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Map2009 Brevity And Clarity In Your Zoning Ordinance
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Michigan Association of Planning Annual Conference (2009) presentation on the top ten ways to add brevity and clarity to your local zoning ordinance. By Rodney C. Nanney, AICP - Principal Planner and ...

Michigan Association of Planning Annual Conference (2009) presentation on the top ten ways to add brevity and clarity to your local zoning ordinance. By Rodney C. Nanney, AICP - Principal Planner and Zoning Guru for Building Place Consultants (http://www.buildingplace.net).

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Map2009 Brevity And Clarity In Your Zoning Ordinance Presentation Transcript

  • 1. What’s in Your Zoning Ordinance? Ten ways to apply the principles of brevity and clarity to local zoning 2009 Annual Conference Michigan Association of Planning October 2, 2009 Rodney C. Nanney, AICP Building Place Consultants http://www.buildingplace.net
  • 2. Agenda
    • Introduction and Welcome
    • Tricks of the zoning ordinance trade that help make smart planning consultants look good
    • Questions
    • Wrap Up
      • Presentation materials will be online Monday at http://www.buildingplace.net
  • 3. Rodney C. Nanney, AICP
    • Professional Planner and Planning Consultant
      • “ Zoning Guru”
    • Writer
    • Public speaker
    • Focus:
      • To translate planner-speak, lawyerese, and zoning jargon into plain language
    • For more, visit http://www.buildingplace.net
  • 4. Zoning as a Rocket Science?
  • 5. The Rocket Science Technical Manual Model of Zoning Ordinance Formatting
    • Times New Roman - not Web friendly
    • eight point font
    • no graphics
    • list & outline layout
    • few subject headings & titles
  • 6. Rocket Science Technical Manual Model of Zoning Terminology “ Farm” 160+ words for:
  • 7. Ten ways to apply the principles of brevity and clarity to local zoning
    • Read the ordinance
    • Eliminate unnecessary words and phrases
    • Touch up the definitions
    • Add subject headings and titles
    • Consolidate subject areas into a single section
    • Use a “land use table” format
    • Organize regulations into tables
    • Clarify processes with flowcharts
    • Add illustrations
    • Compare your zoning ordinance to your master plan
  • 8. Read Your Zoning Ordinance
    • The Zoning Guru Guarantee:
      • You will be surprised by something you find in your community’s zoning ordinance
      • You may even be appalled by something you find lurking in the dark corners of the document
    • Zoning Ordinances make excellent bedtime reading
      • Read from beginning to end, or
      • Search the document by subject
  • 9. Read Your Zoning Ordinance
    • Take notes in the margins
      • It’s OK, it’s not a school textbook
    • Highlight important or questionable parts
    • Write down a list of questions that come to mind as you read
  • 10. Add subject headings and titles
  • 11. Consolidate subject areas into a single section
    • Search your Zoning Ordinance
    • Look for all provisions related to a particular topic
      • Landscaping and screening
      • Signs
      • Outdoor storage
      • Exterior lighting
    • If you have trouble finding the multiple references, it’s time to consolidate!
  • 12. Compare Your Zoning Ordinance to Your Master Plan
    • Section 501(4) of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act:
    • “ A site plan shall be approved if it…is in compliance with the conditions imposed under:
      • The zoning ordinance,
      • Other local unit of government planning documents ,
      • Other applicable ordinances, and
      • State and federal statutes.”
    • In other words, “Your Master Plan has Teeth!”
  • 13. Read Your Master Plan
    • Questions to ask yourself as you read:
    • Is your Zoning Ordinance working for or against your Master Plan?
      • priorities
      • recommendations
      • goals
      • policies
    • Does your Master Plan provide a strong foundation for your Zoning Ordinance?
  • 14. Where in the World is our Master Plan?
    • Call out the search dogs!
    • Blow the dust off!
    • Dig out the microfilm reader!
    • It must be around here somewhere!
  • 15. Compare Your Zoning Ordinance to Your Master Plan
    • Section 203(1) of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act:
    • “ The zoning ordinance shall be based upon a plan….”
    • If provisions of your Zoning Ordinance conflict with your community’s Master Plan goals, objectives, or policies,
    • Then there is no better time to begin updating one or both of these important documents!
  • 16. Organize Regulations into Tables
    • Lists by district
    • Paper intensive
    • Repetitive
    • Hard to compare zoning districts
  • 17. Dimensional Standards Table
  • 18. Anatomy of a Dimensional Standards Table
  • 19. Anatomy of a Dimensional Standards Table
  • 20. Anatomy of a Dimensional Standards Table
  • 21. Anatomy of a Dimensional Standards Table
  • 22. DST Example: Many Zoning Districts
