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City Offers Preview of the New Zoning Ordinance

The Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning unveiled a preview of the new zoning ordinance this morning. A series of Green Code neighborhood open houses starts tonight at Lafayette High School at 6 pm to discuss emerging details about the new form-based code, which is being written to build upon smart growth and sustainability principles.

The report, A Preview of Buffalo’s New Zoning, is available here. According to the report, “Today, land use regulations in Buffalo are difficult to understand, reflect views that are out of touch with current lifestyle and development trends, and often stand in the way of quality investment. Buffalo’s zoning ordinance dates back to 1953, its urban renewal plans as far back as 1957, and its subdivision ordinance back to 1974. They’re long (a staggering 1,804 pages). They often contradict each other. They do not embrace a contemporary vision for the city’s future. These outmoded regulations will soon be removed and replaced by a single, user-friedntly document that combines related regulations so they’re easy to understand and enforce. It will embrace Buffalo’s walkable, green neighborhoods. It will give Buffalo an advantage in attracting jobs, investment, and talent.”

The 30-page report gives an overview of key topic areas in the ordinance: its new zones; a table of permitted uses; building types and frontages; and approval procedures. These are being presented to start a community conversation about how the Green Code can help realize a shared vision for future development. See some examples taken from the full text below, more details and input opportunities will be available starting tonight and running through Saturday. Here’s the schedule of Green Code open houses:

– WEST: Mon., June 4, 6 pm, Lafayette High School, 370 Lafayette Ave.
– NORTHWEST: Tues., June 5, 6 pm, Riverside High School, 51 Ontario St.
– SOUTH: Tues., June 5, 6 pm, South Park High School, 150 Southside Pkwy.
– ELLICOTT: Wed., June 6, 6 pm, Montessori School, 342 Clinton St.
– NORTHEAST: Wed., June 6, 6 pm, Bennett High School, 2885 Main St.  
– NORTH: Thurs., June 7, 6 pm, North Park Academy, 780 Parkside Ave.
– CENTRAL: Fri., June 8, 8 am; or Noon, Central Library, Lafayette Sq.
– MASTEN/E. DELAVAN: Sat., June 9, 9 am, East High School, 820 Northampton St.
– EAST: Sat., June 9th, 1 pm, Matt Urban Center, 1081 Broadway

The Buffalo Green Code is the most ambitious planning effort the city has undertaken in decades. If it is truly guided by input from the community, the community must show up and give its take. Be sure to be at any one of the open houses this week. For more information on the zoning rewrite, visit the project website at

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