Land Use 101

Smart Growth \ˈsmɑrt ˈgroʊθ\

Definition: An urban planning theory that advocates concentrating growth in urban and suburban centers that already have access to existing infrastructure such as roads, transit, water, sewer, schools and community amenities.

Origin: Used in North America, this concept was developed in the early 1970s and stems from concern over the rising municipal costs of building new infrastructure and an increased awareness about environmental quality and public health.

Related Terms: Smarter Growth, Walkable, Bicycle Friendly, Mixed-Use, Transit-Oriented, Sense of Place


New Urbanism\ˈnuː ˈərbəˌnɪzəm\

Definition: An urban design movement that promotes walkable neighborhoods, a range of building and employment types, context-appropriate architecture, and design principles reminiscent of pre-WWII communities. New Urbanists believe their strategies can reduce traffic congestion, increase the supply of affordable housing and reduce urban sprawl.

Origin: In 1991, the nonprofit organization the Local Government Commission invited architects from around the country to develop a set of community principles for land use planning. These principles, called the Ahwahnee Principles, became the principles of New Urbanism. Those same architects founded the Congress for New Urbanism in 1993.

Related Terms: Neotraditionalism, Traditional Neighborhood Development, Transit-oriented Development, Smart Growth, Regionalism


Form-Based Codes \ˈfɔrm ˈbeɪst ˈkoʊd\

Definition: A means of regulating development to achieve a specific urban form. This is a departure from conventional zoning, placing emphasis on physical form and context and less on separation of uses.

Origin: The development of modern form-based codes began when architects and planners, frustrated by their inability to incorporate design elements into conventional zoning codes, began seeking new land use planning approaches. The first attempt at creating a form-based code was done in 1982 to guide the development of Seaside, Fla. using a design code that established basic physical standards.

Related Terms: Smartcode, Zoning, Regulating Plan, Urban Design


Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) \trədɪʃənəl ˈneɪbərˌhʊd dɪˈveləpmənt\

Definition: The creation of a small-scale neighborhood or community using traditional town planning principles including a range of housing types, a network of well-connected streets and blocks, and the incorporation of public spaces and amenities framed by architecture and landscape design. The TND type of development plan is part of the New Urbanism Movement and uses form-based codes.

Origin: The first development to be labeled TND was Seaside, Fla., however, the first time zoning laws were amended to accommodate this type of development was in 1990 in Bedford, N.H. The first TND ordinance was created in Bedford and then copied in communities all over the country.

Related Terms: Regulating Plan, New Urbanism, Smartcode, Walkable, Urban Design


Low Impact Development \ˈloʊ ɪmˈpækt dɪˈveləpmənt\

Definition: An approach to land development that works with nature to manage stormwater as close to its source as possible. The approach preserves and recreates natural landscape features and minimizes effective imperviousness to create functional and appealing site drainage that treats stormwater as a resource rather than a waste product.

Origin: This concept began in Prince George’s County, Md. in 1990 as an alternative to traditional stormwater best management practices (BMPs). Officials found that the traditional practices such as detention ponds and retention basins were not cost-effective and the results did not meet water quality goals.

Related Terms: Bioretention Facility, Rain Garden, Green Roof, Rain Barrel, Permeable Pavement, Stormwater Management


Concurrency \kənkərənsi\

Definition: A set of land use regulations local governments adopt to ensure sufficient infrastructure capacity, including stormwater, parks, solid waste, water, sewer, schools and mass transit facilities, to serve each proposed new development.

Origin: Local influence over development decisions came under pressure with the population boom following World War II when communities experienced massive population growth. Concurrency involved a new planning and growth management approach that focused on the timing and sequencing of development.

Related Terms: Growth Management, Impact Fees, Infrastructure Finance, Smart Growth


Inclusionary Zoning \ɪnˈkluːʒəneriː ˈzoʊnɪŋ\

Definition: Municipal ordinances that require developers to provide a certain percentage of units in market-rate projects affordable to people with low to moderate incomes. Deed restrictions are placed on those units to keep them affordable.

Origin: Many suburban communities enacted local ordinances to preserve the character of their municipalities and prevent affordable housing from being built. Inclusionary zoning was developed to ensure affordable units would be produced and to create a mix of affordable and market-rate housing in a single neighborhood as opposed to segmented low-income neighborhoods.

Related Terms: Exclusionary Zoning, Fee-in-Lieu, Affordable Housing

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