April 2010 home page


FBC Redesigns Review
Anthony Corso | Stratford Court


At the March 17th meeting of the Form Based Code Advisory Committee (FBC) several sub-committees presented specific ideas for implementing a FBC approach to revitalizing commercial downtown. Previous sessions were primarily devoted to lengthy discussions of the village’s commercial area in terms of retail uses, architecture, design and lot coverage, age of structures and physical condition, parking availability and views from various vantage points.

Several times it was noted that builders require guarantees and assurances that their plans will meet city requirements, prior to proceeding with the costly process of plan preparation, acquisition of finances, obtaining construction loans, contracting with construction companies etc. In other words property owners and others need to know the rules of the game before they are interested in playing. In the context of such convictions the FBC Committee set out the following objectives:

Objectives of Design Review Procedures and Standards
Streamline Design Review Procedures under the Form Based Code; Provide clear Standards and Guidelines for FBC design review; Increase the “predictability “of outcomes; Leave the Design Review Ordinance “as is” for other Zones in the City.

Design Review Procedures
One Sub-Committee suggested that a separate Design Review Board be formed, with its own distinctive set of standards and guidelines; it would, when required, evaluate proposals in the FBC Commercial district. However, projects would be classified into “minor” (subject to administrative review by the Planning Director) and Major (subject to the review by the FBC Design Review Board). As noted, “Not all project proposals would be subject to a design review process. If a project is below a certain square footage (number still to be determined) it might fit the category of a ‘minor project’; those over this threshold would be categorized a “major project” and subject to a FBC Design Review.”

The Focus of FBC Design Review
FBC Design Review procedures would be centered upon three major areas of design review: View and Privacy Protection thought critical to adjacent properties, and findings required for denial of any discretionary permit.

The committee discussed a comprehensive list of possible standards and guidelines that might be utilized as the basis for evaluating projects in the FBC zone, as well as a means of informing potential builders as to the city’s expectations. Many of these standards were used successfully in other cities, such as Pasadena.

The FBC Committee admitted that many of the discussion items were still at the draft stage and open to further exploration by concerned groups and individuals.
(Please see Sandpiper website for a complete list of FBC answers to questions posed by author Corso in the March issue.)

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