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Form-Based Code Ended Single-Family Zoning a Decade Ago in Grand Rapids

The story of the Grand Rapids zoning code update of a decade ago offers perspective on the possibilities of code reform.
January 1, 2019, 7am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Maria Dryfhout

Jared Brey is giving credit where credit is due, and Grand Rapids, Michigan has been operating without single-family zoning for a decade.

That perspective is relevant because of the actions of Minneapolis to pass a new comprehensive plan that sets the city on a path toward removing all single-family zones from the city.

"Ten years ago, when Grand Rapids set out to rewrite its zoning ordinance, the common complaint from developers as well as residents was that it was unpredictable," according to Brey.

"What they ended up with is a type of zoning that [Grand Rapids Managing Director of Design, Development & Community Engagement Suzanne] Schulz refers to as 'form-based lite.' Residential districts are either low-density or mixed-density, and most housing types are permitted either by right or by a special exception, which requires a public hearing before the planning commission.

One problem that Grand Rapids form-based code hasn't solved, according to the article: affordability.

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 in Next City
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