Form-Based Code


What is the tool?

Form Based CodeThe Form Based Code Template is a tool to help facilitate the establishment of a form based code ordinance. Form based code is an emerging ordinance type that, unlike traditional zoning, emphasizes physical form to regulate and guide development and implement the vision for a place.

Form based codes specify design for places and centers through a comprehensive process that relies on local decision making, and allows for uses to adapt based on demand. Form based code sets a design standard rather than a minimum requirement and encourages active, vibrant communities that are both highly functional and aesthetically pleasing.

This tool is a template to guide the creation of form based code. It is ready for calibration to any community. The template was designed with the intention to simplify the creation and implementation of a form based code.


  • Introduction
  • Template
  • Workbook

What is the objective?

The Form Based Code Template provides a template ready to be calibrated to fit the needs and vision of individual communities, centers, or corridors. It guides communities through a step by step process through the use of the Workbook.

Who would benefit?

  • Communities looking to enhance or re-imagine their centers and corridors
  • Municipalities seeking to update their current zoning regulations in a way that can be implemented clearly and consistently
  • Municipalities looking to establish a neighborhood standard


  • Simplifies the process of creating and adopting a form based code for a municipality
  • Provides support to communities interested in implementing their vision
  • Exemplifies a complete, highly illustrative form based code process based on local decisions
  • Sets the stage for a self guided, comprehensive approach to zoning code development

What does the tool require?

The tool is free to access. There are two possible methods to use this tool: the digitally interactive use of Adobe InDesign, or calibration through the Portable Document Format (pdf.) Internet access is required to download using either of these methods.

Achievable Outcome

  • Confidence that the code was developed in the most complete and thorough manner available
  • A complete zoning code that upholds design and function standards, encourages economic development, and reduces the traditional emphasis on land uses
  • A simple implementation process that promotes permitted uses and outlines a streamlined criteria for plan reviews
  • A customized, place-specific code that represents the community vision
  • Predictable, consistent developments that consistently uphold the vision of the community and positively influence the local economy through time and market changes

pdfView an example of a code calibrated and adopted based off of the template form based code

Form-Based Code Benefits

Form-Based Codes can benefit a community in a wide variety of ways, from increased economic value to easier development approvals.

Template Form-Based Code Organization Chart

The Template Form-Based Code is made up of six primary sections designed interact with each other: Places Types, Districts, Uses, Building Types, Street Types, and Open Space Types.

Place Types

Eight Place Types were developed for the Wasatch Region based on characteristics like station context, land use, development pattern, and scale. The Place Types form the basis of the Template Code.

Building Types

Districts permit a mix of Uses and Building Types. Some Districts permit a fairly succinct set of Uses permitted within only a couple of Building Types, while other Districts are very flexible, permitting a wide range of Uses in a variety of different allowed Building Types.

Using the Manual & Template

The Utah Chapter of the American Planning Association and the Form-Based Code Advisory Committee have developed a manual and a template code with the help of a consultant, Farr Associates. This manual/template focuses on the types of centers and corridors identified in the Wasatch Choice for 2040 Vision. 


Download the complete Form-Based Code manual plus the source files to create your own.

Wasatch Choice for 2040 Visual Library

The assembled Wasatch Choice for 2040 Visual Library is an image gallery of best practices and development concepts of the Wasatch Choice for 2040. Images are categorized into  Place TypesStreet Types,Building Types, Open Space, LandscapingParking and Signs.  The images are designed to be context sensitive to the Wasatch Front and demonstrate what is possible through good design. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about Form-Based Codes (FBCs)? Review our list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Wasatch Choice 2050 Partners

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