Traditional Neighborhood Development and Form-Based Codes
Conventional Zoning Focus on Separating Uses
Widely-adopted conventional zoning codes emphasize segregating land use types into different zones. One obvious result is homes that are more distance from work and the retail uses meant to serve residents. In addition, cul-de-sacs became popular means of keeping commercial and other through traffic out of residential neighborhoods. Such separations, combined with fewer street connections, make walking, cycling and public transit less practical. In turn, there is increased reliance on cars.
Traditional Neighborhood Development Rediscovered
As these downsides of conventional zoning became more apparent, many communities rediscovered the traditional town as a better model for what citizens want in a community. Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) offers a blueprint for neighborhood development based on traditional town patterns, before the era of spread-out auto-oriented development.
TND emphasizes compact, mixed-use, and pedestrian-oriented development. Neighborhoods, sized for easy walking distance, function as the basic building block. TND planners emphasize human-scale design, town and neighborhood centers, public spaces, civic uses and other features that foster a sense of community.
TND is also characterized by an interconnected network streets that provide a variety of routes for vehicle traffic while facilitating walking, cycling and transit. Narrow residential street widths, on-street parking, and street trees reduce traffic speed and create a safe, attractive environment for pedestrians, as well as cars.
The earlier TND codes tended to rely on design guidelines and standards to achieve the above objectives, and many retained some degree of land use restriction.
Form-Based Codes Emerge to Implement Traditional Neighborhood Development Principles
Form-based codes (FBCs) have emerged in the spotlight in recent years. They offer a specific regulatory approach to implementing the principles embraced by TND. In contrast to conventional zoning, FBCs focus on specifying the physical form and design of development and public spaces that matches the community's vision. For instance, conventional zoning codes typically set a limit on the minimum distance that a building must be setback from the street and neighboring property lines. In contrast, a form-based code may specify a "build-to" line that new buildings must align with to fit community patterns.
At the same time, FBCs generally de-emphasize regulation of land uses. FBC advocates argue that tighter environmental controls have reduced the need for separation of different land use types. Also, the FBC focus on the relationship of buildings to each other, to the street, and to public spaces, assures greater compatibility than produced by conventional zoning. These codes also may be applied to establish the physical form and design of development in areas where no coherent pre-existing patterns exist, including new towns.
In practice, there may not be clear distinctions between a code that one community labels "traditional neighborhood development" and one in another community that identifies it as a "form-based code." The Form-Based Codes Institute offers definitions and checklists to identify codes that exhibit key FBC characteristics, even though they may vary in significant ways.
Traditional Neighborhood Development Codes
- Sumner Municipal Code Sec. 18.12.090 - Traditional neighborhood design optional development standards
- Sumner Design and Development Regulations - See Ch. 4 - Single Family - The city has adopted single family design standards that apply to single family development choosing the traditional neighborhood design option, and to any subdivision with ten or more lots
- Northwest Landing, by Jason Miller, The Town Paper, Spring 2005
- DuPont Municipal Code Ch. 25.20 - Residential Districts, and Ch. 25.65 - Multifamily Design Regulations and Guidelines
- Puyallup Municipal Code Sec. 20.26.200 (3) - Traditional street system, and Sec. 20.25.021 - Front yard setback traditional street orientation option
- Stanwood Municipal Code Ch. 17.47 - Traditional Neighborhood Zoning District
- Lacey Municipal Code Ch. 16.59 - Village Center Zone
- Austin, TX
- Palm Beach County, FL Article X, Traditional Neighborhood Development (T.N.D.), District Regulations, Unified Development Code, 2003
- Davis, CA Downtown and Traditional Residential Neighborhood Design Guidelines - Focus on conserving traditional neighborhood character, especially in infill development situations
- Olathe, KS Draft Unified Development Ordinance, 10/30/2013 - Hybrid code incorporating form-based and zoning standards
Model Traditional Neighborhood Development Codes from Other States
General Information on Form-Based Codes
- Form-Based Codes (FBC) Massachusetts - Excellent overview
- Form-Based Codes Implementing Smart Growth Fact Sheet, Local Government Commission
- Form-Based Codes: Lessons Learned from a Mount Holly, NY Case Study, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, 03/2012 - Very helpful outline of process and insightful lessons learned
- A Hybrid Approach to Form Based Codes in the Northwest, Makers Architectural and Urban Design, 01/08/2010 - Very informative article includes links to documents and codes
