Planning and Zoning
Simply said, traditional zoning (also called Euclidean Codes), is to segregate uses of land that are thought to be incompatible. In 1916, New York City was the first to adopt zoning regulations. This was done to stop high rising buildings from blocking the sunlight to neighboring residences. Zoning was challenged in the 1926 case Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Amber Realty Co. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of zoning. In the largest Texas city of Houston, there are no zoning ordinances. Land use is regulated by other means.
There are three other kinds of zoning – Form-based codes, incentive zoning, and performance zoning. Performance zoning often poses confidentiality issues to the investor, thus can work against basic economic development principles. Incentive zoning works best in large cities such as Chicago and New York, but only for specific areas. This type of zoning is often complex and difficult to administer. Form-based codes emphasize the form of structures and create livable neighborhoods within a city. It can work great within a Euclidean system.
Sulphur Springs currently subscribes to the Euclidean system of zoning. This means, from a technical perspective, staff makes recommendations on zoning variances based on two findings: 1) What does the land use plan and guidelines call for?, and 2) has their been a precedent set in the surrounding area where the variance is being asked for? The Euclidean system of zoning disallows the requiring of asking the type of apartment structure or what industry is planned for the rezoning. Investors can make this public at their own will. There is a reason for this.
There may be a case where a high-end apartment complex is asking for a variance to a zone. With a $10 million investment and rent being $2,000 per month, neighbors may find this is what they want in their neighborhood for various reasons. With overwhelming support, the variance passes. All the public processes then take place with the best intentions from the investor. Suddenly, the financial market tanks and the investor is unable to come through on the project. Several years pass and a low-income apartment investor decides to purchase the property. It is already zoned appropriately and they can legally build. This is a common challenge in communities across the nation and is why hybrid codes are being adopted, such as form-based codes mixed with Euclidean methods.