

    I've seen photos of representative and desired development in land use designations, which I really like.
    You can do what Lowell Mass did and produce an illustrated handbook of each future L-U category complete with photos, massing diagrams, and a table of the applicable statistics for each type.

    But if you make it too detailed, it becomes a substitute for your zoning handbook..

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I tend to agree with you in favoring short summaries, which provide some flexibility for interpretation over time. I do think the use of photos to illustrate the land use type is a good idea. A few weeks ago I started putting together a comprehensive table of uses and development patterns - something I will likely be at for a long time.
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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    You can do what Lowell Mass did and produce an illustrated handbook of each future L-U category complete with photos, massing diagrams, and a table of the applicable statistics for each type.

    But if you make it too detailed, it becomes a substitute for your zoning handbook..
    I tried looking for it in the Lowell plan, to no avail. Do you have a link?

    Good point about making descriptions too detailed.

    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    I will have to think, but off the top of my head the more descriptive you can be the better. However, do you have the zoning code to back up the use of more detailed planning designations?
    We'll be writing a new zoning code once the comp plan is adopted. I'd like to use the UDC I wrote in Texas as a foundation for the new code.

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I tend to agree with you in favoring short summaries, which provide some flexibility for interpretation over time. I do think the use of photos to illustrate the land use type is a good idea. A few weeks ago I started putting together a comprehensive table of uses and development patterns - something I will likely be at for a long time.
    Do you have an example of this table?

    I'm also thinking about incorporating transects in some way, in the form of describing the context of each land use category. It'll be a way to slowly introduce city leaders to the idea of form-based coding. They seem interested, but it's a big leap to make in a part of the country where planning practice is about 30+ years behind the times. The region is extremely progressive with a high level of design and "green" awareness. They know what they don't like, which is generally what planners aren't too fond of either nowadays. The problem is they've never seen the tools available to them now. Old-school comp plans with TLDR text blocks, stories of Jebediah Townfounder and his grist mill and tavern, no specific elements, and legalese-filled Euclidian zoning codes are the norm.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    I tried looking for it in the Lowell plan, to no avail. Do you have a link?
    Ah.. I found it. It looks like they reclassified it as "Design Guidelines"

    http://www.lowellma.gov/depts/dpd/DG

    Dunno if that means it was never actually adopted and formerly attached to the general plan. I think that they've had a bit of regime change in their planning dept recently..

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Thanks!

    I think I had a little flash of brilliance! What do you think of something like this:

    * Defining typologies (e.g. cottage residential, suburban residential, neighborhood residential, types of multifamily, types of commercial, and so on).
    * Having a chart of future land use categories, recommended typologies for the category, and a lost of policies.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    According to the loudest people in my public meetings there are only two future land uses:

    1. Sprawl (AKA) Bad
    2. Keep it all the same.

    Amazingly a proposed freeway interchange ramp Downtown which would open up a fallow area for development is also defines as sprawl. If you build a parking structure, it is also sprawl.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Thanks!

    I think I had a little flash of brilliance! What do you think of something like this:

    * Defining typologies (e.g. cottage residential, suburban residential, neighborhood residential, types of multifamily, types of commercial, and so on).
    * Having a chart of future land use categories, recommended typologies for the category, and a lost of policies.
    Did you mean list of policies? That sounds like an ideal approach. It would be something that could be easily laid out in a poster alongside the future land use map.
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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    According to the loudest people in my public meetings there are only two future land uses.
    he. Well. you can always do what Rochester NY did, and zoned their entire Downtown and most of the urban neighborhoods around it, with a single zone (albeit with a couple overlays). Didn't work.

