TOD Zoning Updates Translate Planning Goals into Policy
January 17, 2018
By Brian Hacker, AICP
This year the RTA is celebrating the 20th anniversary of our Community Planning program. Since 1998, we have been working with local partners to plan for transit-oriented development (TOD) around Northeast Illinois’ region by offering funding and assistance through this program. Over the years, we’ve learned the important lesson that the end of a planning project marks the beginning of an even greater challenge: the effort to turn that plan’s vision into reality.
To create the type of walkable, mixed-use environment that is at the core of TOD planning, communities must align their local land use regulations with their planning goals. To help with this vital step in the implementation process, the RTA began assisting communities with updates to their zoning codes in 2011. Communities that are awarded funding for TOD Zoning Updates receive assistance to rewrite their land use regulations for transit-served areas in a manner that supports the vision established in their TOD plans. To better describe these projects and the benefits they offer for our community partners, we’ve posted a new story map (a unique web format that combines maps, graphics and narrative) to our Community Planning Implementation webpage.
By creating more user-friendly regulatory documents that clearly outline all development standards, requirements, and guidelines, TOD Zoning Updates make the local development processes easier for both developers and local government staff. The Village of Brookfield, which updated zoning for its Metra station areas with help from the RTA in 2016, is already seeing the benefit of simplifying their zoning regulations and approval process. In response to its new TOD zoning, a developer who is working on multiple residential projects in the Village commented: “it's just so pro-development that I don't know why I would go somewhere else and struggle through an approval process.”
[caption id="attachment_4501" align="alignnone" width="1950"] A graphic from Brookfield’s TOD zoning project[/caption]
To promote walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods, TOD zoning regulations address a range of topics that include land use, architectural design, transportation and parking. As opposed to traditional zoning codes, TOD zoning takes a broader approach that focuses on neighborhood form over single-lot characteristics. Additionally, TOD zoning documents prioritize graphics over text descriptions to clearly illustrate how regulations translate into desired development outcomes.
Beyond promoting community planning goals, transit-supportive local policies benefit our region as a whole by supporting personal mobility, economic growth and desirable neighborhoods. See the map below for the 19 communities that have received funding from the RTA for TOD Zoning Updates and visit our Implementation webpage for other examples of the RTA’s efforts to promote TOD.
[caption id="attachment_4502" align="alignnone" width="831"] Map of funded TOD Zoning Update projects[/caption]
Brian joined the Regional Transportation Authority as Senior Planner in 2016. He is actively involved in transit-oriented development planning and implementation efforts throughout the RTA’s six-county service area, overseeing the Access to Transit program and managing projects for the Community Planning program. In his work, Brian is inspired by the equitable nature of public transit and believes that better access to transit is vital to improving personal mobility and quality-of-life for residents of our region. Prior to joining the RTA, he served as a planner in Metra’s Long Range Planning Department for over three years. Brian received a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in Humanities from the University of Michigan.
Subscribe to our Newsletter
This month the RTA is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA transformed society and provided opportunities f...July 29, 2020
Do you or someone you know face transportation challenges? The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) wants to hear from you about transportation issues and...May 7, 2020
The RTA is launching a four-part webinar series in place of the Annual Planning Workshop due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The free, virtual sessions wil...April 17, 2020
We are excited to announce that the call for projects for the RTA Access to Transit Program is now open. The RTA launched the Access to Transit program in 2...March 13, 2020
Each year the RTA celebrates Women’s History Month in March to recognize the women who work at, and ride, CTA, Metra, and Pace every day. The celebration coi...March 8, 2020
We’d like to hear your thoughts about public transit! The RTA is sponsoring a system-wide customer satisfaction survey and would like your feedback about yo...March 2, 2020