Friends at Last: Preservation and Zoning


  • How to identify challenges that exist in integrating zoning and preservation into a complementary process
  • Recent trends in zoning related to historic districts and recent trends in design in historic districts
  • Three different, workable methods of integrating zoning and preservation


What do you do when zoning conflicts with historic preservation? For years, preservation regulations have been stand-alone ordinances, with their own review processes/criteria for determining appropriateness. These function as overlays on top of base zoning, which sometimes contradicts preservation objectives. Today, communities are seeking ways to synchronize preservation regulations with zoning. Explore three innovative approaches to this goal. In re:Code LA, Los Angeles is developing a new code with tools that support preservation and neighborhood character. Base zoning introduces regulations to promote better massing of new buildings in established neighborhoods. One conservation-district type adds prescriptive standards tailored to specific contexts and a second adds a simplified form of staff design review using guidelines. In Fort Worth, Texas, a new form-based code for the historic Stockyards area embeds a local historic district with its preservation design guidelines into the code itself. This may be the first code in the country to take this integrated approach. In Roswell, Georgia, this Atlanta suburb adopted a city-wide form-based code, then developed design guidelines for each zone district and a special section for historic districts. Guidelines include cross-references to key zoning provisions and illustrate how development can be compatible with historic context.