- Applying Form-Based Codes in the Real World, Don Elliot et al, Pace Law School - Land Use Law Center, 2013 - Set of articles about important questions a community should ask before launching a form-based code effort, legal considerations and practical issues when converting from conventional to form-based zoning
- Form-Based Codes: Practical and Legal Considerations, Mark White, Institute on Planning, Zoning & Eminent Domain, 11/19/2009 - In additional to legal concerns, information about form-based code models, steps
- Form-Based Codes and Walkable Urbanism: How and why communities are making decisions about zoning reform, Daniel Parolek, New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, Seattle, WA, 02/06/2010 -Presentation uses case studies to show substantial reductions in miles driven, energy used, and money saved by form-based development
- Form-Based Code Articles, Planetizen - Many articles with useful insights including a “ways to fail” series
- Form Based Codes for Big Box Retail, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, 10/2007
- Form-Based Zoning for Small Towns and Historic Neighborhoods - Slide presentation from 2010 Landmark and Preservation Conference nicely illustrates concepts using helpful examples
- Form-Based Codes: A New Approach to Zoning, Smart Growth Tactics, Issue 28, Michigan Association of Planning, 2006 - very useful explanation of concepts and differences between form-based codes and conventional zoning
Model Form-Based Codes
- Smart Code, prepared by Duany Plater-Zyberk and Company - Model transect-based development code available for all scales of planning, from the region to the community to the block and building
- Town of Babylon, NY Downtown Wyandanch and Straight Path Corridor Form-Based Code, 11/17/2011 - Implements downtown revitalization plan, and regulates development in commuter rail station vicinity and corridor. 2013 Driehaus Best Form-Based Code Award winner
- Benicia, CA Final Downtown Mixed Use Master Plan, 2007 - 2008 Driehaus Best Form-Based Code Award winner. See Chapter 4 for form-based code and regulating plan
- Central Petaluma, CA Specific Plan - See Appendix A: Petaluma Smart Rail Station Area: TOD Master Plan, 07/01/2013
- Contra Costa County, CA The New Pleasant Hill BART Station Property Code, Regulating Plan, and Architectural Standards
- Lee County FL Land Development Code Ch. 32 - Compact Communities - Compact walkable neighborhoods and mixed use centers with clear edges. Incorporates transfer of development credit program. 2011 Driehaus Best Form-Based Code Award winner
- Post Falls, ID - Small city within Spokane commute-shed
- City of Post Falls Smart Code - Mandatory for areas annexed after adoption of smart code, and owners of land between ½ block and 30 acres in size may petition for smart zoning application. Also provides for infill neighborhood regulating plans where smart code will apply
- Post Falls City Code - Click on Title 18A - Smart Code Zoning chapters, or click on Tile 18 - Zoning chapters that apply to most existing areas
- Form-Based Codes Institute Form-Based Codes Search - Extensive annotated lists of codes, and ability to search examples for various characteristics. See for instance, the Miami 21 Form-Based Code, described as "a national groundbreaking model" because the FBC completely replaced the existing zoning code
- Form-Based Codes? You're not alone, Placemakers.com - Code Study tracked 480 form-based codes as of May 2013, and offers a list noting some key elements of each
Designing Grid Street Networks and Narrow Residential Streets
- Variations on the Grid, Washington Department of Transportation - Includes links to related pages such as Complete Streets. Some community design assistance may be available
- Lesson 6: Traditional Neighborhood Design, Federal Highway Administration University Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, 07/2006 (Scroll to Sec. 6.3)
- Florida Department of Transportation Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways. See Ch. 19 - Traditional Neighborhood Development - Commonly referred to as Florida Greenbook, 2011 and draft 2013 versions - Florida's regulatory street design standards with well-done chapter (19) on TND standards
- Traditional Neighborhood Handbook, Florida Department of Transportation, 2011 - Supplements Ch. 19 of the FL Greenbook, above. Clearly explains the big picture of TND concepts and also the differences between conventional and TND street design.
- Emergency Response and Traditional Neighborhood Street Design: Case Studies, Local Government Commission - Includes High Point development in Seattle
- Emergency Response and Street Design Initiative - Street Design, the International Fire Code, 2012 and Beyond, Carl D. Wren, CNU Report, Congress for the New Urbanism, 01/08/2011 - A well-connected networks of traditional street grids is essential to good urbanism, shortens emergency response times, and improves overall community life safety
- Neighborhood Street Design Guidelines, An Oregon Guide for Reducing Street Widths, Oregon Transportation and Growth Management, 2000
- Travel Behavior in Neo-Traditional Neighborhood Development: A Case Study in the U.S.A., by Assad. J. Khattak and Daniel Rodriguez, Transportation Research Part A 39 (2005) 481-500 - Neo-traditional neighborhood households substitute alternative modes for driving trips