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New zoning project will shape Buffalo's future

When I announced the launch of the Buffalo Green Code project in 2010, I tasked city planners and a nationally renowned consultant team with fast-forwarding Buffalo's regulatory framework into the 21st century. This sweeping project is now heading into its final stretch, with a new zoning code being written that will shape development in every neighborhood of the city.

This week the city's planning team is unveiling a preview of this new zoning code at a series of neighborhood open houses starting today and running through Saturday. This code promises to streamline approvals, bring clarity to residents, business owners and investors alike, and tap into Buffalo's competitive advantages.

Buffalo last updated its zoning code in 1953, the year Dwight Eisenhower began his presidency. To say the least, much has changed since 1953. The zoning code is antiquated, addressing such uses as livery stables, asbestos factories and coal pockets, tipples, and trestles. It is out of sync with today's development practices and lifestyle trends, and often stands in the way of quality investment and economic development.

A new zoning code will give citizens an opportunity to rethink the role these regulations play in the city's physical development. With the public's input, this project can finally align zoning regulations with the community's goals.

It will be a form-based code, which emphasizes neighborhood character as its basic organizing principle, rather than merely how land is used. Graphics, tables and simple text will be used so that standards are easy to understand and apply.

Thenewcodeaimstoachieveimportantgoals, including strengthening economic centers, attracting and retaining a talented work force through quality place-making, protecting and enhancing Buffalo's historic character, simplifying procedures to encourage investment, removing barriers to the reuse of vacant land and structures, emphasizing transportation choices and quality public spaces, and helping citizens drive fewer miles, use less energy, and improve the environment.

TheGreenCodewillhelpbuildanew foundation for Buffalo's economy. It is a place-based development strategy designed to help fix the basics, build on assets, invest strategically and embrace smart growth and sustainability. The Green Code will revolutionize the way Buffalo does business.

That's why it's important for residents across the city to attend these open houses and give their input. This project is literally rewriting Buffalo's "developmentDNA".Publicinvolvement is vital to the project's success and I ask that city residents actively participatein this historic opportunity to shape our city's future.

For more information about the new Zoning Code community open houses, visit


Byron W. Brown is mayor of Buffalo.