Downtown Form Based Code

Downtown Form Based Code


The Form Based Code (FBC) is a method of regulating land use which places more emphasis on community character and the impact development has on the public realm than traditional zoning does.

A guiding principal behind the development of a FBC is that the buildings and physical alteration of land is more long lasting than the initial use found within the building that is constructed, and we should be concerned about community character and appearance.

What does the FBC do?

The FBC attempts to recognize the value of existing buildings in an area, so that the building fabric, as observed from the public right of way, is relatively consistent. It looks to see if buildings on this street are multi-story? Do they rest at the back edge of the sidewalk? Then so should new construction. Are they of brick or masonry construction? Then efforts should be made either to replicate those materials completely, or to use them as decorative accents to assist the new construction in “fitting” with the existing fabric of the community. Are front yards ten feet or less for existing homes? Then so should the new construction be set back a similar distance.

Form based zoning attempts to replicate the organic process by which our existing downtown neighborhoods grew, over time, but with each new element generally trying to fit with those elements that came before it.

The Transect:

The Form Based Code (FBC) uses a transect, which is a planning tool to define a series of zones that transition from sparse rural to the dense urban core.

A major feature of a transect is that it incorporates a variety of residential and commercial spaces into a single neighborhood.

Dover’s FBC project will create transects around the downtown core, and will radiate from there. At this time the intention is to not replace all of Dover’s zoning with FBC, rather it will focus on the most dense areas located in and around the urban core.

Elements of the Form Based Code:

• Regulating Plan: A map of the City designating the locations where different building form standards apply, based on clear community intentions regarding the physical character of the area being coded.

• Public Space Standards. Specifications for the elements within the public realm (e.g., sidewalks, travel lanes, on-street parking, street trees, street furniture, etc.).

• Building Form Standards. Regulations controlling the configuration, features, and functions of buildings that define and shape the public realm.

• Administration. A clearly defined application and project review process.

• Definitions. A glossary to ensure the precise use of technical terms.

Public Participation

In order to develop a Form Based Code, the City is relying heavily on public input and participation. This public participation is being facilitated by Jeff Taylor and Associates, who were retained in July of 2008.

This project began in September 2008, with the consultant and Director of Planning and Community Development, Christopher Parker, walking the downtown and examining the differences inherent in the architecture, landscaping and scope of commercial and residential structures that exist primarily along Central Avenue and Main Street between Summer Street and Chestnut Street.

In October, stakeholders (downtown landowners, citizens and professionals in the development community) were interviewed to start the information gathering process. Additionally, the consultant and staff spent time measuring select buildings downtown to determine certain baseline characteristics.

In November, two Charrettes were held. The Charrettes poroduced concept drawings based upon feedback and guidance. These drawings are available for viewing on the project's Google Group, where visitors can provide additional feedback in the discussion group.

Additionally, the City encourages users to participate in a survey of selected images. Click here to participate in the survey, which will be active in the month of January, 2009.

Goals of the Form Based Code

• Develop a code that is more visual based than text, which will be easier for the public to use and understand.
• Draft a code to achieve a community vision based on time-tested forms of urbanism.
• Position downtown Dover for positive and flexible future development and redevelopment.
• Review and encourage responsible development that reuses established infrastructure.
• Continue downtown’s trend to promote a walkable community.

 Click to download Dover's Central Business District Regulations.

click to download information sheet on Form Based Code