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- Outdated/conflicting terminology and standards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- Streamlining and Web-based Applications: correct out-of-date and confusing aspects of current codes and procedures for customers/developers, improve efficiency of code administration.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