Testing the Zoning Ordinance

Zoning Practice — November 2017

By Christopher Jennette, AICP


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Ordinance testing refers to putting regulations through their paces, ensuring that planners and zoning professionals fully understand the consequences and impacts of what they are proposing, drafting, discussing, and ultimately adopting. Testing can take a variety of forms, from presenting "proof of concept" draft districts that allow us to gauge the level of support for general approaches, to completing complex GIS analyses.

Assessing the impacts of zoning regulations before they are enacted is invaluable in ensuring that an updated or revised ordinance will suit the community it is designed to serve. The overarching benefit that testing can provide is the opportunity to evaluate any proposed regulations or approaches in action before they are formally adopted and enacted as part of a new zoning ordinance.

This issue of Zoning Practice discusses when, what, and how to test zoning ordinances and regulations, and it provides examples of how testing has been used to produce zoning ordinances that are more predictable and more closely customized to the needs and desires of their communities.


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Date Published
Nov. 1, 2017
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Christopher Jennette, AICP
<p>Chris Jennette is a planner, landscape architect, and urban designer with over ten years of experience working as a consultant in communities across the US.</p><p>Chris is skilled at crafting clear, concise development regulations that utilize best practices and creative, contextual approaches to meeting a community&rsquo;s development needs. He is adept at evaluating on-the-ground development conditions and ensuring that regulations relate to both local character and<br />adopted land use policy. Additionally, he is skilled at communicating complex regulatory concepts through simple<br />illustrations that enhance ordinance legibility and promote consistency in application.</p><p>Chris&#39; recent experience includes work on a variety of zoning codes and unified development ordinances for communities including Charlotte, North Carolina; Portland, Maine; Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Keene, New Hampshire; Buffalo, Saratoga Springs, and Rochester, New York; New Orleans, Louisiana; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Corpus Christi, Texas; Providence, Rhode Island; Trenton, New Jersey; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.</p>