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Madisonville to revisit zoning with "Form-Based Code"

posted Feb 6, 2012, 9:35 AM by Madisonville CommCouncil   [ updated Feb 6, 2012, 9:35 AM ]
This April, 2012, Cincinnati will begin the community visioning process ―a city-wide “charrette” from  April 20th-24th ― to begin using  this innovative new tool for revitalizing neighborhoods and streamlining the development process. It is an open process ― everyone is invited to participate. The result will be a template that provides the basis for a neighborhood specific  form-based code.
 
Four neighborhood-specific charrettes are scheduled for fall 2012.
 
The charrette  will build on the work over the last two years by expert consultants. Opticos Design has analyzed  barriers in our existing code, best practices from around the country, compiled an analysis of several Cincinnati neighborhoods, and held several training sessions for neighborhoods and developers. Read more about the city’s form-based codes study and review the Opticos reports here.
 
One critical aspect of form-based codes is the relationship of buildings to the street. Rick Hall and Associates is currently developing new street standards for the city as part of Plan Cincinnati, the city’s first comprehensive plan in 30 years.
 
This summer and fall, once the citywide charrette is complete, the city will bring forward text amendments to replace the current zoning code for Planning Commission and City Council approval, and as mentioned previously, four lead neighborhoods will organize neighborhood-level charrettes to develop neighborhood-specific codes.
 
A little background:
Form-based codes have been described as the ‘DNA of livable communities,’ creating healthy, vibrant neighborhoods and business districts that are walkable and bicycle- and transit-friendly.
 
Form-based codes foster predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. They are regulations, not mere guidelines, adopted into city or county law. Form-based codes offer a powerful alternative to conventional zoning.
 
Hundreds of cities across the country, including Miami and Denver, have adopted form-based codes. Placemakers has compiled an excellent list of resources, including a study of initiatives around the country, available here.
 
Since 2008, I’ve been working with neighborhoods around the city to make this powerful alternative to conventional zoning available to our Cincinnati neighborhoods.   As part of that work, we’ve made four trips to Nashville to learn about their experience over the last ten years and see on-the ground results.
 
Under the direction of Metro  Planning Executive Director Rick Bernhardt, Nashville has replaced it’s conventional zoning with a ‘Community Character’ approach that is based on the’ look and feel of neighborhoods, centers, corridors and open spaces.’
 
The result? A 75 percent increase in taxable value in the districts where the approach was used over five years (2003-2008), compared to a 28 percent increase in the county over the same time period.
 
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