Erlanger signs zoning district contract

In August 2012, the City of Erlanger appointed a steering committee comprised of stakeholders to implement new form-based zoning regulations along Commonwealth Avenue on the east side of I-71/75. The city recognizes the potential for redevelopment in the project area and it is the desire of the city council to establish a vision for future development by examining and utilizing input from property owners, stakeholders, and general public in an effort to better market the area for development proposals which will better utilize the land to its highest and best use. The project has been given the name “Commonwealth Station”.

Form-based zoning regulations differ from conventional zoning in a number of ways. Form-based codes foster predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. They are regulations, not mere guidelines, adopted into city or county law. Form-based codes offer a powerful alternative to conventional zoning.

Form-based zoning Conventional zoning

Create mixed-use districts
Allow a variety of permitted uses
Make it possible to walk to parks, shops, schools
Reduces land consumption
Streets designed for pedestrians
Increases efficiency of transit
Variety of housing options
Increase and regulate density
Defaults to walkable urbanism
Dispersed uses with a few distinct centers
Spatial separation of key daily activities
Excessive car travel between uses
Excessive land consumption
Streets designed for cars rather than people
No convenient, cost effective transit
Limited choice in housing supply
Fear of density
Default to suburban, auto-dependent development

Form-based codes address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. The regulations and standards in form-based codes are presented in both words and clearly drawn diagrams and other visuals. They are keyed to a regulating plan that designates the appropriate form and scale (and therefore, character) of development, rather than only distinctions in land-use types.

This approach contrasts with conventional zoning's focus on the micromanagement and segregation of land uses, and the control of development intensity through abstract and uncoordinated parameters (e.g., floor area ratio, dwellings per acre, setbacks, parking ratios, traffic level of service), to the neglect of an integrated built form. Not to be confused with design guidelines or general statements of policy, form-based codes are regulatory, not advisory. They are drafted to implement a community plan. The goal is to try to achieve a community vision based on time-tested forms of urbanism. Ultimately, a form-based code is a tool; the quality of development outcomes depends on the quality and objectives of the community plan that a code implements.

The vision will be determined by a design charrette, a very intense two-day design process that is open to the public. As ideas are generated, drawings, sketches, and computer graphics are generated to visually display potential scenarios. As the charrette continues, the vision becomes more and more refined until a final vision is realized. It will then be up to a steering committee that has been appointed by the City of Erlanger to work with this vision and to craft regulations that will best implement the vision.

The City of Erlanger signed a contract with NKAPC for staff to facilitate the process of developing form-based zoning regulations. Under the contract, the city will be responsible for funding the project, which includes NKAPC staff and resources. This contract represents one of the last contracts where a 75 percent discount for all NKAPC costs is offered.

For more information or to provide comments, please email Andy Videkovich at avidekovich(at)nkapc.org.