Planning Agency Asks Change To Form-Based Zoning

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

Regional Planning Agency senior planner Sarah Weeks Robbins asked  the Chattanooga City Council Tuesday afternoon  to consider switching from zoning codes to form-based codes in various parts of the city.

Ms. Robbins described form-based codes, "Rather than one size fits all, they are geared to what the community wants the character of that place to be."

Rather than focusing on how land is used, form-based codes to the appearance and atmosphere that buildings in an area create.

She said that form-based codes "make it easy to create 'urban,' mixed-use places the community desires."

She also told the council that form-based codes would not only address the form of the building, but also the street in front of it.

For developers, she said these codes feature many images and diagrams, making it easy to see what type of structures are needed.

Ms. Robbins said, "They're very clear and concise and much easier to follow than zoning ordinances."

She said Mayor Andy Berke challenged the RPA to get the project done within a year, with a September start date.

Ms. Robbins said the starting areas would be the north shore area, the riverfront, the city center, southside, and the M.L.K. neighborhood. Later, she said it would hopefully expand to St. Elmo.

Currently, the city of Knoxville uses form-based codes in their South Waterfront district.

However, the city council had several concerns. One councilman pointed out that if Mayor Berke decided not to run again, this undertaking could be left unfinished if the new mayor did not see it as a priority.

Another councilman said, "People need to see and feel that it's not all going to go downtown."



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