Goals of the Form Based Code
- Develop a code that is more visual based than text, which will be easier for the public to use and understand
- Draft a code to achieve a community vision based on time-tested forms of urbanism
- Position downtown Dover for positive and flexible future development and redevelopment
- Review and encourage responsible development that reuses established infrastructure
- Continue downtown’s trend to promote a walkable community.
Implementing the FBC in Dover
The Form Based Code (FBC) is a method of regulating land use which places more emphasis on community character and the impact development has on the public realm than traditional zoning does. A guiding principal behind the development of a FBC is that the buildings and physical alteration of land is more long lasting than the initial use found within the building that is constructed, and we should be concerned about community character and appearance.
What does the FBC do?
The FBC attempts to recognize the value of existing buildings in an area so that the building fabric, as observed from the public right of way, is relatively consistent. It looks to see if buildings on this street are multi-story? Do they rest at the back edge of the sidewalk? Then so should new construction. Are they of brick or masonry construction? Then efforts should be made either to replicate those materials completely, or to use them as decorative accents to assist the new construction in “fitting” with the existing fabric of the community. Are front yards ten feet or less for existing homes? Then so should the new construction be set back a similar distance. Form based zoning attempts to replicate the organic process by which our existing downtown neighborhoods grew, over time, but with each new element generally
The Form Based Code (FBC) uses a transect, which is a planning tool to define a series of zones that transition from sparse rural to the dense urban core. A major feature of a transect is that it incorporates a variety of residential and commercial spaces into a single neighborhood. Dover’s FBC project will create transects around the downtown core, and will radiate from there. At this time the intention is to not replace all of Dover’s zoning with FBC, rather it will focus on the most dense areas located in and around the urban core.
Elements of the Code:
- Regulating Plan: A map of the City designating the locations where different building form standards apply, based on clear community intentions regarding the physical character of the area being coded.
- Public Space Standards. Specifications for the elements within the public realm (e.g., sidewalks, travel lanes, on-street parking, street trees, street furniture, etc.).
- 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.
City of Dover, NH