  • 23. Any numbers or lists can be put into a table format
    • This….
  • 24. Any numbers or lists can be put into a table format
    • …can become this:
  • 25. Add Illustrations
    • Picture = 1,000 words
    • Vilican-Lehman Associates created most widely used/copied zoning illustrations in Michigan 30+ years ago
    • If your Zoning Ordinance has no illustrations, or they look like these, it is time for a change:
  • 26. Add Illustrations
    • Zoning Terms:
    • Lot width
    • Lot lines
    • Lot depth
    • Front yard
    • Side yard
    • Rear yard
    • Right-of-way
  • 27. Add Illustrations
  • 28. Clarify processes with flowcharts
    • Typical Zoning Ordinance approval processes include:
      • Site Plan Review
      • Special or Conditional Use Permit Approval
      • Planned Unit Developments
      • Rezoning
  • 29. Clarify processes with flowcharts
    • not Web friendly
    • small font
    • list & outline layout
    • Difficult to follow
  • 30. Clarify processes with flowcharts
  • 31. Eliminate unnecessary words and phrases
    • As you read your Zoning Ordinance, consider:
    • Can the regulation be stated in fewer words?
    • Does the text clearly reflect the intent of the ordinance?
      • Too often, the purpose is lost in multiple clauses and phrases, exceptions and double negatives.
  • 32. Eliminate unnecessary words and phrases
    • Eradicate legalisms like “herewith,” “therewith,” “herein,” “hereby,” “heretofore,” “thereof,” and “theretofore” wherever they are found to be hiding!
    • Eliminate filler or vague phrases like “in furtherance of,” “deemed to be,” “in order to,” and “to the maximum extent feasible.”
    • Break up paragraph-long sentences into short declarative sentences
      • Watch for the semi-colons!
  • 33. Touch up the definitions
    • Add new land use definitions
    • Replace outdated terms like “mobile home”
    • Word search for unused terms
    • Expect to have 150 - 250 defined terms
  • 34. Use a “land use table” format
    • The “heart” of the ordinance
    • Zoning Districts
    • Permitted Land Uses
  • 35. Land Use Table
  • 36. Keys to a Successful Land Use Table
    • Organize land uses into groups for readability and convenience
      • Rural Uses
      • Residential Uses
      • Office, Service, and Community Uses
      • Commercial Uses
      • Industrial, Research, and Laboratory Uses
      • Other Uses
    • Delete the old zoning district text when you adopt the Land Use Table format
  • 37. Zoning Districts vs. “Use Groups”
    • “ Use Groups” are only an organizational tool
    • Easier to find specific land uses in the Land Use Table
    • A land use in a particular “Use Group” may be listed in multiple zoning districts
      • Ex. Churches, office buildings, retail sales
  • 38. Keys to a Successful Land Use Table
    • “ Other Uses ”
      • These are uses that, because of unusual character, intensity or nuisance factors, do not fit well into the preceding use groups
      • Examples:
        • Adult Entertainment/Sexually-Oriented Businesses
        • Sanitary Landfill
        • Airport
        • Concrete and Asphalt Plants
        • Composting Centers or Recycling Facilities
  • 39. Keys to a Successful Land Use Table P = Principal Use (or “ Principal Permitted Use”) a use permitted “by right” – may require site plan approval C = Conditional Use (or “ S = Special Use”) a use that may be permitted only after a public hearing
  • 40. Use a “land use table” format
  • 41. Use a “land use table” format
  • 42. Use a “land use table” format
  • 43. Land Use Table - Multiple Districts
  • 44. Land Use Table - Rural Township
  • 45. RECAP: Ten ways to apply brevity and clarity to zoning
    • Read the ordinance
    • Compare your zoning ordinance to your master plan
    • Eliminate unnecessary words and phrases
    • Add subject headings and titles
    • Consolidate subject areas into a single section
    • Organize regulations into tables
    • Use a “land use table” format
    • Touch up the definitions
    • Clarify processes with flowcharts
    • Add illustrations
  • 46. Four More Warning Signs that your Zoning Ordinance Needs Brevity and Clarity
    • Zoning Ordinance adopted more than five years ago
      • … or you are on Amendment Supplement #23
    • The ZBA has a full agenda each month
    • High or rapidly rising legal costs for zoning and land development issues
      • Planning commissioners have to ask for legal opinions to understand the ordinance
    • The only “good developments” are PUDs
  • 47. Get the Right Sort of Professional Help
    • Hire the right sort of community planner to help you modernize your zoning ordinance
    • You wouldn’t hire a corporate finance attorney to defend you in a criminal trial
    • Like lawyers, community planners specialize:
      • Urban design
      • Statistics/demographics
      • GIS/mapping
      • Downtown revitalization
      • Historic preservation
      • Zoning and land use planning
      • Public participation/visioning
      • Site planning and land development
  • 48. Questions?