Cleveland Planning Commission Approves New Form-Based Code

If passed by the city council, the new form-based code will be piloted in four neighborhoods.

2 minute read

March 18, 2024, 7:00 AM PDT

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon


View of Cleveland, Ohio skyline at sunset

Francis / Adobe Stock

Cleveland’s planning commission approved new form-based code language and maps last week — after six years of planning and a decade of discussions. It marks the first fundamental change to the city’s zoning code since 1929. “The form-based code is a pilot project, an initiative funded by $275,000 in public money and grants,” reports Michelle Jarboe for News 5 Cleveland. If passed by the City Council,it will initially apply to four areas of the city, with the potential to expand citywide in the years to come.

Many Clevelanders have long considered the city’s current, traditional zoning code to be broken.

According to Jarboe, variances are routine, “whether someone’s adding a deck to a bungalow or building an apartment complex,” but navigating the approval process takes time, money, and knowledge, ultimately discouraging development. Officials hope the more straight-forward form-based code and simpler processes will encourage investment across the city and allow more city residents to establish home-based businesses, which current zoning laws discourage. The new form-based code will also allow more types of homes, including three- and four-unit projects, tiny houses, backyard apartments, and cluster homes, Jarboe reports.

Shannan Leonard, the chief city planner who led the code-reform effort, told News 5 Cleveland that the overall goal is to make zoning more digestible and to better reflect residents’ desires. “We really want to rely on more straightforward, 21st century language, as well as photos and graphics to kind of help people along … We want to be more equitable … We want to be more sustainable. We want to be healthier. And all of those things are wrapped up into zoning,” Leonard said.

Friday, March 15, 2024 in News 5 Cleveland

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