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To FBC or Not to FBC: That is the Question
 

To FBC or Not to FBC: That is the Question

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    To FBC or Not to FBC: That is the Question To FBC or Not to FBC: That is the Question Presentation Transcript

    • To FBC or Not to FBC: That is the Question Ralph Willmer, FAICP – Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. Robert Ballou, AICP - Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. Matthew Lawlor, CNU-A – Robinson & Cole LLP
    • Presentation Outline
      • Form-Based Code and Design Guidelines Basics
      • Regional and National Case Studies
      • Overarching Issues and Concerns
      • Legal Considerations
      • Which Tool is Appropriate for My City/Town?
      • Questions and Discussion
    • Form-Based Codes
      • How are they different?
      • One Definition . . . According to the Form-Based Codes Institute:
      • 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. These codes are adopted into city or county law as regulations, not mere guidelines. Form-based codes are an alternative to conventional zoning.
      • www.formbasedcodes.org
    • Conventional vs. Form-Based Approaches From Parolek, et al., Form Based Codes (Wiley 2007)
      • Use segregation, auto orientation
      • Organized by use
      • Use is primary
      • Reactive to individual development proposals
      • Generally proscriptive
      • Create buildings on lots
      • Mixed-use, walkable, compact
      • Organized by spatial hierarchy
      • Physical form is primary
      • Proactive community visioning
      • Generally prescriptive
      • Create places across multiple parcels
    • Conventional Zoning vs. FBC Conventional Zoning Use Form Management Form-Based Codes Use Form Management Credit: Ferrell Madden Lewis, LLC
    • Hamilton Canal District, Lowell, MA
      • Approximately 15-acre site
      • Connecting downtown core to commuter rail/bus hub
      • City of Lowell assembled land and designated master developer
      • Master developer undertook visioning
      • City and master developer drafted code cooperatively
    • Hamilton Canal District, Lowell, MA Existing Conditions HCD Master Plan Vision
    • Hamilton Canal District, Lowell, MA
    • Hamilton Canal District, Lowell, MA
      • Keys to FBC at Hamilton Canal District
        • Extensive and well-coordinated visioning (both public and private sector actors, with robust public involvement)
        • Well-briefed and knowledgeable city political structure and administration (especially City Manager) and planning staff
        • Developer willing to fund substantial portion of the effort
        • Code carefully calibrated to achieve the vision
        • Separate historic review board (obviated any need for specific architectural design standards)
    • Fairfax Boulevard
    • Fairfax Boulevard
    • Fairfax Boulevard
    • Fairfax Boulevard
    • Design Guidelines
      • A set of guidelines regarding the architectural appearance of a building and the parameters to be followed on a site
      • Typically provide guidance and are not mandatory
        • Help to clarify/illustrate design objectives in plans and ordinances
      • Sometimes incorporated into ordinance
      • Written and graphic information that helps to explain and interpret design recommendations
      • Design Review Boards
    • Design Guidelines
      • Difficult to legally enforce, but easier to understand and interpret
      • Ambiguous wording should be avoided – “in harmony”, “appropriate scale”, “desirable transition”, “conflicting architectural styles”, “compatible”, etc.
      • We know it when we see it, but it is important to define terms
      • Typically advisory and not always given much weight
    • Conventional vs. Design Guidelines
      • Use segregation, auto orientation
      • Organized by use
      • Use is primary
      • Reactive to individual development proposals
      • Generally proscriptive
      • Create buildings on lots
      • Supplements zoning
      • Building form and appearance, not use
      • Creates places on lot by lot basis
      • Covers signs, lighting, landscaping, etc.
      • Generally prescriptive
    • Mansfield, CT - Storrs Center Special Design District Sustainability Guidelines
      • Developed by master developer’s architects and sustainability consultants
      • Adopted as guidelines for specific building design approval
      • As part of special development district zoning approach
      • Closely calibrated to master plan
      • Substantial component of guidelines include green building and energy use provisions
      • Viewed as stringent as LEED, but better tailored to site
    • Omaha By Design Urban Design Plan Element Implementation
      • Large retail urban design
