Details of city’s form-based code come under fire

BRADENTON -- Should a land development code legislate taste?

That was the question posed Wednesday to consultants presenting the second draft of a form-based code designed to change the way the city looks and how it serves residents.

When the consultants, led by Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning of Coral Gables, got to a slide showing fake shutters, which would not be permitted under the code, one resident wondered if the new rules go too far.

“I’m just amazed I couldn’t use my property the way I want to,” said Bradenton attorney Caleb Grimes, who represents several prominent developers.

Another resident asked if mandating architectural standards might make it harder for builders to provide affordable housing.

Andrew Georgiadis, Dover, Kohl’s project leader, said the code can still be changed.

“We’ve been trying to find a level of comfort and how restrictive the city wants us to be. ... This is helping us to know some don’t feel comfortable with the restrictions,” Georgiadis said.

But, he said, “inauthentic, clumsy detailing tends to scare away the more discerning buyer.”

A form-based code emphasizes the design of buildings as opposed to traditional zoning, which tends to focus on land use. The idea is to create a mixed-use downtown where people live, shop, work and play.

The code, if approved by city council, will cover the city’s three Community Redevelopment Areas and adjacent neighborhoods of Point Pleasant and Old Manatee Village.

Dover, Kohl will complete the second draft and have it posted on the city’s website, www.cityofbradenton.com, by next week. The consultants will return to present a third draft to the planning commission during a regular meeting at 2 p.m. March 16.

Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith questioned a change in the code that allows smaller lot sizes. He worried developers might buy older homes on large lots and tear them down to make way for several smaller homes.

“What we’re doing is encouraging the demolition of historic, or at least older, houses,” Smith said. “That doesn’t move us in the direction we want to go.”