Traditional Zoning

Bill Weber was retained by the City of Northfield, Minnesota, to lead its Planning Commission through improvements to its hybrid form-based land development code. This complex set of regulations was drafted by other consultants and officials in response to the City’s 2008 comprehensive plan, which has guided the community back to the traditional urban design principles that characterized it for many decades. Subjects included zoning, subdivision and signs and administrative process.

However, City leaders and citizens agreed that the code was difficult to understand and use, overly complicated, not fully consistent with the comprehensive plan and sometimes confusing to administrators. The organization of the code was changed and many substantive adjustments were made, including small but meaningful items such as garage placement and Complete Street design.

Bill is an advocate for traditional principles in city-building and seeks to incorporate them into plans and zoning to the extent possible. Thus, his approach may range from guidelines to a fully-illustrated and highly prescriptive form-based code. Northfield’s code uses text and tables to support the foundational elements of compact, walkable and diverse neighborhoods.