Collections > Master's Papers > Department of City and Regional Planning > A Case Study Examination Of Form-Based Code Use In North Carolina

Form-based codes (FBC) are a regulatory instrument that emerged from the New Urbanism movement in the 1990s as an alternative to conventional zoning. In contrast to conventional zoning, which regulates the ways land is used and to what intensity, FBC put the primary regulation on the types of allowed buildings, rather than on the uses contained within the structures. Proponents suggest that FBC can be used to shape the built environment according to human-scale patterns, rather than the car-oriented patterns that dominated the latter half of the 20th Century. While FBC initially were used for new developments, municipalities across the nation have adopted them for existing urban areas. Some of these codes apply to specific districts within a traditional zoning scheme; others have completely replaced the conventional zoning systems. In North Carolina, at least nine municipalities have adopted form-based land use regulations. The first of these codes was adopted by the City of Belmont (1993), located west of Charlotte in Gaston County. Three towns along the Interstate 77 corridor in northern Mecklenburg County followed: Davidson (1995), Cornelius (1996), and Huntersville (1996). Other municipalities with FBC are scattered across the state: Catawba (2003) and Conover (1999) in Catawba County, Mooresville in Iredale County (2005), Waynesville in Haywood County (2005), and Knightdale in Wake County (2005). Given the longevity of FBCs in the state and the number of municipalities that have adopted them in some capacity, an analysis of their application could be useful to planning professionals, elected officials and other interested parties. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to: a) Explain the rationale for FBC. b) Compare the approaches to their use in North Carolina. c) Evaluate the effectiveness of the codes in reaching their intended results.