Saturday, January 17, 2015

Zoning as a Tool for Plan Implementation

Zoning is an exercise of the police power: the inherent power of a sovereign government to legislate for the health, welfare, and safety of the community (Cullingworth)

Zoning is the division of a community into zones or districts (e.g. commercial, residential, industrial, etc.) according to present and potential uses of land to maximize, regulate and direct their use and development in accordance with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of the community (HLURB). These definitions point to zoning as a regulatory tool to control the use of the land for the interest of the public.

Components of Zoning

Zoning Map which shows graphically the designation, location and boundaries of the different “zones” or districts into which the community is divided.

Zoning Ordinance or text that specifies in detail what may be constructed in each zone and to what uses structures may be put. It also contain provisions on what steps to do to obtain zoning permits or clearance to use and develop their land and what remedies are available to them should they find some regulations contained therein as too restrictive or difficult to comply with.

Who enacts zoning regulations?
Zoning is enacted in the same manner as other local ordinances which are promulgated by the local legislative body (Sangguniang Panglunsod or Sangguniang Pambayan) and signed into law by the Mayor of the city or municipality.

What is the source of power of the local legislative bodies to enact zoning?
The power to zone is derived from the police power of the State which vests on the legislative body the power to make and establish reasonable laws, statutes or ordinances which shall promote the general welfare of its inhabitants.

What does zoning regulate?
Use – residential, commercial, etc.
Off-street parking – to ensure that new or proposed developments make provisions for some of their own parking needs to prevent congestion and heavy traffic.
Building bulk – requiring setback provisions on the front and side, rear yards; limiting building heights and limiting the proportion or amount of an area that may be covered by buildings
Population density – specifying minimum required size for each lot, limiting the number of families per hectare or setting a minimum required lot area for each family.
Others – landscaping signs, appearance of building, loading and unloading, and view protection

Types of Zoning

Traditional (Euclidian) Zoning – originally vested on the motion of hierarchy or pyramid of land uses, with “lower” uses assured to have harmful effects on “higher” uses. Zoning was justified on the economic premise that the unregulated use of land produces harmful consequences when incompatible uses are located near one another. Rigid and restrictive. Segregation of noxious activities out of residential areas and into their own districts.

“The New York City Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance in 1916” – first comprehensive zoning ordinance; model ordinance

Non-Cumulative Zoning – each successive district admits the uses of all the more restricted districts. One district exclusively for residential, second district (commercial) admits also residential uses. The industrial district, being the lowest class district, is open to all uses. Commercial and industrial districts enjoy the same exclusiveness accorded only to residences.

Special Use Zoning – this technique retain the usual residential, commercial and industrial zones, specifying the uses permitted in each zone. For each zone, however, special areas are also established which are permitted within the zone only if approved by the zoning board on the governing legislative body.

Spot Zoning – process of singling out a small parcel of land for a use classification totally different from that of the surrounding area, for the benefit of the owner of such property and to the detriment of the owners of the others. Spot zoning is the very antithesis of planned planning. A kind of ad-hoc zoning that allows a small piece of land to deviate from the approved zone of the area.

Bonus or Incentive Zoning – will allow increase residential densities if developers will include some units earmarked for low and moderate-income tenants. A particular zone can be permitted to increase from 8 to 10 units if 15% of the units are reserved for low and moderate-income tenants. It will also permit additional height for office development if developer will provide certain amenities at ground level – for example, a plaza in front of the entrance of the building, a direct entrance to a subway station, or “vest pocket” park or sitting area.

Transfer of Development Rights – intent is to concentrate development areas where it is wanted and to restrict it in areas where it is not. A sending area and a receiving area are designated. Priority owners in the sending and receiving areas who do not develop their properties to the full extent permitted by law may sell their unused rights to property areas in receiving areas. This technique is used to preserve open space, limit development in an ecologically fragile area, or to achieve historic preservation goals among others.

Inclusionary Zoning – developers who builds more than a specified number of units must include a certain percentage for low and moderate income households or some other designated group of households. It differs from the incentive or bonus approach in that the inclusion of low and moderate-income units is not discretionary.
It is the same, however, in that it shifts some of the costs of housing such households to developer. He or she in turn, is likely to shift at least some of that cost to the other buyers or renter.

Planned Unit Development – the entire community is zoned in a conventional manner. However, the law provides that a property owner with a minimum number of acres, say 20, has the option of applying to develop his or her holdings as a PUD.
In this case, the property is subject to different set of controls. The density permitted may or may not be the same as that stipulated by the conventional ordinance and the uses permitted may or may not be the same. The entire site plan will be reviewed as a single entity under a review specified by the PUD ordinance.

Cluster Zoning – another technique to free the site designer from the rigidity of conventional Euclidian zoning while still letting the community retain control of the over-all effects of development. Cluster ordinances, which generally apply to residential development, permit the building of houses on smaller lots, provided that the space saved is used for community purposes. Completed development shall have no more houses in it than it could contain if developed with the original requirement.

Performance Zoning/Flexible Zoning – stipulates what or may not be done in terms of end results instead of giving detailed regulations on the exact form of development. It can be regarded as an attempt to achieve the same goals as conventional zoning but in a more flexible manner. Hallmark is the use of performance standards to determine appropriate uses and development designs for parcels of land. Flexible zoning ordinances therefore incorporate performance standards for land uses, site design, and building characteristics and provide administrative mechanisms that minimize discretionary actions by public officials.

Development Agreements – a municipality may pass enabling legislation that permits municipal governments to enter into “development agreements”. These bypass the existing zoning, though they must be in conformity with the comprehensive plan. The contract between the developer and the municipality specifies what the developer may do and also what he or she is required to do within the project area. The developer benefits by being permitted to do things not permitted under the existing zoning.

Exactions – the exaction technique may be used to achive similar results as incentive zoning. For example, a municipality, instead of using exactions, offers density bonuses to office developers who build downtown housing. Both the exaction and the bonus technique will work best where growth pressures are strong and land availability limited. If the community is hungry for development, it will not burden developers with the additional costs of exactions, nor will density bonuses be particularly attractive. Rather than demanding exactions, the municipality may be offering subsidies or tax abatements.


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