Maryland City Reveals Draft Form-Based Code

With the new zoning code, Frederick aims to shift away from use-based zoning regulations.

1 minute read

April 30, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Historic Downtown Frederick Maryland sign in downtown area.

George Sheldon / Frederick, Maryland

The City of Frederick, Maryland is introducing its first draft form-based code, described in a press release as “a zoning regulation that guides how developments and buildings relate to the public realm first, and only secondarily to what uses occur inside them.”

Form-based codes differ from more traditional zoning codes by focusing on the form of buildings rather than their use. As explained in this Planopedia entry, “Form-based codes 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 types of streets and blocks.” Form-based codes are designed to create a sense of place and promote walkability and compact development.

For Frederick, goals for the new code include:

  • “Promote high-quality structures, streetscape, urban design public realm within an urban context.”
  • “Encourage all development types for a unified and attractive environment.”
  • “Promote differentiated and unique ideas that can provide a sense of place and destination while encouraging new and expanded development in the corridor.”

The city is encouraging the public to provide feedback on the draft code and will hold a series of public meetings.

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