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    Cyburbian
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    The key to a "traditional" neighbourhood or an "urban" neighbourhood is the same - walkablity. If you can implement guidelines, regulations and policies that support creating walkable neighbourhoods, policies that not only includes making a lot of pedestrian connections, but also making those connections attactive, safe and efficient, then you will end up with the kind of neighbourhood you want without having to regulate a lot of ther other things that you might not what to regulate.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    The key to a "traditional" neighbourhood or an "urban" neighbourhood is the same - walkablity. If you can implement guidelines, regulations and policies that support creating walkable neighbourhoods, policies that not only includes making a lot of pedestrian connections, but also making those connections attactive, safe and efficient, then you will end up with the kind of neighbourhood you want without having to regulate a lot of ther other things that you might not what to regulate.
    I think this is a very mobility centric view. One can argue that an urban neighborhood is one in which there is sufficient diversity of land-uses and building types and associated economic activity to form an economically sustainable cluster. Walkability helps, but so do land-use grain, density, use-mixing and proximity effects, and other factors.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    I think this is a very mobility centric view. One can argue that an urban neighborhood is one in which there is sufficient diversity of land-uses and building types and associated economic activity to form an economically sustainable cluster. Walkability helps, but so do land-use grain, density, use-mixing and proximity effects, and other factors.
    Absolutely, but walkability is the key difference between any "traditional" neighbourhood and a "typical" neighbourhood. The density, land use, built-form all determine the type of neighbourhood it is, but most of the issues planners are trying to address when creating "traditional" neighbourhoods can be resolved by working out the pedestrain network first and then layering on the other factors as required. Typically most new neighbourhoods are designed by laying out the automobile network first. Often the pedestrain realm is the last element considered, if it's even considered at all. When designing a "traditional" (pre-1940-esque) neighbourhood the real thing you are trying to replicate is the walkability patterns not the vehicular pattern. Therefore couching your regulations in vehicular language is problematic.

    For example, prohibiting cul-de-sacs may seem like a simple way to get through-streets, but the concept of cul-de-sacs have existing for hundreds of years. The difference is prior to the 1940's they generally ended in a park or pathway through to other streets allowing pedestrians to connect, rather than a set of pie-shaped lots. Cul-de-sacs ending in parks or walkways are still a valid design option in a modern "traditional" neighbourhood, however in the example text above they are strongly discouraged. Why? because the quote is written from an autocentric point-of-view. Change the language to a pedestrian-centric point-of-view and you won't have to discourage cul-de-sacs.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    Absolutely, but walkability is the key difference between any "traditional" neighbourhood and a "typical" neighbourhood. .
    I think we may just have different approaches. I would not begin with circulaton but rather with land-use. If I get the density and program distribution/mix correct, I can then tweak the circulation dimemsions with appropriate strategies. Remember, that the base grid (what you have to work with) is usually set for you.. unless your project is a greenfield subdivision somewhere. In this context, you are first fitting program/land-use and then adjusting the circulation with discrete interventions (strategies) to increase factors such as pedestrian accessibility of the program/land-use mix you're putting forward. At least this is what I would do. Alternatively, if your project is urban enough and, at big enough scale, I suppose you can begin with the civic structure, like the Beaux Arts guys did in the late 19th century.. but that's a rarer approach (what they do at places like Chan Krieger).

    I would argue that starting with circulation has been the problem.. something nobody really did until the mid 20th century. In my opinon, rogramming should define the circulation envirnoment, not the other way around. I know this is all a matter of relative emphasis, but how you enter into the problem can influence the outcome.

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    Cyburbian
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    The original post is talking about 'future land use catagories", so I assume it's a greenfield situation. It's also talking about 5 to 8 upa so the land use and density is already relatively well defined. The next step I would take when deisgning a "traditional" neighbourhood is to identfiy the location of destinations within and surrounding the new neighbourhood (schools, retail areas, parks etc.) and then layout the block pattern based on walkable sized blocks that make the connectons to and between the destinations as conveniently, safely and attractively as possible for pedestrains. Then I would look at the vechular traffic network and tweek the plan as necessary to ensure that vehicles could move through the neighbourhood, while not jeopardizing the pedestrian system.

    If I were designing a typical subdivision I would start with the vehicluar network, then locate the 'destinations', then tweek the plan to make the pedestrian network acceptable.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    The original post is talking about 'future land use catagories", so I assume it's a greenfield situation. It's also talking about 5 to 8 upa so the land use and density is already relatively set.
    Possibly. But "future land use" usually just refers to future designation, not to the current state of development. For example,most cities I've worked with have 3 land use layers in their comp plans covering the entire city: existing land-use, current zoned land-use, planned land-use. Each parcel has all three specifications attached them 'em.

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