Zoning for Small Urban Lots


  • Pros and cons of developing infill commercial and residential projects on small urban lots
  • The “do’s and don’ts” of preparing zoning policies addressing small urban lots
  • Urban design considerations that should be addressed in writing zoning policies for small urban lots
  • The importance of neighborhood context in preparing zoning policies


Zoning ordinances need to address the challenges of small urban lots, including density, open space, and parking. Many existing zoning codes require small lot consolidation, even when it is not possible or context-sensitive. Additionally, many bulk and design standards intended for larger lots result in variances for existing conditions at small sites. Context-sensitive small lot zoning is needed to redevelop urban neighborhoods, make smart use of existing infrastructure, maintain noteworthy neighborhood fabric and character, and facilitate smart regional growth.

Explore case studies and lessons learned from cities that are actively addressing the redevelopment of small urban lots. Learn about different types of regulations that facilitate context-appropriate and functional construction and discuss those regulations that unfortunately can lead to unintended consequences. Topics include planning projects that addressed small lots in an urban New Jersey city, revitalization of a Jersey Shore community, context-based infill design regulations for a Northern Virginia city, and small lot redevelopment in Superstorm Sandy-impacted towns.