In our town planning practice, one of the largest obstacles to overcome is the restrictive zoning currently in place in most municipalities. In many cases current zoning does not allow quality urbanism to be built, but rather, encourages sprawl development. Adopting a new system of zoning, usually manifested in form based codes, allows for placemaking to again become the centerpiece of our built environment.
Form based codes regulate development to achieve a specific urban form. These codes create a predictable public realm by primarily focusing on physical form, rather than on land use. They address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and type of streets and blocks. The regulations and standards in form based codes are presented in both diagrams and words. These are then keyed to a regulating plan that designates the appropriate form, scale and character of development. This is contrary to conventional coding that mainly makes distinctions based on land-use types.