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Here are some of the most common questions we hear about the ZoneHartford project:

Zoning is the system through which all land use and development is regulated within the City. It is a legal instrument that regulates the use of land by its citizens through the implementation of zoning districts. Each district has specific rules that regulate:
  • Height & massing of buildings
  • Lot coverage versus open space
  • Population density
  • Building uses

Zoning plays a large part in determining patterns of land use and the location of future growth, and in this way, the City’s zoning regulations directly impact the quality of life for Hartford citizens.

Zoning affects every citizen, business owner, and stakeholder living and working within Hartford. You and those around you are affected by zoning when you want to do things such as:
  • Open a business
  • Expand a business
  • Put up a sign
  • Install a fence
  • Add an addition to your home
  • Change the use within a building (ex: from a hair salon to an office)

Chances are if you are not personally dealing with zoning regulations, one of your neighbors might be, so it is beneficial to understand the affects of zoning.

ZoneHartford is a project to update Hartford’s Zoning Regulations in order to provide predictable development outcomes in our neighborhoods and to simplify our zoning code and development procedures. The goals are to:
  • Simplify the regulations– making them more user friendly, using clearer language, charts, and diagrams to better explain processes and requirements
  • Support walkable development– by adjusting current zoning districts, and creating new districts where necessary, the City can promote pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development in proximity to transit and where people live
  • Protect neighborhood character – new regulations and the addition of design guidelines will help guide and improve the quality of Hartford’s built environment
  • Spur economic development- new regulations and changes to the current processes will make it easier for businesses and developers to open and develop with less red tape, saving everyone time and money

We mentioned that this project will focus on major transportation corridors. In recent years, planning strategies have focused on improving the pedestrian experience and transportation choices rather than continuing to give priority to automobiles. This means that new development should be planned in more effective ways– such as, in areas where there is access to public transit. For this project, the official study area corridors include:
  • Main Street
  • Albany Avenue
  • Blue Hills Avenue
  • Asylum Avenue
  • Farmington Avenue
  • New Britain Avenue
  • Park Street
  • Downtown

While funding for this project restricted the number of corridors within the City that could be included, the new regulations will take the entire city into consideration. More opportunities for growth and development are expected along the major transportation corridors and in areas close to public transportation. Other areas of the city such as stable, residential neighborhoods are likely to remain as they are. In fact, the new zoning will likely offer more protection to these areas from inappropriate new development. In most of these other areas, the only difference will be that development will be regulated with the new citywide form-based regulations.

Currently, Hartford primarily regulates development by land use. This separation of uses is and will continue to be important in the new regulations, but it offers little predictability about the building that gets constructed. Form-based zoning adds additional focus on the ultimate physical form of a building and how it relates to the street and adjacent buildings. This emphasis on “form is all about the shape, height, and location of a building on its lot, entrance locations, and parking locations. It also considers elements like transit access or historic characteristics and how these factors affect a building’s form.

Honestly, we can’t answer that question yet. A lot of information needs to be considered before proposing any changes to a zoning district. We want to make sure that any changes make sense for the well-being of our residents, businesses, and visitors. We also want you also have plenty of opportunities to participate in the process, whether you want something to change or want something to remain as it is. We’re holding an information session and public meetings asking for your input soon!

There will be public meetings and ways to submit questions, concerns, and ideas online. Check out our Participate! page for up-to-date meetings and information. Or, sign up to get email alerts at the bottom of this page.

We estimate that the whole project will take approximately two years to complete, including adoption of the new regulations.



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