We are now at a point where we can again welcome our consultants Dover Kohl &Partners, LLP to host workshops at the end of August and beginning of September to discuss the progress of creating form-based codes for areas of the City of Punta Gorda.

If you recall, the City Council engaged the services of Dover, Kohl & Partners to create the new code framework. The consultant was asked to pause work on the update to the Comprehensive Plan because a form-based code can translate the intent of the Comprehensive Plan, and help more clearly visualize the impact as it is translated into zoning law. This is because each specific area is defined by the physical characteristics of the development within it. Therefore, a form-based code is the natural and development implementation of the ideals that should be incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan. As a part of this work, the city has required that our consultants allow the community the opportunity to see the plan and to provide feedback as they move along in the process.

The 2019 Plan Punta Gorda Citywide Master Plan recommended the adoption of a Form-Based Code. This type of code focuses on the shape, including form and mass, that a building takes, and the types of public spaces it creates rather than just the uses of the property. This type of land development regulation offers predictable built results and improves the quality of the public realm. Adopting form-based codes is intended to bring more control to what development looks like in Punta Gorda.

Part of this work also includes a plan to manage the overlay districts downtown, of which there are several. Dover, Kohl & Partners, and Urban Design staff have taken on the challenge of examining the regulations in place for these districts, and evaluating their success in terms of how well they achieve their intended goals. From this, revisions to those overlay districts to enhance their effectiveness will be presented at the workshops.

Additional work will also include the establishment of architectural guidelines. A form-based code sometimes incorporates architectural guidelines to codify what a community wants to see as land is developed. This helps reduce the guesswork that a developer needs to do, fill any gaps in the regulations, and points development in a direction in which the community is happy.

The Draft Form-Based Code Presentation will take place from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, at the Charlotte Harbor Events Center Hibiscus Hall. You are invited to join the Dover, Kohl & Partners Consultant Team as they present the first draft of the new form-based code. This presentation will walk through the critical elements of the code and will also incorporate a dedicated time at the end for questions and answers.

Then on Wednesday, Sept. 1, a Draft Form-Based Code Open House will be held at the Laishley Marina Community Room. This offers residents the opportunity to understand the proposed code better and ask questions in a small group setting. Sessions will run from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., noon to 2 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Your participation is welcome to continue to preserve our small-town character while promoting diversity, economic development, and sustainability.

Readers may reach City Manager Greg Murray at citymgr@cityofpuntagordafl.com or by calling 941-5 75-3302.

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