Code Basics

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What is a Land Development Code?

The Orange Code will be the new Land Development Code for Orange County. A Land Development Code (LDC) is a regulating document that describes the ways in which new buildings and communities can develop. These codes specify a range of criteria from whether you can add an additional room to your home or business to how large tracts of land can be subdivided into homes, offices, and stores. Codes address requirements for a variety of physical attributes including streets, open spaces, parking, building sizes, and landscaping. These standards are intended to provide a high quality of life for residents as well as to address issues such as fire access, waste collection, and protection of water quality.

What is the difference between a Zoning Code and a Land Development Code?

Many people are familiar with the term “zoning” or “zoning code.” A Land Development Code includes the standards typically associated with a zoning code as well as additional standards related to land development that are sometimes excluded from zoning codes such as landscaping and sign regulations. Orange County’s current Land Development Code has nine chapters including a “Zoning” chapter.

What is a Comprehensive Plan?

The Comprehensive Plan outline a community’s goals for development and conservation and serve as a guide for shaping future commercial and residential land uses, housing, and conservation, as well as cultural and recreational amenities. The comprehensive plan also helps jurisdictions to coordinate multiple efforts such as infrastructure investment, economic development, housing, and schools over the long term, usually 20 years. Spanning everything from transportation to parks, Comprehensive Plans offer a community a way to organize their aspirations into an implementable plan. Florida law requires cities and counties to have a Comprehensive Plan and to review the plan at least every seven years. Orange County is in the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan in parallel with the Orange Code effort.

How is the LDC different from the Comprehensive Plan?

Land Development Codes and Comprehensive Plans are similar in that they both work toward achieving the goals for a community and its built environment. Land Development Codes focus on detailed rules that govern of how communities are built such as how far a building is from the sidewalk or how many trees are required in a parking lot. Comprehensive Plans are intended to provide bigger picture guidance on a community’s vision for the future and policies to implement that vision include where a community will encourage new housing and businesses to be built and how it will protect environmental assets.

What is a Form Based Code?

Historically, the Zoning regulations in Land Development Codes have focused primarily on regulating and separating land uses. Zoning codes were initially created to protect homes from odors and noise produces by factories and other noxious uses. Today’s zoning codes are often so restrictive that they also separate children’s homes from the neighborhood ice-cream shop and make it difficult to rebuild beloved small towns. More recently, Form-Based Codes have emerged which put a greater emphasis on compatibility of building forms to make it easier to for citizens to walk or bike to interesting destinations such as parks and stores rather than focusing only on separation. Form-based codes also use pictures and graphics to illustrative concepts making it easier for the public and developers to understand the vision and purpose of regulations.

For other terms and definitions see our FAQs.