If you haven’t had a chance to brush up on the Buffalo Green Code, here is a link to a PDF, which will hopefully catch you up with some of the issues that are scheduled to be discussed at the next public meeting regarding Buffalo’s New Zoning Ordinance. The meeting, to be held on January 26 from 10am to 11:30am at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, is sponsored by the Elmwood Village Association, and should help to make clear the City of Buffalo’s new zoning ordinance, while addressing public comments.
Many of us are familiar with many of the controversies that have surrounded development proposals (that never got built) and completed builds (that never should have been built in the city). Seeing as this public meeting is being sponsored by the EVA, I’m sure that much of the discussion will revolve around various past, current and future Elmwood projects.
We can look back at the hotel that never got built at the corner of Elmwood and Forest, and then on to more current projects such as the new Children’s Hospital development site, and the new Benchmark building in the parking lot across from Blockbuster (soon to be Panera Bread). Up until now these zoning ordinance issues have been confusing and outdated.
How can we move forward with the right projects, and what sort of standards will be in place that dictate what those projects will look like? What makes a neighborhood walkable? What should commercial signage look like? Is there a restriction on the number of restaurants allowed in a neighborhood? What are the building size restrictions? What will parking standards be? These are questions that have been discussed over and over, without having any sort of real guidelines to follow.
- Rules do not address what people want to see in their neighborhoods.
- Developers are required to emulate the suburbs.
- Vague and discretionary requirements make development difficult.
- Standards are derived from boilerplate zoning templates.
- Rules focus intensely on separating uses, regardless of their compatibility.
- The design of streets and open spaces is not addressed.
- Neighbors fear development because standards and procedures provide inadequate safeguards.
- Standards are written in inaccessible legal jargon.
+ The community’s vision is reflected.
+ Clear, objective requirements bring clarity and predictability.
+ A “form-based” approach makes it easier to adapt to an evolving economy.
+ Neighbors have certainty about what can and cannot be built next door.
+ Pedestrian-friendly development is allowed.
+ Standards are based on regional character and building traditions.
+ Transportation choices and a high quality public realm are priorities.
+ Graphics, tables, and simple text make standards easy to understand and apply.
*The Elmwood Village Association will explain some of the changes that will occur as a result of Green Code and will seek the public’s comments on the draft ordinance. More than 10 years ago, the Elmwood Village Association embarked on an effort to establish the Elmwood Village Design Standards, the City of Buffalo’s first set of standards for progressive urban development. The Design Standards were the result of extensive collaboration with the Elmwood Village community; the Standards will be replaced by the Green Code.