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Form Based Zoning

About Form-Based Code (FBC) Zoning

City of Chattanooga - Code of Ordinance/ Chapter 38 - ZONING / ARTICLE XVI. - DOWNTOWN FORM BASED CODE

There are two types of zoning found in the City of Chattanooga. One is the Euclidean zoning that is found in the majority of the City Limits. The Form-Based Code (FBC) "Downtown Code" zoning zones and standards were developed to promote urban development form that aligns with the vision and policies set forth by the Downtown, ML King, Southside, and North Shore plans. These plans define a vision for growth that is urban, mixed-use, walkable, neighborhood-friendly and contributes to a high-quality public realm.

Chattanooga's Euclidean zoning districts provide very limited options for urban development. This Downtown Code provides a set of zones and standards that are intended to be applied in several defined "Context Areas" (Sec. 38-693.) where planning policy has defined a clear direction for urban development. For more information pertaining to the Euclidean zoning found in the remainder of the City Limits please go to our Zoning page here.

Important Dates

The FBC zoning was adopted on June 21, 2016, and became effective on July 5, 2016. The final cut-off date for old zoning submissions was December 5, 2016. The FBC zoning has been amended three times: May 1, 2018, December 17, 2019, and September 15, 2020. 


Form-Based Code Zoning Document

The Form-Based Code document, CLICK HERE, including the updates from Ordinance NO.13592 and Ordinance NO. 13520. 


Meeting Information - FBC Committee  (FBCC)

The next Form-Based Code Committee Meeting will be online via ZOOM on April 8, 2021, at 2PM.  The application deadline for this meeting is March 12 at 4pm. All final application materials and the application must be submitted before the deadline. 

For the ZOOM Meeting:

To join the meeting, please do the following:

When: April 8, 2021 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Form-Based Code Committee Meeting

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you have any trouble, please email or call the staff.

Zoom Meeting Community Comment Rules and Procedures: HERE.

Send all emailed community comments to Form-Based Code Staff at least 24 hours prior to the 2:00 p.m. meeting. Any comments received less than 24 hours to the meeting, may not be able to be placed into the presentation and incorporated into the meeting.


Other FBC Committee Meeting Information & Application Deadlines

FBC Committee ZOOM Meeting Recordings & Meeting Materials

Presentation updated 12/10/2020 with community comments and Case FBC-20-18 at 1401 Broad Street was Deferred to a later meeting.


Form-Based Code Staff

Sarah Robbins, Development Review Planner

Levi Witt, Administrative Support Assistant 2


FBC Context Areas

1. Northshore
2. Riverfront
3. City Center
4. Martin Luther King
5. Southside
6. Westside (The Bend) Not reflected in the map below. The Context Areas map is to be updated.


Screen Shot 2017 10 18 at 10.10.32 AM

Researching Property Zoning

Instructions here.  These instructions will show you how to navigate Hamilton County GIS (HCGIS) to determine your property's zoning.

Rezoning Property

The Land Development Office is not involved with the rezoning of the property.  To rezone a property you will need to reach out to the Regional Planning Agency (RPA).  For more information, please visit their website, click here


Presubmittal Meetings & Project Consultations

Before submitting an application for Plan Review, an applicant must schedule a meeting with the FBC Development Review Planner to discuss the review procedures and applicable standards for approval. This meeting is not intended as an approval meeting, but to provide the applicant with an overview of the application requirements and to identify issues or opportunities relating to compliance with the requirements of this Downtown Code.

To set up a pre-submittal meeting please call the main Land Development Office phone number at 423.643.5800 and request a meeting. This pre-submittal meeting can act as an official FBC project consultation meeting.


Permit Submittal in the FBC Context Areas
When submitting an application for a Land Disturbance and a Building permit, the following documents may be required. 
  • Plan Review Check List
  • Submission Checklist
  • Site Plan and Building Elevations
  • Required Specifications: Window, Lighting, Sign or Planting (when applicable)
  • Proof of a "Lot of Record"
  • Pictures or Renderings
  • Sign-in Sheet from the Neighborhood meeting (if it is required) 


FBC Plan Review Process
This process chart does NOT cover every situation, so please call staff with specific process or procedure questions.

