The City has begun an initiative to rewrite the Denton Development Code (DDC). The DDC sets requirements for what, where, and how much can be built in Denton. The update to the code will address a variety of issues raised in the comprehensive plan (Denton Plan 2030), including a new lineup of zoning districts to facilitate implementation of the future land use map and updated development and design standards that address the layout, look, and feel of new development and redevelopment.
The Denton Development Code (DDC) outlines the rules and processes that regulate where and what type of development may occur. The DDC has a significant impact on our daily life, from shaping the kinds of places we live, work, and shop, as well as influencing the design of our streets and public spaces.
Types of Zoning Codes:
Traditional “Euclidean” Zoning
Traditional zoning codes stem from the country’s earliest examples of zoning to deliberately segregate land uses by district to protect less-intense land uses from those with greater adverse impacts. This type of zoning is named “Euclidean” after the Village of Euclid, Ohio, whose regulations were upheld in a landmark US Supreme Court case from 1926. While lists of allowed uses are the primary organizing feature of traditional zoning codes, bulk, height, and other dimensional standards further limit development within specific geographic areas (zoning districts). Advantages of a traditional zoning framework are that they have decades of established legal standing and are generally well-understood by the public because they describe what is and what is not allowed, and where. Conversely, some claim that traditional zoning binds local governments by offering less flexibility than other systems. Traditional, use-based ordinances also are sometimes criticized for merely listing on what the community wants to prohibit, rather than illustrating what is encouraged. We consider the current Denton development regulations to be mostly a traditional or “Euclidean” zoning system.
Performance zoning uses points or other incentives to encourage applicants to provide more benefits to the community. In these cases, development is controlled by the impacts of the development on the environment and adjacent properties rather than the specific land use. The benefit of performance zoning is that it rewards sound planning practices with additional flexibility; however, performance zoning can lead to unpredictable results, and typically requires more time to administer than other zoning approaches due to the case-by-case nature of development review.
Negotiated zoning includes procedures such as conditional zoning or “Planned Unit Developments,” where an applicant often provides greater benefit through a development in exchange for relaxed provisions. Negotiated zoning is usually applied to large, complex, or multi-phase projects that are not otherwise adequately accommodated by base zoning districts. Advantages of PUDs and other negotiated zoning systems include their ability to accommodate new concepts not currently contemplated by an existing set of regulations and offering flexibility in terms of approvals and design. However, many communities have relied so heavily on PUDs that the development patterns suffer from a lack of connectivity and/or unified approach to development standards. They can also be staff-intensive in terms of review times and long-term administration and maintenance.
Form-based codes are intended to allow communities to calibrate future development based on an existing or desired context. Each context has a prescribed form including standards ranging from streetscape and road layout to building type and parking standards. Form-based codes are intended to offer great flexibility in terms of land use, assuming the built environment conforms to the desired palette. Advocates of form-based codes tout their ability to allow the market to dictate urban form and to develop a more walkable environment regardless of the land use. Form-based codes also typically contain more graphics than other codes, making them more user-friendly and easier to understand complex provisions. Critics of form-based codes note that claim that the ease of use can come at a cost, since true form-based codes are typically more resource-intensive to develop than other types of codes. They also contend that a high-level of training is required prior to adoption of such provisions, and that strict form controls limit flexibility.
Hybrid codes are literally a mixture of more than one type of the above zoning approaches. Most hybrid codes include components of traditional use-based zoning, while establishing other flexible procedures and design standards to accommodate a wide range of development products. Increasingly, all types of codes include extensive graphics, not just form-based codes. The Denton development regulations could technically be classified as a hybrid because of the procedures for negotiated zoning (PUDs) and some architectural and site design standards.
Unified Development Ordinances
A Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is more about the organization of the document rather than its own unique type of zoning approach. A UDO typically refers to a set of development regulations that includes not only zoning provisions, but also other ordinances affecting land development. For Denton, this might include the zoning regulations, the subdivision regulations, and potentially other ordinances such as public improvements, street standards, or other relevant provisions as determined by the City Council. The idea is that a UDO provides a “one-stop-shop” for the development community.