City Hosts Public Meetings on Form-Based Codes

As part of the City of U.P.’s ongoing efforts to implement a Regional Growth Center (RGC) Subarea Plan, the public is invited to attend a series of meetings next week to gain a better understanding of proposed zoning changes in a 481-acre area of existing commercial and multi-family uses along Bridgeport Way, 27th and Mildred streets. 

Planners are recommending that the City employ Form-Based Codes (FBC) for the area. Unlike conventional zoning regulations, which separates uses into zones of similar and compatible uses (light industrial, residential, commercial, etc.), FBCs rely on the scale, appearance, placement and connection of buildings to the street. This leads to streetscapes that enhance the buildings’ designs to create interesting pedestrian-friendly, walkable neighborhoods.

The City’s Director of Planning and Development Services David Swindale says it is possible the final zoning regulations for the RGC may be a hybrid of the City’s existing zoning and an FBC. “Conventional zoning results in less predictability as to what a community will look like since buildings are constructed for specific uses over time,” he said. “But we recognize the need to still be mindful of uses that are incompatible with each other, such as heavy manufacturing and residential uses.”   

Several members of a consulting team that has been working with the City to develop appropriate zoning for the RGC will be leading a series of public meetings/open houses to explain the process. Tom Beckwith of Beckwith Consulting Group and Kaizer Rangwala of Rangwala and Associates will introduce the concept of FBC during a design charette on March 12 at 6 p.m. in City Hall. Based on input from that session, as well as meetings with staff, property owners and others, the consultants will hold additional public meetings on March 13 and 14 to share what they learned and to present conceptual plans on how Form-Based Code would look in the RGC.

Swindale says that as the City of U.P. prepares for its 25th anniversary, the development of a Form-Based Code will provide a vision for the City for its next 25 years. “Changes to the code are expected to result in a dramatic transformation to the look and feel of this area of the city over time,” Swindale said. “We really hope residents, business owners, service providers and other interest groups will participate in these public events. We need their participation in this process for it to succeed.”

For more information on Form-Based Codes, visit the FBC Institute, the Congress for New Urbanism and the Local Government Commission.