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Zoning is designed to protect a community by outlining what can and can’t be built on a given piece of land. It sets standards to ensure that adjacent buildings complement rather than conflict with each other. And it determines whether homes, schools, and stores are clustered together or set far apart.

The second step of the Green Code is developing a Zoning Ordinance to implement the recommendations outlined in the Draft Land Use Plan. During the planning process, the benefits of a form-based code became evident. This would emphasize the placement of buildings rather than specific uses, and provide the flexibility needed to realize the community’s vision for walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods.

Buffalo’s current zoning is a patchwork of rules that are unable to encourage the types of development that residents want. The code was designed to separate different types of uses – such as housing, work, and shopping – from each other. While it has undergone substantial changes since its initial adoption, these have made the code complex, confusing, and difficult to use.

To simplify this process, the city is pursuing a Unified Development Ordinance that combines zoning, subdivision, and public realm standards into a single document. A user-friendly UDO will align approval procedures, eliminate conflicts among related codes, and encourage quality development through a coordinated set of regulations.