Best practices in form based coding

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Date

2008-08

Authors

Grantham, Scott Wesley

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Abstract

This report is an exploration of theoretical and applied aspects of form-based coding. First, it presents an in-depth look at conventional zoning, conditions surrounding its origins around the turn of the twentieth century, the system of legal precedents that supports zoning, the evolution of the zoning “toolkit”, and the scope of zoning policies which are prevalent today. Second, form-based codes are defined and differentiated from conventional codes as well as design guidelines. The organizing principles on which FBCs are based are explained and the components of FBCs are described. Issues and controversy surrounding FBCs are discussed. Third, diverse case studies from around the country are carried out in order to examine how form-based codes are developed and applied in various real-world contexts. Case studies are presented in two different tiers, primary and secondary. Primary case studies involve in-depth research, whereas secondary case studies receive a brief, overview-style treatment. Primary case studies are: St. Lucie County, Florida and Sarasota County, Florida. Secondary case studies are: Leander, Texas; Peoria, Illinois; Montgomery, Alabama; Arlington County, Virginia; Hercules, California; and Miami, Florida. Fourth, conclusions are drawn from the research and point towards best practices in form-based coding. The report concludes that form-based codes are not a cure-all, should be developed in the context of a visioning process, and should strike a balance in terms of regulation. Additionally, market factors play a major role. The high cost of coding is a major concern. Furthermore, code writers should be prepared to educate the public as part of their profession.

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