Drafting and Amending Ordinances

Presentation given by Gary Cornell, AICP of Jordan, Jones & Goulding Inc.
during the Summer 2008 GAZA conference.

Why update a Zoning Ordinance?

  • New Comprehensive Plan
  • Changing development trends
  • Chainging state/federal regulations
  • Local updates to Land Use Map(s)
  • Legal challenges
  • Many piecemeal amendments
  • Awkward document formate
  • Weak/unenforceable standards
  • Outdated/conflicting terminology and standards
  • Wordy/bureaucratic language

Examples of Text Issues

  • Vagueness – “landscaping shall be sufficient to enhance the overall site appearance”
  • Archaic terms – “trailers”, “drive-in theater”
  • Lack of enforceability – “may be required”
  • Wordiness – “any”, “all”, “each”, “every”

Innovative Land Use Controls

  • Unified Development Ordinance: consolidates multiple development ordinances into a coordinated format (can include Zoning, Use standards, Subdivision development standards, Environmental protection, Public improvements standards, Signs, Buffers and Landscaping)
  • Streamlining and Web-based Applications: correct out-of-date and confusing aspects of current codes and procedures for customers/developers, improve efficiency of code administration. Best Practice tools include an administrative manual, flow charts and checklists, customer newsletter, interagency plan review committee, and web-based tools for codes and permits.
  • Character Area Districts: areas that have visual or functional character, a unique or unusual sense of identity, based on the Future Development Map and Comprehensive Plan.
  • Mixed-Use Development: combination of complementary uses, designed to be walkable and pedestrian-oriented.
  • Traditional Neighborhoods: mixture of housing types, sizes, and prices. Walkable density, low-intensity mixed-use, grid street patterns, narrow streets and alleys, on-street parking, formal open spaces, sidewalk and streetscape.
  • Overlay Zoning Districts: underlying zoning of an area remains, provides extra design standards or other regulations based on site-specific goals (historic preservation, economic development, natural resources, gateway corridor)
  • Performance-based Land Use Controls: consider setback vs. noise levels, lot size vs. density, environmental impact, public facility access/impact, design/compatibility
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