Flexible Zoning

What is Flexible Zoning?

Zoning that does not include levels of flexibility can unintentionally hinder the ability for seniors to age in community by driving up housing costs or limiting the construction of low-maintenance smaller homes and apartments. Restrictions on unrelated persons cohabitating can limit the ability of seniors to co-live. Building senior living arrangements close to medical, recreational, and retail amenities will help keep seniors connected and decrease costs related to medical transport. Senior living arrangements may require mixed-use zoning to accommodate non-residential uses such as medical and dining facilities. Allowing for a diversity of housing types, limiting unrelated person restrictions, and allowing for mixed-use zoning will ensure seniors have housing choices to remain in their homes or communities.

Approaches Met

Help seniors age-in-place

Zoning can permit uses such as ADUs and allow for retail and medical amenities to be built near residential uses, both of which can assist seniors to age in place.

Develop housing options for seniors to age-in-community

Zoning can allow diverse housing types that can meet seniors' changing needs.

Facilitate multigenerational and shared housing

Zoning changes can permit these types of housing arrangements.

Create a range of price options for housing

Allowing diverse housing types, especially smaller and shared units, can add affordably-priced housing options.

Make it Happen

Flexible Zoning in Practice

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Phoenixville has adopted a form-based zoning code that allows for flexibility in the housing types allowed in their various districts. Specifically the ordinance mandates existing development patterns and densities shall be used to guide/regulate new development. This allows for expansion and development of many missing-middle typologies throughout the Borough.

Denver, Colorado

Due to increasing housing prices and with the specific goal of allowing seniors to age in place, in 2018 the city formed an advisory group to evaluate the Denver Zoning Code's rules for household and co-living. The limit on the number of unrelated people who could cohabitate was identified as a key barrier to meeting the changing demographic needs of residents. The committee has since provided ordinance updates including consolidating all uses where care is provided into a single use type (Residential Care) and regulating by size, increasing the number of allowed unrelated people with rent-by-the-room uses permitted only in specific districts, and allowing a new Congregate Living use to allow for larger co-living housing types.

Buffalo, New York

The City of Buffalo removed parking minimums from their zoning in 2017. The change enabled new adaptive reuse and transit-oriented developments, these projects often shared parking and utilized public transportation options. Single-family homes continued to offer parking.

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