Zoning Models Could Help Navigate Downtown Form-Based Code, Council Says, Developers Says | News

Norman leaders are considering adopting a development and zoning tool that could speed up the issuance of permits and reduce the cost of infill projects.

Model zoning allows designs to be pre-approved in the municipal zoning code for a parcel, which means developers only need to choose a design and obtain a building permit before starting construction. Norman’s business and community affairs committee heard details of the concept at a meeting on Thursday.

Fayetteville town planner Matthew Petty, who founded planning group Infill, and Matt Hoffman, a Fayetteville-based architect and urban designer, gave a presentation to the Norman committee on Thursday on how pre-approved building programs that use model zoning work in other cities. An in-person study session on model zoning in Norman is scheduled for February 1.

Petty said that pattern zoning is a way to change and fill an area without taking away the qualities that make it familiar. Petty said he and Hoffman believe progressive development – rather than large-scale development – is how healthy communities thrive.

“We can’t really put all of our eggs in a neighborhood or community’s large-scale development basket, and it’s hard to do development that way because everyone has to be a home run.” Petty said. “If these projects fail, they end up depressing many more areas, blocks and streets than with a simple project like a duplex, quad or even a single family home.”

In Bryan, Texas, Petty said they found they could increase neighborhood density from three units per acre to over 15 using pattern zoning.

Obtaining a set of permits in one exam means developers don’t have to hire the best architect, civil engineer, and legal team in land use planning, which creates value in both in terms of assets and time efficiency, Petty said.

Petty said that in Bryan, a college town with a budget similar to Norman’s, their goal was an alternative to the stealth dorm activity. The city’s professional candidates favored the building without an elevator, which requires local architects to stamp the plans. Hobbyist applicants preferred the cottage, flexhouse, and apartment house options.

With an online catalog of pre-approved buildings, selections can be made from hundreds of buildings. The catalogs are hosted on a digital platform with city branding.

Applicants can enter an address in the search bar and find details of anything that has been pre-approved for a particular package.

“A candidate must be able to see the cross-reference details and must be able to make a selection, and every time they make a selection, they must be able to obtain a set of assets, including architectural and design details that they are contracting.” to get an actual offer, or to a bank to get an actual appraisal, to get a list of actual conditions, or they can present to a real estate agent or web designer to get a marketing package, ”said Petty.

Norman architect David Boeck said concepts like pattern zoning are helpful because they streamline design and act as an incentive for development. Boeck said he hopes local professional architects will be included in the process if Norman passes pattern zoning because they need to be part of the conversation.

Hoffman said they were open to including local architects in their catalog-based system.

Ward 4 Lee Hall said the city adopted an administrative deadline for new construction in the code based on the downtown form. Hall said she was intrigued by the idea of ​​applying pattern zoning to the core, as smaller developers try to find solutions for residential corners in code.

Richard McKown, a Norman-based developer and community designer, said what’s interesting about zoning models is the possibilities for code updates, which McKown says is hard to interpret.

“You have a builder who wants to build some sort of multi-family structure, and he tells the designer what he wants it to look like, and the designer tries to read a list of instructions, and it’s like, ‘what? does all of this really mean? ‘ ”McKown said.

McKown sees pattern zoning as a concept that facilitates a path to arrive at a plan that is concrete and tangible.

“If someone comes and says ‘I want to build a building, but I don’t want one of these plans,’ at least now he would have [some] examples, ”McKown said. “If we can make it easier for someone to take some of these dilapidated structures and replace them with something that makes economic sense and that is beautiful, it will be exciting to see the next decade of what Norman could become. “

Hall said increasing density in desirable neighborhoods is tricky, and Norman faces the challenge of getting a single-family type of housing in the downtown area; the same type of house has been built multiple times, she said.

“I really see this as a way to break that openness and at the same time allow our little developers to not have to navigate through this complex, form-based code,” Hall said.

About Elisa C. Peachey

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