An Examination of the Form-Based Code and its Application to the Town of Blacksburg
Sharp, Jeremy E.
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The form-based code has emerged only recently as an alternative to the traditional Euclidean zoning method. This new method was originally created as a part of the landmark Seaside, FL new town of the 1980s that was one of the first projects to display the ideas of the emerging New Urbanist movement. This earliest version of the form-based code established the form and structure that would remain largely intact in all future implementations of the concept. Most importantly, though, the Seaside code established the idea that form is more important than function when designing a community. Since the time of Seaside, the form-based code has been utilized for many projects, evolving from a tool used entirely for rural new towns to a method that was applicable to existing communities as well. These new applications, most notably in South Miami, FL and Arlington, VA, show that the form-based concept can be used for the revitalization of a community by establishing a form-based overlay district and providing incentives to encourage development based on the form-based code. This paper examines the effectiveness of the form-based code in such an environment, namely in a portion of the town of Blacksburg, VA. This is accomplished by comparing the potential effectiveness of the existing Blacksburg zoning ordinance against that of a form-based code for implementing the goals of the town's comprehensive plan. The potential benefits and shortcomings of each method are discussed and a recommendation is made for how the town should proceed.
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