It seems like every few days, residents write letters condemning the proposed development of the Brickworks property in East Frederick.
“It doesn’t belong, or match” our city, we say. The parking lots, giant block-like buildings of expensive residences and big-box retail spaces don’t meet the city’s needs and goals of increasing walkability, building connected neighborhoods, providing urban public spaces, strengthening our city’s climate resilience, providing affordable housing, etc.
What allows this development? Our current zoning process.
The city has been working for a long time on a solution — changing our current zoning system to a form-based code.
Form-based code answers the challenges of our city’s development. Communities have direct input on designing practically block-by-block ways to mandate new development, so it matches aspects of the existing community that they love, and at the same times, guides that community to meet its goals and aspirations for the future.
What will be the impact of designing eight different form-based codes for each of our city’s regions?
First, it will be designed by the community itself. Second, it will mandate — through a series of checklists that developers have to comply with — things like building heights, parking lot locations, building frontages and setbacks, and building materials,that preserve the best features of a neighborhood.
Finally, it will guide the neighborhood into the future with smart urban design that delivers what you want and need in your community.
But the east side’s form-based code is the first code being designed for the city. It’s taking time to get it right.
Meanwhile, developers are squeezing through projects while this process, which feels excruciatingly slow, winds its way through the design and approval process.
Please pay attention to the form-based code process unfolding in East Frederick. Imagine what you want for your own neighborhood. And get ready to advocate for it.
Finally, we can avoid the big-box, car-centric sprawl development no one seems to want.
The NAC11 meeting Tuesday 7pm Brewers Alley 2nd Floor has the Form Based Code on the agenda. It's an opportunity to say: "Apply it to the Brickworks site."
Thanks Heather for the describing the situation so clearly.
Spot on. People just don't like the first plan proposed for the Brickworks site. Or else they hate it. It's big boring boxes in a sea of surface parking -- everything that's unattractive, unadaptable and dysfunctional about strip malls. A Form-Based Code won't work everywhere but it is essential for this site. That's because it is the last large unbuilt area adjacent to the downtown historic district. And being located on the major 'gateway' to the downtown it will function as the Introduction to the City. The Form-Based Code is needed to ensure that any development draws on what works and is attractive about the historic downtown: townhouse scaled buildings, narrow lots, buildiings starting at the sidewalk, some very small housing some larger, carparking under or behind buildings, mainly brick and metal, live/work, flexible between residential use and small retail/office, alleys, shared driveways, parcels of lots for small developers to provide variety. Almost all of this is prohibited or discouraged by the old Land Management Code and the associated Zoning that spawned this monstrosity of a proposal.
Exactly, Peter. Heather, thanks for the excellent letter.
“It seems like every few days, residents write letters condemning the proposed development…” I wish there were links to these letters.
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