SARASOTA -- Urban communities are increasingly moving toward form based codes, a planning tool that uses the physical form of building structures, rather than the separation of land uses, as the guiding principal in determining how growth will best occur. The City of Bradenton recently implemented form-based codes and Sarasota is in the process of designing them as well. The October 14 CONA meeting, will feature a free presentation to help educate citizens on the process and what it means to them.
Planning is an important part of every community. As citizens, we often know what we like, even if we don’t know the difference between zoning and land use designations in the comprehensive plan and fail to speak the professional language well enough to be well understood at government meetings and hearings. Daunting as it may seem at the moment, form-based codes should provide regulations that are easier to understand and apply, so that we all might use the same terms, while sharing the same expectations.
Conventional zoning determines the uses that are permitted in areas and separates them from one another. However, it often fails to provide a predictable built environment or what the community will look like, and we may be quite unhappy with the results.
Form-based codes aim to provide walkable streetscapes and pleasing public spaces by matching the physical forms that are constructed to the vision of the community or area. Form-based codes address the relationship between the form and mass of adjacent buildings as well as between the scale and types of streets and blocks.
Districts and transects assigned to areas, as the community set its vision of how it will redevelop or grow over time, will be the tools applied in form-based codes that will become regulations and standards that are presented in well-defined words and clearly drawn graphics.
Needless to say, the vision created by our community will inform the planners every step of the way to assist with proper coding. As that community vision or plan is developed, neighborhood participation is essential for its success.
Over the next three years, the form-based code for Sarasota will be created with the guidance of Karin Murphy and Andrew Georgiadis, the staff of the new Urban Design Studio located in the Federal Building. This is the same team who recently developed the new form-based codes for Bradenton. They will be presenting details about the code development and answering questions as they invite you to participate in the city process. Because sustainable cities are crucial to sustainable counties, the work of the city design team will include intergovernmental coordination so the city and county may work together to achieve a cohesive and livable region. Participation in this city project can be an initial learning laboratory for all—gaining the skills necessary to develop such codes for their own area and municipality when adoption of their form-based codes occurs.
Take the first step in learning how to use form-based codes at the Monday, October 14 meeting of the Sarasota Council of Neighborhood Associations, CONA, which begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Sarasota Garden Club, 1131 Boulevard of the Arts. It is at the intersection of Tamiami Trail (south of the Municipal Auditorium). Parking and the entrance are reached from Van Wezel Way. Arrive a half hour early to socialize before the meeting.
CONA meetings are free and open to the public as well as the members of the seventy-two associations and the individual members the organization represents. More information about CONA is available at www.conasarasota.org.