|land-use planning and zoning|
|Much of the
hard work for arresting sprawl and revitalizing cities can only be done
at the local level. Even though local development is beholden to
many national and global forces, individual cities and towns retain a great
deal of sovereignty in deciding how they want to guide future growth. Two
legal vehicles for this control include: comprehensive plans and zoning
· Lincoln, Nebraska. The cornerstone of Lincoln's growth management program is the comprehensive plan, which outlines planning goals, establishes growth patterns, and provides a policy framework for implementation tools such as zoning, capital and transportation improvement programs, design standards, and protection of the natural environment. Lincoln also maintains control over future development areas because of state and local legislation: the state authorized the city to maintain zoning powers over development in the area three miles beyond city limits; state laws prohibit incorporation of municipalities within five miles of the city limits without city consent and provide a relatively easy annexation procedure; and, through an intergovernmental agreement, many city and county functions are combined, including the departments of planning, health, employment, and human services. Also, the city has an active citizenry that has included re-thinking of the downtown's future development and meetings to determine community goals and objectives.
Cluster zoning: Allows groups of dwellings on small lots on one part of the site to preserve open space and/or natural features or on the remainder of the site. Minimum lot and yard sizes for the clustered development are reduced.
· Florida: The Hammocks, a residential development, are all single-family housing that have been built under cluster zoning. This has meant that green spaces could be incorporated into neighborhoods and a splendid greenway system could be maintained between the neighborhoods and lakes. The Hammocks achieves an average net residential density of 11.5 units per acre, twice its gross density.
Overlay zoning: A zoning district, applied over one or more other districts, that contains additional provisions for special features or conditions, such as historic buildings, wetlands, steep slopes, and downtown residential uses.
· Arlington, Virginia: The Arlington General Land Use Plan was revised in the 1980s in order to direct high-density development toward Metro (subway) corridors. The potential for increased land value and housing demand along those corridors. The potential for increased land value and housing demand along those corridors posed the threat of displacement for long-time residents. Committed to the provision of affordable housing for local residents, the county created an affordable housing overlay district. Under this provision of the plan, in order to have a site rezoned for redevelopment at high densities, developers were required to preserve housing that traditionally had been considered "affordable" or to replace it with new affordable housing in comparable locations. The county agreed to subsidize these efforts given strong evidence that the developers could not afford to finance the entire replacement. Developers were able to obtain additional financing through county loans, federal low-income housing tax credits, and tax exempt bond issues
Incentive zoning: Zoning provisions that encourage but do not require developers to provide certain amenities or qualities in their projects in returned for identified benefits, such as increased density or rapid processing of applications. Incentives are often used in downtown areas to gain open space, special building features, or public art in connection with approved developments.
· Bethesda, Maryland: In the business
center in Bethesda's business center, a combination of zoning density incentive
with a ceiling on potential development imposed by the area plan generated
intensive developer interest in projects around the Bethesda Metrorail
station. County planners announced that projects offering a high quality
of construction and significant public amenities would be first in line
for approval. Eight major office complexes and a hotel were constructed
through the optional zoning procedure that became known as the "beauty
contest." In the competition, developers offered open spaces, public
art, and other community oriented facilities to satisfy the pedestrian-oriented
design criteria of the Bethesda plan. In addition, the Bethesda Urban
District raised funds to redesign and redevelop the downtown streetscape.
The downside of incentive zoning programs is that they depend on real estate
market activity and pricing levels to produce results.
· Englewood, Colorado: In the struggling
inner-ring suburb of Englewood, Colorado, New Urbanist principles are guiding
the redevelopment of Cinderella City, one of the Denver region's first
postwar suburban shopping centers and an abandoned eyesore for years. Built
around a new light rail station, the mixed-use development will have shopping,
compact residential areas and transit all within easy walking distance.