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The short answer is that site plan review makes for better development. It is a way to ensure that development proposals meet development policies and regulations as well as commonly accepted design practices within a community. It allows the community to look at elements above and beyond those established by the zoning ordinance.
Zoning regulations create the three-dimensional building envelope and set basic site layout standards. But by their nature, these regulations cannot be site specific — instead, they establish general regulations for every parcel within a particular district. Site plan review allows a community to look at the specific location of the use or structure; the layout of the site, including pedestrian and auto circulation; and the materials used throughout the development.
This issue of Zoning Practice discusses basic guidelines for site plan review and highlights how the review process has evolved in response to the increased attention now paid to building form and scale in development regulations.
About the Authors
Leslie Pollock, FAICP
Arista Strungys, FAICP
Arista Strungys, AICP, is a Principal at Camiros, Ltd. Her area of expertise is zoning and development regulations, and she has worked with communities across the country of all sizes in drafting development regulations. She is experienced in all types of regulatory techniques, including traditional controls, place-based zoning, form-based coding, design guidelines, and sustainable development.