Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Allentown Modernizes Codes

The City of Allentown is in the process of modernizing their zoning and code ordinances. I am a huge fan of what they have done.

To summarize (and I'll do my best, because it is a pretty extensive document), the city is attempting to update zoning and codes because the ordinances were outdated and didn't reflect modern urban planning efforts. They had a series of community meetings to get public feedback and ensure that whatever changes they made were reflective of the community will. They also had a relatively extensive and diverse task force oversee the process. Here are some of the changes:
  • The creation of three new special overlay districts that allow for more customized and practical zoning, including regulations on setbacks, parking and design guidelines.
  • A series of use changes that have to deal with a variety of areas, including limiting uses within residential zones, encouragement of mixed use, requirements related to street trees, reduction of parking requirements in certain situations, etc.
  • Very importantly for Allentown, this ordinance further limits the conversion of dwelling unites into apartments in most residential zones.
  • Zoning map changes to be more reflective of community will.
I do believe that every community should reexamine their zoning and codes on a relatively regular basis. Like parking requirements, this is an often forgotten area that is vitally important to the quality of life and business recruitment of any community.

1 comment:

gsbrace said...

of course, it would probably be more effective to establish form-based zoning across the city rather than a complex system of regulations. This is a modest improvement, but only a start.