The form-based SmartCode, the most complete open-source transect-based model code to date, regulates the physical dimensions of the built environment first to help shape places of quality, and secondarily determines the mix of compatible uses. More flexible than use-codes, form-based codes aim to accommodate a changing mix of business in one district through by-right development (instead of an uncertain discretionary design review process), though sometimes cities create a hybrid code (such as St. Paul's Traditional Neighborhood Districts) structured around form-based language and including typical use-based language. Cities can make form-based zoning mandatory for central business districts and corridors while offering it as an optional overlay elsewhere.
Inventory tools such as this block typology template allow replication of high-quality city spaces by defining the form-based elements to be favored in rehab and new development. See also guidance for optimal building heights to frame public squares that result in places that are gracious, used, and are human scaled.
Pairing form-based zoning and by-right zoning approval delivers cost, time, walkble urbanism and affordable housing benefits. See also the Lean Urbanism project that devises model codes/ordinances/processes so that building development/entitlement takes less time, reduces the resources required for compliance, and frustrates fewer well-intentioned entrepreneurs, by providing ways to work around onerous financial, bureaucratic, and regulatory processes.
The built environment through which a transportation system traverses can have a substantial effect in how/how much people choose to travel. As a rule of thumb, choices can be influenced by physical changes in the 5 D's -- Density, Design (of streets, buildings, block size), Diversity (of land uses), Destination Accessibility, and Distance-to-Transit.
Use form-based codes (or a hybrid code) in a downtown or historic district.
Use form-based codes (or a hybrid) in at least one corridor; specify build-to lines vs. setbacks; adopt a permissive home-based business ordinance.
In residential and downtown/commercial sections, use a 3 to 6 ratio of building widths to heights (higher for residential, lower for commercial) to best create a sense of place.
Who's doing it
Arden Hills - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
The TCAAP Redevelopment Code includes form-based zoning approaches. One of the goals of the TCAAP Redevelopment Code is to promote and provide a more functional and attractive community through the use of recognized community design principles, and to allow property owners or developers flexibility in land use, while prescribing a higher level of detail in building design and form than in the current standards of the Arden Hills City Code. The TCAAP Redevelopment Code is written to allow a diverse mix of uses on the site, especially within the Town Center and other commercial districts.
Burnsville's Heart of the City District (it's downtown core), uses form-based codes. The HOC District specifies build-to-lines vs. setbacks (see attached PDF). The HOC District standard for building width to height is 25'height to 65' frontage.
Maplewood has a form-based zoning for the Gladstone area that is currently going through the the process of re-development. The city has also incorporated the idea of form based thinking with the recent decision to implement their "Living Streets" program in their future developments.
The Mixed Use Districts (MU-Regional, MU-Commercial, MU-Neighborhood) are designed as hybrids of traditional zoning and form-based codes. The requirements regarding form, massing, building location on the site, build-to-lines, building design and materials, etc. are consistent with the principles of form-based codes. However, the Code does not rely on illustrative diagrams and streetscape requirements that are essential elements in a form-based code. The Mixed Use Districts are located along significant commercial corridors: Penn Ave. and 66th St.; north of I-494; and Hwy 77 (Cedar Ave).