        • Wall materials
        • Height , massing, & bulk
        • Signage
        • Entrances, windows and canopies
      • City-wide Design Review Board
        • Includes architect, landscape architect, planner, engineer, citizen (Public – permanent) and real estate interests (Private - 2 years unless extended)
        • Public Section of the Board reviews building and design plans
        • Private Section charged with interpretations of the regulations and guidelines
      • City-wide Urban Design Handbook now promulgated
    • South Burlington, VT City Center Design Guidelines
    • South Burlington, VT City Center Design Guidelines
    • South Burlington, VT City Center Design Guidelines
    • South Burlington, VT City Center Design Guidelines
      • General Description of
      • Sub-District
        • Design Intent
        • Preferred Use
        • Building Siting
        • Height
        • Materials
        • Façade Articulation
        • Ground Floor Uses
        • Upper Floor Uses
        • Roofscape
        • Entry
        • Signage
        • Parking and Services
        • Pedestrian Circulation
        • Open Space and Landscape
    • South Burlington, VT City Center Design Guidelines
    • South Burlington, VT City Center Design Guidelines
      • Use examples where appropriate to illustrate what is desired and what is discouraged
    • FBC Issues and Considerations
      • High level of master planning required for form-based codes
      • Detailed inventory of existing buildings and infrastructure
      • Lengthy visioning process with public and stakeholder input
      • Market analysis
      • Perception that FBC is a relatively “new” and “untested” tool - may be difficult to adopt
    • FBC Issues and Considerations
      • Geographic applicability
        • All or part of municipality
        • Downtown vs. other commercial zones
        • Include residential areas?
      • Municipal fiscal and administrative capacity
        • Professional staff
        • Ability to contract for work to be done
        • Drafting of the ordinance
        • Administration and enforcement of the code
    • FBC Issues and Considerations
      • Legal authorization issue has been well-settled
      • Pay close attention to:
        • Potential for plan-based inverse condemnation (if you lay down too many streets you don’t intend to take)
        • Regulatory schemes outside of zoning (state-mandated multi-family/commercial site plan review, for example)
        • Sticking within the statutory scheme for zoning and building code review and permit issuance (create a new scheme at your own peril)
    • Do You Really Want a Hybrid Code……
      • The answer is YES, if you:
        • Have limited funding and/or time
        • Place greater emphasis on land use rather than form
        • Want a code that is easier to administer due to staff availability or skill
        • Prefer to retain conventional zoning in areas not to be rezoned for form-based zoning
        • Begin FBC on a “pilot project” basis and phase FBC in over time
        • Regulate a small area
    • TOD Project in NY
      • Residential 615 units
      • Retail 60,000 SF
      • Restaurants 200 seats
      • Office 50,000 SF
      • Health Club 30,000 SF
      • Sewage Treatment Plant ±5 acres
      Conceptual Plan
    • TOD Project in NY
      • Small area involved – only 54 acres
      • Initially considered a TOD Overlay District
      • Town then wanted FBC, but little time and money devoted to effort
      • More complex than expected
      • Code written to be more of a hybrid
      • Project still in flux
      Existing Zoning
    • TOD Project in NY Regulating Plan Street Type Standards
    • Or Do You Really Just Want Design Guidelines?
      • The answer is YES if you:
        • Regulate/guide the design of buildings on a parcel basis
        • The area in question is divided into many different “subareas”
        • Want a code that is easier to administer and enforce
        • Lack the political will to permit transforming guidelines into legal standards that must be followed (and therefore can be administered the staff level, out of public view)
        • Think guidelines go well with the special permit process that is so beloved of cities and towns and leave plenty of discretion to decision-makers and the public
        • Don’t have funding/capacity to sufficiently articulate a vision that can be defensibly codified
    • QUESTIONS/DISCUSSION
    • Contact Info
      • Ralph Willmer, FAICP – Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.
        • 617.924.1770 x1102; [email_address]
      • Robert Ballou, AICP – Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.
        • 617.924.1770 x1219; [email_address]
      • Matthew Lawlor, CNU-A – Robinson & Cole LLP
        • 617.557.5948; [email_address]