Form Based Code is a form of zoning that would be an alternative to existing building design guidelines and conventional zoning, particularly in the city’s entrance corridors. Form-based code focuses on the physical form of a building as opposed to the separation of uses (e.g. the land use designations of commercial or residential) as the basis for deciding what is appropriate in a given location.
Form-based codes allow a community to specify building mass, scale, detailing and public space standards up front for developers. Form-based codes can streamline what can otherwise be a protracted review process with discretionary reviews by staff and appointed officials (e.g. Board of Architectural Review).
Advocates of form-based codes believe they would clarify building requirements up front for developers and help ensure that building designs meet community expectations. By following the codes, developers would encounter a technical check list for their proposals as opposed to a negotiated design review.
Key events for Form-Based Codes in Albemarle County
Key events for Form-Based Codes in Charlottesville
In August 2013, the city’s PLACE Design Task Force recommended City Council consider adopting “form-based codes linked to street standards and stream-lined, expedited site plan review and approval; and best practices in community engagement and visioning.” Download report
In October 2013, Alexandria-based firm Rhodeside & Harwell began a “$340,000 comprehensive study of public infrastructure on and around West Main Street…to suggest possible changes to that corridor’s zoning in the wake of several high-profile developments.”
In mid-2014 when the final appearance of the Flats at West Village on West Main Street didn’t match up to design renderings presented to City Council in late 2012, it sparked a review of the city’s existing zoning and design guidelines.
In March 2015, consultant Code Studio presented draft form-based code recommendations for West Main Street.
In May 2015 city council discussed the benefits of form-based codes in the context of development on West Main Street.
In March 2016, City Council approved the conceptual plan for the West Main Streetscape.
In May 2016, Charlottesville officials recommended form-based codes be developed in a phased process for the city’s Strategic Investment Area.
In September 2016, the Urban Land Institute sponsored a seminar on how Nashville adopted a form-based code. 
- Web. Council wants more public input on streets review, delays on whether to hire consultant, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, 4 Nov. 2014, retrieved 28 Aug. 2016.
- Web. West Main: Shared street, more green space, or a boulevard?, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, 22 Feb. 2014, retrieved 28 Aug. 2016.
- Web. New apartment building raises questions about development process, Reuben Jones, Charlottesville Tomorrow, 24 Aug. 2014, retrieved 28 Aug. 2016.
- Web. Council wants more time to decide on West Main rezoning, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, 24 May 2015, retrieved 28 Aug. 2016.
- Web. Council chooses path for West Main streetscape, partially approves rezoning, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, 22 Mar. 2016, retrieved 28 Aug. 2016.
- Web. City Council, Planning Commission encourage form-based code for Strategic Investment Area, Tim Dodson, Charlottesville Tomorrow, 27 May 2016, retrieved 28 Aug. 2016.
- Web. Planner describes how “form-based” zoning changed Nashville, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, September 21, 2016, retrieved January 11, 2017.
- Form Based Codes Institute
- Charlottesville South Downtown (SIA-Phase 1A) Form-Based Code, DPZ Partners. March 28, 2019, revision v3.
- Charlottesville SIA Density, Parking, and Character Study, DPZ Partners. February 11, 2019.