Thanks for your input in my previous SmartCode thread! What's described in my first post there is really ungainly, and probably not doable.
Some of the following is reposted from the FAC; sorry if it states the obvious to those familiar with the SmartCode.
The community I work for is a town (for all practical purposes, home-rule) that encircles a small city that is almost built out. The bulk of existing development consists of single family houses in very low density (0.5 - 2 du/ac) subdivisions, with some frontage residential development in outlying areas. There are still sizable agricultural (productive and vacant) and natural areas. There is relatively little commercial development. A major research university (20,000+ students) straddles the city/town boundary, and a 6,000 student liberal arts college is contained entirely in the town. The character could probably be best described as low-density suburban/exurban.
The political environment is very progressive and favorable of strong land use planning; leaders here can see the big picture more clearly than other places where I've worked. However, there is also a very high level of NIMBYism and environmental activism in the region. There is a popular perception among some that low-density residential development is "greener" than denser development, because it has less impervious surface coverage.
We're in the process of writing a new comprehensive plan. TPTB are very interested in learning more about form-based codes. The SmartCode, one type of FBC I'm looking at, doesn't have zones per se, but rather transects that would be part of a larger traditional neighborhood development (TND) or clustered land development (CLD), centered around a pedestrian shed. The intensity of a development is determined by the designation of the underlying land on a regional scale map; O-1 and O-2 (open space preserve and open space reserve), G-1 (restricted growth sector), G-2 (controlled growth sector), G-3 (intended growth sector) and G-4 (infill sector). I'm working on a conceptual regional scale plan map if my community decided to go with the SmartCode route. (The community where I worked previously has the SmartCode, but not a regional scale plan; farmland and open space preservation was a very low priority, so essentially the entire city was an intended growth sector.)
A big challenge: as in many other communities in the Northeastern US, the land ownership pattern is quite fragmented, making it a challenge for a developer to create a new community plan for a TND or CLD. Unlike the Western US, large contiguous parcels are uncommon here. Many of the relatively intact large parcels that are here are productive farms with underlying agricultural zoning, which would likely remain in the O-2 sector.
To address the dearth of large, contiguous non-ag/conservation parcels, I'm considering a new community type, the PND, or pocket neighborhood development, to permit NU development on smaller parcels (2-10? acre) where a TND or CLD would be impractical. A PND would be intended to eventually be absorbed into a larger TND that might be built in the future. However, the ped shed concept might not be part of a PND, since having a commercial component and civic space for what's essentially a cottage community or small subdivision would be impractical. There might only be one or two transects in a PND, depending on the underlying growth sector designation on the regional scale plan. It's something that might make NU purists furious, but we have to be pragmatic, and play with the cards we're dealt.
Immediate transit improvements aren't likely. The buildout period for new neighborhood units would probably be 10 to 20 years, given the region's slow but steady population growth.