Western New York is beginning to experiment with progressive zoning options in order to spur on more business friendly towns and villages. In a move among communities and the city planners that is geared at revitalizing the region, there is a push to start using what is called form-based zoning rather than the traditional Euclidian zoning.

Encouraging commercial real estate through these new zoning modifications will be accomplished by making these business centers more accessible to all. That is one of benefit of form-based zoning. Form-based zoning is geared towards making areas more business friendly by bringing newly built buildings to the front of the property while relegating parking to the back, thus creating an area accessible to all - pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders, and automobile drivers.

In contrast, Euclidian zoning tends to focus on restrictions based on numbers. It dictates how high, how wide, what kind of parking can be available, and what kinds of businesses can utilize the space. It is much more restrictive to business owners and less flexible in providing communities with businesses and aesthetically pleasing structures that they desire. Euclidian zoning is used throughout most communities in the United States and according to one expert is "very auto-centric." This type of zoning is designed to accommodate drivers going from point A to point B.

With the switch to form-based zoning, the focal point of the buildings becomes flexibility as it is based on the form, not the use. This allows for the building owners to modify the usage within the building according to community needs and desires because it is built to form and code. If a community suddenly needs more residential space, some of the structural area could be turned to apartments or condos while other parts remain open for business, or vice versa. It is overall a more flexible means of bringing businesses to an area or region and providing residents what is really needed within those communities.

If you are working on zoning transactions and need assistance reviewing and/or drafting legal documents, please consult with an estate planning attorney. Their skills and knowledge will help ensure that your interests are protected and safeguarded both now and in the future.

Source: Buffalo Law Journal, "Progressive zoning creates opportunities," Matt Chandler, Jan. 21, 2013