In the two years since the Local Government Commission’s Smart Growth Zoning Codes: A Resource Guide was first published, the movement to reform zoning codes has gained momentum. Today, form-based codes have become an increasingly popular approach to achieve these reforms and create communities where people want to live, work and play.

Build to line Height Example

The old adage “form follows function” describes the common approach behind land use regulation as it has been practiced in the past. Form-based codes turn that relationship on its head. Since the primary basis for regulation is the buildings, not the uses, “function follows form.” These codes concentrate first on the visual aspect of development: building height and bulk, façade treatments, the location of parking, and the relationship of the buildings to the street and to one another. Simply put, form-based codes emphasize the appearance and qualities of the public realm, the places created by buildings.

This eight-page factsheet (PDF, 3.9 MB) discusses this innovative approach to regulating development and includes case studies and tips for preparing and administering a form-based code.

Form-Based Codes: Implementing Smart Growth (PDF, 3.9 MB)