Masonry Planning Policy Methods Overview

Managing design through the use of brick and masonry in specific districts and land uses is becoming a popular method to ensure smart growth, stimulate the local economy, preserve property values, and lend to sustainable development. Planners interested in using brick and masonry to enhance the quality of life principles have a variety of options available to them including building codes and zoning ordinances, overlay districts, design guidelines, planned unit developments, form based codes, and incentive based design policies. 

Just as each community is unique, planners can be unique in the methods they use to manage their design. Some communities implement a combination of planning policies to manage design with brick and masonry. The following descriptions can help you determine the best type of policy for your community. 

Building Codes and Zoning Ordinances
(Sample Building Codes, Fire Codes, and Zoning Ordinances)

Because brick and masonry are fireproof materials that lend to superior construction quality and durability, communities often require brick and masonry cladding for new construction in fire and building codes. Because of the aesthetic qualities of brick and masonry, these codes indirectly manage design by requiring aesthetically appealing structures that are built to ensure the life safety of citizens.

Zoning ordinances that require a specific percentage of masonry ensure a standard of good design throughout specified land uses. These ordinances set a clear minimum requirement for all developers creating a level playing field for builders. 

Masonry Planning Policies in building codes and zoning ordinances are easily enforced and still allow communities to negotiate architecture or apply design guidelines to specific corridors or land uses.

Overlay Districts
(Sample Overlay Districts) 

Overlay districts allow communities to require or omit certain zoning restrictions from a defined geographic area in a community. Communities may, for example, apply an overlay district requiring a specific amount of brick and masonry. Overlay districts are valuable tools to implement masonry planning policies when it is not feasible to adopt a community-wide masonry planning policy. Overlay districts can also be useful tools when communities desire specific corridors adhere to higher architectural standards than similarly zoned areas within the community.

Design Guidelines
(Sample Design Guidelines) 

Design Guidelines are discretionary regulations that determine appearance of land development. Design guidelines are most commonly used in distinct areas of communities such as downtowns or historic districts. While brick and masonry requirements play an important role in design guidelines, this tool is most commonly implemented when a community is concerned with architectural elements beyond exterior cladding materials.

Planned Unit Developments
(Sample Planned Unit Development Policies)   

A Planned Unit Development (PUD) encourages creativity in design of development on a small scale. The flexibility of a PUD allows planners to make insert requirements in a development not otherwise required by code such as requiring brick and masonry on all homes and businesses built in the PUD. Likewise, PUDs allow for variations in the code such as setbacks or lot size in exchange for the inclusion of requirements such as architectural standards.

Form Based Codes

Form based codes are rapidly becoming one of the most popular means of managing design. Form based codes allow communities to accept higher densities or intensity of development in order to achieve a recognized "form of development. These "forms of development often include architectural qualities such as brick and masonry construction. Form based codes are created with flexibility of the "form in mind allowing varying degrees of intensity or flexibility in development in exchange for a corresponding degree of the "form.

Incentive Based Design 

Incentive based design includes a number of methods communities can use to encourage the use of brick and masonry. Revolving loan façade improvement programs, historic tax credits, Business Improvement Districts, and tax incentive programs are all examples of incentive programs communities can employ to maximize brick and masonry use in their community. Urban Renewal Authorities, Downtown Development Authorities, and Certified Local Governments also have access to unique tools to mange design and can create incentive based design programs based on their individual authorities.