Officials in the town of Hamden, Conn., are looking into a new way of regulating zoning, reports JLC's Ted Cushman. Instead of focusing on what a building is used for, as traditional zoning does, the new approach, called "form-based zoning," concentrates on what a building looks like — its form — and how it relates to the street and the neighborhood.
The focus on the physical form of buildings encourages diverse, attractive and walkable streets, protects the character of neighborhoods and encourages development by making it more predictable and less administratively cumbersome, advocates say.
As municipalities in Connecticut reconsider and update their local zoning ordinances, some of them are taking a fresh look at the whole concept of community land use planning. Town by town, the resulting reforms could have a big effect on the mix of building designs and construction methods in many evolving downtown and suburban locations.