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Port Chester Adopts Village-Wide Form Based Zoning Code

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Port Chester has approved a major overhaul to its zoning code, becoming the second municipality in the state to adopt a form-based zoning code.

The new form-based zoning code was borne out of the Village’s 2012 Comprehensive Plan, which looked to replace its outdated 1975 zoning code with a new zoning code that would focus growth around the train station, while protecting the Village’s residential neighborhoods.

“Form-based zoning prioritizes the character of neighborhoods, districts and corridors within the community as the central organizing framework of the Village.  With a focus on how the size, shape and design of buildings relate to each other and to the ‘public realm,’ or streetscape, this type of zoning works to create a vibrant streetscape with a mix of uses where appropriate, and balances transportation options to include walking, biking and transit in addition to driving in a car,” said Brian Wright, Principal of Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative or TPUDC, the zoning experts from Franklin, Tennessee that led the Village’s effort.

TPUDC has worked on a number of form-based codes around the country, including Burlington, VT, Birmingham, AL, and Mt. Pleasant, MI, among others. Also, part of the TPUDC team was Fisher Associates, who worked on the Green Code out of The City of Buffalo. While Port Chester drew inspiration from best practices nationwide, it tailored its new zoning code to local needs, said Eric Zamft, Director of Planning & Economic Development for the Village. “We took our consultant’s experience and mixed it with our own local flavor,” stated Zamft.

The code adoption was the result of over two years of community outreach and engagement – under the “Plan the Port” initiative. Plan the Port included over 50 meetings with community members, key stakeholders such as local businesses and not-for-profits, the development community, as well as with each of the Village’s development-related volunteer boards and commissions. This was highlighted by a 10-day visioning and planning event early on in the process entitled “PlanapaloozaTM”. “Central to all of these conversations was an open and honest dialogue about where the community should head into the future,” stated Zamft. “We all coalesced around the objective to ‘Allow the RIGHT type of development in the RIGHT types of places.” Zamft added that Plan the Port was innovative in its engagement, particularly with the Village’s Latino community, as well as how it handled the impacts of potential future development.

“I am elated with the adoption of the form-based code by the Board of Trustees. Its adoption was the result of the hard work of numerous people and really proves that grass roots efforts pay off,” stated Richard ‘Fritz’ Falanka, the Village’s Mayor. “This type of zoning greatly improves the ability for the Village to attract development while maintaining our historic village character. While change does not happen overnight this zoning will help initiate change and much needed growth, especially as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The newly adopted code can be found on the Village’s website here.

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