Establish design standards for placemaking.
Having thoughtful design standards that are both flexible and responsive to diverse conditions is an essential component of moving toward a community filled with special places that are inviting and memorable. Such standards are needed for the benefit of government projects involving public spaces, as well as for private entities striving to build quality developments on adjoining private lands. Without comprehensive standards that address both the public and private realms, even hard work and the best intentions will frequently not result in the high level of quality “placemaking” that the community expects and deserves.
Within the public realm, street and sidewalk design, landscaping and progressive storm water management, usable and calming pockets of greenspace, street life and art, festivals, celebrations and other special events, and transportation connections and destinations are all important. In the private realm, there is an equally long list of design issues that must be addressed, including building mass and height, building orientation toward public spaces, provision of usable open space, design of streetscape features, location and orientation of garages and off-street parking, integration of mixed uses and diverse housing choices, and relationships to adjoining and/or surrounding land uses. For both public and private land development, accommodating the needs of bikers and pedestrians in addition to vehicles is an increasingly important challenge.
Historically, government regulations and policies relating to development have been fairly rigid and not responsive to diverse conditions. That needs to change. Also, in many instances there are conflicting goals between different arms of government that ultimately discourage rather than encourage the creation of special places. That also needs to change. These elements of change, which will likely require amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and Land Subdivision Regulations (and related regulations and policies), should be pursued with a high expectation of what needs to be accomplished as both public and private lands are developed.
- Amend the zoning ordinance to include placemaking elements.