Chattanooga Approves New Form-Based Code for Downtown

 

The Chattanooga City Council voted unanimously tonight to give its second, and final, approval of new downtown zoning rules.

The new zoning regulations, referred to as form-based codes, apply to Chattanooga's downtown and adjoining urban areas to the north, south and east.

The final passage of the new zoning serves as the end result of 18 months of discussions by city planners, elected officials and community stakeholders concerning development regulations that focus more on pedestrians, motorists and urban aesthetics than a site's particular residential, commercial or industrial usage.

Last week, the council voted 8-0 to approve the new urban zoning rules. Councilman Ken Smith was absent from the meeting. Tonight the council voted 9-0 to approve the final passage.

At that meeting, council members addressed concerns raised by residents concerning minimal parking requirements, a recurring topic of the form-based code discussion.

During the meeting, council members addressed concerns voiced by residents over parking requirements, a recurring topic of public form-based codes meetings.

Councilman Chris Anderson said the new rules offered a significant improvement over current zoning.

"Today, there are no parking requirements," Anderson said. "What this does is create them."

Councilman Yusuf Hakeem asked the council to go forward with the vote in light of a number of changes already incorporated into the new zoning regulations and a six-month review period that follows after their adoption.

"I do not feel we will come up with a perfect document" Hakeem said. "We have to get off the dime and put something in place."

Regional Planning Agency Executive Director John Bridger called zoning conversation "a good example of a civic deliberative process that everyone can live with that can advance our city."

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