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You Asked.

How can we regulate form and appearance in industrial zone districts?

I am looking for some examples of industrial zone districts employed by other communities that move towards a more form-based model.  We are looking to institute a new zone district for a future business/industrial park and are more concerned with design and appearance than use.

We Answered.

There are very few examples of form-based codes for industrial districts. The explanation is simple: Form-based codes are intended to prescribe a pedestrian-oriented built form, and the large-format buildings and attendant operational characteristics of large-scale industrial districts are inherently incompatible with this goal. With that said, though, there is no reason why a form-based code couldn’t be successfully used for a clean industrial or high tech/commercial district with smaller footprint buildings and less off-street parking, and a few communities do have form-based zone districts that include industrial uses such as warehouses or light manufacturing uses.

More common than form-based codes in this context are design standards or guidelines for industrial or business park districts, which directly address design and appearance of these areas. These often address elements of both site design (e.g., building orientation and setbacks, parking, circulation, and landscaping) and building design (e.g., building massing and architectural features).

Resource List

Related PAS Products

  • Elliott, Donald L., Matthew Goebel, and Chad Meadows. 2012. The Rules that Shape Urban Form. Planning Advisory Service Report no. 570. Chicago: American Planning Association.

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