Monday, February 18, 2013
Last week I wrote a blog post stating two hypotheses for why there are so few form-based code cases. Briefly, my hypotheses were that form-based codes are still largely optional in jurisdictions where they would be controversial; or, in the alternative, they are essentially acting as a form of pre-project approval for large developments, and thus have implicit developer approval.
I received several great comments from all over the country, both from professors and practicing attorneys, each largely confirming my hypotheses. That was re-assuring! I wanted, in particular, to acknowledge the helpful comments of Nick Morantz, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT's planning school, who has studied the issue and wrote the following nice summary to me:
Based on my observations, form based codes seem to fall into four broad categories: (1) advisory documents; (2) components of design guidelines for expedited permitting review; (3) components of CC&Rs for homeowners associations; and (4) binding public law. Categories 1 and 2 correspond to your hypotheses. Category 4 seems vanishingly small.
Mr. Morantz, who has studied form-based codes in depth, recommended Blaesser's Discretionary Land Use Controls as the best compilation of form-based code cases. He has also written an interesting book chapter I’d recommend, “The Business of Codes: Urban Design Regulation in an Entrepreneurial Society,” along with MIT planning professor and planning department head Eran Ben-Joseph in the book Urban Design in the Real Estate Development Process.
Thanks to Mr. Morantz, and all the others, who wrote in on this interesting topic.