Screen Shot 2017 10 20 at 9.10.49 AM



Neighborhood Input Meeting

Before submitting an application for Plan Review, an applicant must meet with the Neighborhood Association (listed with the Economic and Community Development Department), except that the following are exempt:

a. Residential development with less than 5 units;
b. Nonresidential development less than 4,000 square feet; or
c. Any development activity that is not within an existing neighborhood association boundary or within 300 feet of the neighborhood association boundary; or
d. Interior build-outs with no change to the exterior facade, windows, or fenestration. 

Click Here for instructions or go to https://pwgis.chattanooga.gov/portal/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=039250db644b4050b18f835ed20b4280

Neighborhood Association Directory: HERE.

If you are required to have a Neighborhood Association Input Meeting, please click here to know which procedure you should follow when notifying the neighborhood and Council member of the meeting and what to bring to it.


FBC Modification Applications

Major Modification Application - If your modification request must be heard before the Committee.  The application fee is $150.00.  This is nonrefundable.  

Minor Modification Application - Issued by FBC Staff. The application fee is $25.00.  This is nonrefundable. See the FBC document for elements that are allowed to be staff reviewed. 

All LDO applications are now located online, in the Viewpoint Cloud portal. Create a login, locate the modification application in the Zoning & Signs folder, and complete the modification application. 


Form-Based Code Committee - Role and Responsibilities

The Form-Based Code Committee is responsible for reviewing major modification requests that do not qualify for staff approval and to review appeals of staff decisions/ interpretations.

The standards established in this Downtown Code are intended to achieve the following principles:

  1. Maintain a safe, walkable, and attractive urban environment along the street;
  2. Maximize opportunities for redevelopment and investment in the Downtown Core;
  3. Provide a diversity of housing options;
  4. Promote development that will support transit and commercial services the community desires;
  5. Protect established single-family residential areas from incompatible development;
  6. Protect the integrity of established Historic Districts and significant historic/civic landmarks;
  7. Balance development opportunity and conservation along the riverfront by promoting development scale/form that maintains public accessibility to the river and considers public/private benefits of scenic views along the river;
  8. Consider impacts of topography, both in terms of the reasonableness of the standard when applied to a particular site and the potential impacts on adjoining properties;
  9. Increase the tree canopy; and
  10. Support adopted plan policies and recommendations.

However, specific site features (topographic changes, lot size or irregular dimension, physical barriers or easements) may create conditions that make compliance with a specific standard impractical or undesirable. It is also recognized that alternative design solutions may achieve the principles stated above but may not comply with a specific standard.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to meet the burden of clearly demonstrating the reason for the requested code exception and to provide sufficient documentation to illustrate how the modification is related to a site constraint and/or how the modification would equal or exceed the existing standard in terms of achieving the principles stated above.

For more information about the Major Modification process and procedures, see the Form-Based Code Document Sec. 38-695. Code Administration (4) Code Modifications.

The Form-Based Code Committee members must have a professional background/ or personal experience working, building, designing, or living in urban places. The committee will be composed of nine (9) rotating members set forth as follows: Commission Membership:

  • 3 Architect/Urban Designer/Landscape Architect.
  • 3 Developer/Realtor/Banker/Civil Engineer/ Contractor.
  • 3 Property Owner/Resident/Business Owner.

Each City Council representative whose district is located in the Form-Based Code Area must submit up to three (3) candidates that meet the qualifications noted above for a vacant position on the Form-Based Code Committee. The Mayor will select the candidate or request additional names from the affected Council Member before submitting the selection to City Council for final approval.

For more information about the Form-Based Code Committee Membership Terms and procedures, please see City Code Sec. 38-695. Code Administration (5) Form-Based Code Committee.

Click here to view current membership and to check for opportunities to serve on this Commission.



Dottie Brewer