Beaufort County, a coastal county with a population of about 137,000 near the southern tip of South Carolina, has hired a consultant to "streamline and synchronize" zoning laws — an effort that includes a multijurisdictional form-based code.
"With so many local governments warming to form-based code, an opportunity that would have seemed unthinkable at the height of municipal annexation wars just a few years ago is now imminent, according to Beaufort County planning director Tony Criscitiello. Municipalities and the county are working to streamline and synchronize their zoning laws. As part of that county-led effort, the county, Beaufort and Port Royal agreed to hire Opticos Design Inc. of Berkeley, Calif., to draft a multi-jurisdictional code for $500,000."
"When it is completed, Beaufort County's new code should look more like a picture book than a manual of plain, black text. Drawings will suggest the way buildings should look and where they should be placed in relation to other structures, streets, sidewalks and civic spaces.
"This is a break from Euclidean zoning long in use in many communities, which focuses first on how buildings are used and addresses density and aesthetics second, said Carol Wyant, executive director of the Form-Based Codes Institute based in Chicago.
"That's not to say form-based code would allow -- to use an extreme example -- an adult book store next to a church, Criscitiello said. Beaufort County's code will still contain rules about where certain businesses can go; they just won't be as rigid as current restrictions."