Central Main Street Plan Form-Based Zoning
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Adopted Form-Based Code
In conjunction with the adoption of the Central Main Plan,
the City of Mesa contracted with
Design to develop a form-based zoning code. Combined with
the Central Main Plan, application of the form-based zoning code
will provide property owners, developers, and the City an
innovative tool to encourage and guide infill development and
redevelopment of property along the existing and future light
Application of form-based zoning principles will result in a
mixed-use, higher intensity, transit-oriented development
pattern that will create a more livable community with a greater
sense of place for visitors and resident, achieve greater energy
efficiency, improve sustainability, and improve economic
The Form-Based Code was adopted by City Council on June 14,
What is Form-Based Zoning?
Form-Based Codes Institute, February 2009
Form-based codes foster predictable built results and a
high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than
separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code.
These codes are adopted into city or county law as regulations,
not mere guidelines. Form-based codes are an alternative to
Form-based codes address the relationship between building
facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in
relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and
blocks. The regulations and standards in Form-based codes,
presented in both diagrams and words, are keyed to a regulating
plan that designates the appropriate form and scale (and
therefore, character) ofDevelopment rather than only
distinctions in land-use types. This is in contrast to
conventional zoning's focus on the micromanagement and
segregation of land uses, and the control ofDevelopment
intensity through abstract and uncoordinated parameters (e.g.,
floor-area ratio, dwellings per acre, setbacks, parking ratios,
traffic level of service) to the neglect of an integrated built
form. Not to be confused with design guidelines or general
statements of policy, Form-based codes are regulatory, not
Form-based codes are drafted to achieve a community vision
based on time-tested forms of urbanism. Ultimately, a Form-based
code is a tool; the quality ofDevelopment outcomes is dependent
on the quality and objectives of the community plan that a code
Form-based codes commonly include the following elements:
- Regulating Plan. A plan or map of the regulated
area designating the locations where different building form
standards apply, based on clear community intentions
regarding the physical character of the area being code.
- Public Space Standards. Specifications for the
elements within the public realm (e.g., sidewalks, travel
lanes, on-street parking, street trees, street furniture,
- Building Form Standards. Regulations controlling
the configuration, features, and functions of buildings that
define and shape the public realm.
- Administration. A clearly defined application and
project review process.
- Definitions. A glossary to ensure the precise use
of technical terms.
Form-based codes also sometimes include:
- Architectural Standards. Regulations controlling
external architectural materials and quality.
- Landscaping Standards. Regulations controlling
landscape design and plant materials on private property as
they impact public spaces (e.g. regulations about parking
lot screening and shading, maintaining sight lines, insuring
unobstructed pedestrian movements, etc.).
- Signage Standards. Regulations controlling
allowable signage sizes, materials, illumination, and
- Environmental Resource Standards. Regulations
controlling issues such as storm water drainage and
infiltration,Development on slopes, tree protection, solar
- Annotation. Text and illustrations explaining the
intentions of specific code provisions.
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55 N. Center St.
PO Box 1466, Mail
Mesa, AZ 85211
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