Featured Image Courtesy Zoning Map Winnipeg

Playing Well Together: Coordinating Specific Plans, Zoning Codes and Preservation Guidelines

What do you do when zoning conflicts with preservation guidelines for your historic district? For many years, preservation design guidelines have been stand-alone documents, with th­eir own review processes and criteria for determining appropriateness. They function as overlays on base zoning, which can contradict preservation principles. Today, communities seek to synchronize preservation guidelines with zoning. They are intrigued with Form Based Codes but concerned that they miss the finer-grained issues of historic districts. This session explores innovative approaches from across the country to integrating preservation guidelines with development codes and specific plans:
  • Los Angeles, CA: The draft zoning code for Los Angeles includes new zone districts that are more context-sensitive and offers two new categories of conservation districts.
  • Monterey, CA: Monterey recently embedded preservation guidelines for its downtown historic districts into its specific Plan. The guidelines are integral to the plan, but written so the review board can use them independently.
  • Fort Worth, TX: The city recently adopted a form-based code for an area that includes a historic district. Preservation design guidelines are embedded into the code itself. This is the first in the country to take this completely integrated approach.
  • Roswell, GA: This Atlanta suburb adopted a citywide Form Based Code and design guidelines that match the zone districts and include a special section for historic resources.

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn some of the ways in which distinct zoning and preservation regulations can contradict each other and lead to counterproductive results.
  2. Discover how three metropolitan communities have sought to integrate zoning and preservation to resolve these issues.
  3. Understand how these approaches might be applied to other communities.
  4. Establish why certain approaches may have proved less successful than others.


  1. Nore’ Winter, Boulder, CO
  2. Lee Einsweiler, Austin, TX
  3. Elizabeth Caraker, Monterey, CA