Rezone property to achieve (re)development goals without special approvals.
Zoning ordinances should regulate the goals of the master plan and are a key tool to implement plans in a community. Inflexible or obsolete zoning regulations can discourage (re)development and investment while outdated regulations force developers to pursue rezoning or variances. This can disturb project timelines, increase costs, and create uncertainty for the project. Communities should look to streamline ordinances and regulate for the kind of development that is truly desired.
Building proposals that fit within the specifications of local zoning policies may proceed as-of-right which encourages investment. Developers still need to secure a building permit and fulfill customary regulatory requirements, but the approvals process is generally less contentious and/or time-consuming than the process for proposals that require an exception from current zoning regulations. Through the revision of zoning policies, jurisdictions can significantly broaden the types of housing that are allowed as-of-right, thus simplifying and reducing the cost of delivering homes that are more likely to be affordable to working families.
For more information on “as-of-right” development, visit the Housing Policy Toolbox
Encourage Spaces and Places for Pollinators.
Bees and other pollinators are essential to a healthy environment, yet are declining in many places due, in part, to local landscaping ordinances in new development and discouraging native landscape habitats. New research indicates that 30% of our daily food and 85% of all plant life is dependant on bees and other pollinators. Supportive habitats are a vital part of our ecosystem. Follow a 3-point system to 1) CONVERT under-utilized land for habitat for increased ecological function and support of pollinator population; 2) consider INTEGRATING native habitat into public approval process as part of landscaping requirements; and 3) ENLIST and ALLOW private development to create native habitat plantings.
Adopt Complete Streets Ordinances
People of all ages and abilities should be able to safely move along and across streets in a community. Complete Streets are streets that are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, regardless of how they are traveling. Complete Streets make it easy for pedestrians and bicyclists to safely move about the city. Implementation of Complete Streets can involve changes to design standards or the adoption of templates such as the Model Design Manual for Living Streets or Complete Streets, Complete Networks.
For more information on Complete Streets, visit Smart Growth America.
As an alternative to rezoning, adopt overlay zoning districts in (re)development areas provided that the language provides clarity, consistency, and flexibility when market demand and community vision align.
An overlay district is a specific geographic area upon which additional land use requirements are applied, on top of the underlying zoning code, in order to promote a specified goal. Overlay districts may be used to allow greater flexibility in development types without undergoing a large-scale rezoning.
The APA explains that overlay zoning establishes “additional or stricter standards and criteria for covered properties in addition to those of the underlying zoning district. Communities often use overlay zones to protect special features such as historic buildings, wetlands, steep slopes, and waterfronts. Overlay zones can also be used to promote specific development projects, such as mixed-used developments, waterfront developments, housing along transit corridors, or affordable housing.”
For more information read the League of Minnesota Cities Zoning Guide for Cities.
Adopt reduced parking requirements for areas with access to transit (within a quarter mile of bus or rail).
Adopt reduced parking requirements for areas with access to transit (within a quarter mile of bus or rail). Parking requirements can make (re)development, especially housing at affordable levels, prohibitively expensive to build. This issue is exacerbated near transit, where land values can be relatively high. The MITOD Action Guide states that parking spaces consume 320,350 square feet, while “high parking requirements increase the amount of land that must be purchased for housing or trigger the need for structured parking, which adds $20,000 to $40,000 per space to the project’s total development costs. Cities can lower the cost of development near transit by adopting parking standards that reflect the greater likelihood that residents in well-designed, transit-oriented developments will use transit.”
For more information on reduced parking requirements, visit the MITOD Action Guide.
ULI MN Program Summary: Where Do We Park Those Cars?
Parking strategies developed by the CTLUS Advisory Group.
Examine innovative tools to meet new market preferences, such as:
- Allow residential uses within commercial (re)development areas (mixed use).
Developers state that “(re)development requires zoning that is forward-looking and flexible” but most financial, zoning, and building codes were not designed with mixed use in mind. “Developers prefer that cities tell them what their goals are and what kinds of tools/financial support are available; in turn, they’ll work with the city to problem-solve and get as close to the goals as possible.” Redevelopment in the Twin Cities: A Developer’s View, provides additional opinions from local developers.
- Allow small commercial uses in multifamily residential zones.
Small commercial uses add vibrancy and convenience to neighborhoods, increasing the neighborhood value and appeal to various demographics. They are designed to be pedestrian-oriented (with minimal parking) to minimize the impact on surrounding neighborhoods and be compatible with the surrounding scale and context.
- Allow accessory dwelling units in fully developed neighborhoods.
Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are small, self-contained residential units built on the same lot as an existing single-family home. Because they are often used by extended family members, ADUs are also referred to as “in-law apartments” or “granny flats.” ADUs may be built within a primary residence (such as in an attic or basement), attached to the primary residence (like a small duplex unit with a separate entrance), or detached from the primary residence (such as conversion of a detached garage). An ADU will be subordinate in size, location, and function to the primary residential unit. Depending on locality, ADUs may or may not be in compliance with local zoning and planning regulations. While many municipalities allow such units to be rented, others do not. For more information on accessory dwelling units, see the following resources:
- Allow home-based entrepreneurial businesses as an incubator for new ideas that create jobs.
According to the APA’s Commissioner, almost 10 percent of U.S. workers worked at home at least one day a week (derived from Census reports). Of those, three-quarters were full time at home. Permitting these uses under zoning code is an important regulatory step to their continued adoption. Steps toward regulatory clarity include defining what as-of-right accessory uses residents are entitled to, as well as regulations for parking, visitors, employees, hours of operation, deliveries, appearance, and other aspects that might impact residential neighborhoods. Community members and boards or commissions can help to conceive local regulation.