November 9, 2005

Montgomery May Revamp Zoning To Allow For Traditional Neighborhoods

Livable-community advocates have long complained that "modern" zoning codes usually outlaw the kind of building patterns that create some of the nation's most popular neighborhoods. Places like Boston's Back Bay, with their emphasis on pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, would be illegal under zoning codes that require large building setbacks, minimum off-street parking lots and separate uses (i.e. no condos above the trendy shops).

But some cities and towns are re-examining their zoning regulations, trying to allow the return of traditional neighborhood patterns instead of car-centric, soul-less suburbs. Mongomery, Alabama, is the latest:

"Some aspects of popular and aesthetic Montgomery communities -- such as Cloverdale and the Garden District -- would be illegal under city zoning drafted decades ago, but there is a movement to update those and adopt smart code," the Montgomery Advertiser reports.

" 'It will allow for newer neighborhoods to be created in the mold of old neighborhoods such as Cloverdale and the Garden District and provide another option to cookie-cutter subdivisions that are primarily automobile-oriented,' said Chad Emerson, professor at Faulkner University's Jones School of Law.

"Emerson helped draft the code for the city. The code promotes walkable communities with more public green space and a variety of houses and businesses located close to one another."

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