I'm in the process of rewriting my town's zoning code, attempting to consolidate all land use regulations into one simple Plain English document. I'm incorporating plenty of illustrations and tables, and I'm testing one concept I've never seen elsewhere -- definitions for terms that are uses only in a particular section are in that section, not a specal "definitions" section. Pretty much, the code is set up like this ...
The Development Code is intended to consolidate all the Town’s land use regulations into one plain English document that will be both comprehensive and easy to use. The Development Code is intended to answer all questions regarding development in the Town, including the following:
Article 1 – Administration
The big picture – how are these regulations administered and enforced?
What process is used for a type of development activity?
Who makes the decisions?
How are the various boards and committees organized?
How are violations resolved?
What does being “grandfathered” mean? What rules apply to “grandfathered” uses and buildings?
How is this code interpreted?
Article 2 – Zoning and land use standards
The big picture – what can I do on a property?
What are the zoning districts? What is a PUD?
What special standards apply in certain zoning districts?
Where uses are permitted in a particular zoning district?
What requirements apply to specific types of businesses or uses?
What about externalities a use may cause, such as traffic, smoke, and noise?
Article 3 – Site design standards
The big picture – in what way should a specific site be developed?
Where should buildings and other improvements be placed on a property?
How much parking and loading is needed? How should it be configured?
What site amenities are required?
What should new structures look like?
What landscaping is required? What is done about existing trees?
What type of outdoor lighting is allowed?
What type of signage is allowed?
Article 4 – Subdivision standards
The big picture – in what way should land be divided, and streets be laid out?
How should lots be configured?
How should streets be laid out?
What is a preliminary plat? What is a final plat?
How should lot drainage work?
Are road improvements required?
What is a construction improvement agreement?
Where do easements and utility lines go?
How are addresses and street names determined?
Article 5 – Road design standards
The big picture – how should individual streets be designed?
How wide should streets be?
How can streets be both safe and slow?
How should streets be constructed?
Where should sidewalks go?
I'll have "Draft 0.1" complete for the next Planning Commission meeting, and I'm also going to give copies of the code to other area planning officials for a "smoke test," to find potential loopholes.
There's hundreds of good zoning codes online, but I'm trying to seek out the rare code that is easy to understand amoung laypeople, written in Plain English (no legal jargon such as "said," "notwithstanding" and "aforementioned"), and relatively short. Ever see the "perfect zoning code" online?