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Character-Based Code

ABOUT THE PROJECT
The goal of this planning effort is to create a new city-wide zoning ordinance known as a character-based code.  This type of code places a strong emphasis on form and function in order to create and maintain livable and desirable neighborhoods.  The new ordinance will provide updated standards for development and redevelopment throughout the community with a variety of goals including promoting a strong sense of place, supporting walking and bicycling, and enhancing the community’s urban fabric.

PROJECT OVERVIEW
The process to create and adopt the new character-based code is expected to take approximately one year.

In September 2016, the consultant team visited Mt. Pleasant to familiarize themselves with the current zoning ordinance as well as hear from stakeholders on the current zoning regulations and the development patterns that have occurred in the City as a result. A kickoff event was held where an overview of the project was provided and community input was provided.

In November 2016, the City hosted its first ever Planapalooza, a four-day event that included a hands-on workshop, several topic-specific roundtable discussions, and presentations. The City Commission Chamber was transformed into a design studio with community members invited in to share their ideas throughout the weekend and the doors open for 36 hours over a three day period. More than 300 community members participated in Planapalooza.

The consultant team will be creating the draft character-based code over the next several months. A draft will be available for public review and posted to this webpage in mid-2017.

ABOUT THE CONSULTANT
Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative, LLC (TPUDC) is a national planning, design, and coding firm that specializes in the advancement of walkable, compact, diverse, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly environments and memorable places that withstand the test of time. TPUDC works exclusively on complex projects where there is an interest in informed and directed development and in generating a vision shaped by many hands. They have extensive experience balancing business interests, quality of life for residents, changing demographics, transportation decisions, and all the other forces that work to shape a community. TPUDC is based out of Franklin, TN. You can learn more about TPUDC at www.tpudc.com.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is this project important?

Zoning regulates the size, shape, location, and use of buildings and property; the quantity and type of landscaping; the quantity and location of parking; and the quantity and type of signage among other things. Current and future regulations apply to all properties in the City, including residential properties. This is a once-in-a-generation project. The zoning ordinance has not been significantly updated since 1984 and the last complete overhaul was in 1971 – 45 years ago.

What is a character-based code?

A Character-Based Code is an approach to zoning that is intended to produce predictable outcomes that are aligned with community goals and objectives. Specifically, a character-based code is best suited to preserve and enhance the unique character of Mt. Pleasant; transform areas of the City (such as Mission Street) by creating character and improving walkability, bikeability, and safety; and improve the overall livability of the community. A character-based code includes a range of standards regulating use, frontage type, building form, building placement, density, civic space, and parking standards for each character (zoning) district. Character districts are assigned to areas of the community and depicted on a regulating plan, the equivalent of a zoning map.

Will we see rapid changes in the community after adoption of the new code?

Very unlikely. In fact, one of the most immediate impacts of the new code is likely that new development will be less noticeable and more in keeping with the character of the community. Currently, the zoning ordinance prescribes minimums and maximums as well as allowable uses but provides very little clarity on exactly what type of development might result. You have probably noticed a business or home in the community that “just doesn’t fit” with its surroundings. In districts designed to preserve or enhance existing character, the new code will be designed to ensure new development “fits.” In districts where transformation to a new character is intended – such as Mission Street – new development over years and decades will bring to life the community’s vision for those districts.

Will my property be rezoned?

The new code will include new character-based districts to replace existing zoning designations. Most properties are expected to transition into a district that is equivalent to the current zoning designation in terms of intensity and use (i.e., C-2 to T-5). Some district boundary alteration is likely but is expected to be limited.

Can I watch any of the previous events online?

Yes, the kickoff presentation, community workshop, and Planapalooza final presentation were all taped and are available for viewing on the City’s YouTube page.

How can I learn more?

City staff is available to discuss the character-based code and what it means for you and our community any time. You can visit the Planning & Community Development Department at City Hall, 2nd floor, or contact City Planner Jacob Kain by email at jkain@mt-pleasant.org or phone at (989) 779-5346.

City staff can also come to you; contact us if your workplace, neighborhood, or community organization would like to arrange for a project presentation and Q&A session.