New Neighborhood Code

What's the New Neighborhood Code?

The Town Board adopted the New Neighborhood Code in November 2020.

2014 Town of Ithaca Comprehensive Plan envisions compact, walkable mixed use neighborhoods in emerging growth areas close to major employers and activity hubs.  

The New Neighborhood Code is the next step in bringing the community's vision to life.  It's a form-based zoning and design code that serves as an instruction manual for planning and building great new neighborhoods  places that are an integral part of the Town, with a wide variety of housing choices; networks of interconnected, pedestrian friendly streets; main streets or village squares with shops and services; and parks and gathering places a short walk away.   

The New Neighborhood Code is user friendly, using plain English and colorful graphics to describe everything from how to lay out streets and blocks to putting up a fence.  It has a collaborative master planning process to ensure new neighborhoods are planned as a unified whole, not piecemeal.  It also allows those new neighborhoods to grow and evolve naturally over time.

The New Neighborhood Code offers an alternative to the Town's current development regulations, with tools that are better suited to building new complete neighborhoods.  The Town's current zoning and subdivision regulations will still apply in areas that will keep a more suburban or rural character.

1 November 2021: South Hill new neighborhood regulating plan

The South Hill Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) regulating plan will be the first project under the New Neighborhood Code.  Visit the South Hill TND page to learn more.

31 October 2021: the trick-or-treat test 🎃

Planners have a lot of rules of thumb, one of which is the trick-or-treat test; a neighborhood has good urban design if it's inviting for Halloween trick-or-treaters.  Places with walkable, safe, connected streets, and closely spaced homes that are welcoming to those walking by, pass the trick-or-treat test.  Specifically, places with these six traits:

1)  Lots of doors within a short walking distance, for more candy per mile.
2)  Doors you can find, which parents and passers by can easily see.
3)  Comfortable sidewalks, so kids don't have to walk in the street or trot across lawns between houses.
4)  Buildings fairly close to the sidewalk, which puts more eyes on the street, and makes for a more welcoming experience.  Also, again, less walking for more candy.
5)  Houses with front porches or stoops that serve as stages for showing off Halloween costumes.
6)  Well connected streets, so there's less backtracking, and less likelihood of getting lost.

Every year, hundreds of families in the Ithaca area take their kids to the Fall Creek neighborhood for trick-or-treating.  Why?  See 1 thorough 6 above.  The New Neighborhood Code was written to create the kinds of places that pass the trick-or-treat test in the same way, giving kids a safe and memorable hunting ground for Halloween candy.