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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 other zoning type is the  Form-Based Code (FBC) "downtown code" zoning. The FBC zones were developed with regulations and standards framed 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 contribute to a high-quality public realm.

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, includes the updates from Ord. No.13592, Ord. No. 13520, and Ord. No. 13685. This document does include the 6/15/2021 approved projecting sign code amendments.

  • Ordinance No. 13520 - Text amendments and addition of new Context Area (Westside - The Bend) and Associated Zones.
  • Ordinance No. 13592 - Text amendments resulting from the 2019/2020 annual review.
  • Ordinance No. 13685 - Text amendment clarifying the signs and projecting signs section.
  • New Dec. 2021 Ordinances to amend the FBC: 


Meeting Information, FBC Committee  (FBCC)

The next FBCC Meeting will be held at the Development Resource Center (DRC), Room 1A, at 1250 Market Street in downtown Chattanooga. Parking is behind the building and accessible by King Street.

The next application deadline is Friday, April 12, 2024, at 4pm, and those submissions will be presented at February 8, 2023, FBCC Meeting. All final application materials and the application must be submitted before the deadline. 

FBCC Meeting Public Comments:  If you cannot attend the meeting to give your comment in person, you may send a community comment email to Form-Based Code Staff at least 24 hours prior to the 2:00 p.m. meeting. List your name and property address of residence in the email. In the email, a written request for the email to be added to the meeting as a community comment is required for the comment to be included in the meeting as a community comment. Please be respectful in your comments as if you are at the meeting speaking to the committee. Any comments received less than 24 hours before the meeting, may not be able to be placed into the presentation and incorporated into the meeting. 



Form-Based Code Staff

Akosua Cook, Development Review Planner, 


Staff return calls as quickly as possible. For faster responses, please be sure to email the staff.


FBC Context Areas

1. Northshore
2. Riverfront
3. City Center
4. Martin Luther King
5. Southside
6. the Bend


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Researching Property Zoning

Instructions here.  These instructions will show you how to navigate Chattanooga GIS mapping to determine your property's zoning.   

Rezoning Property

The Land Development Office is not involved with the rezoning of properties. To rezone property, please contact the Regional Planning Agency (RPA).  Please visit their website here


FBC Project Consultation Meeting 

Before submitting an application for plan review and permitting, an applicant is required to schedule a project consultation 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. Please contact the FBC Planner directly to schedule this meeting. 

LDO Presubmittal Meetings

To set up an LDO pre-submittal meeting please email or call the main Land Development Office phone number at 423.643.5884 and request a meeting. A pre-submittal meeting must occur after the FBC project consultation meeting has occurred. 


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 Checklist
  • Submission Checklist
  • Site Plan
  • Building Elevations
  • Required Specifications: Window, Lighting, Sign, or Planting (when applicable)
  • Stamped Site Survey
  • Sign-in Sheet from the Neighborhood meeting (if it is required) 



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. 



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

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Neighborhood Input Meeting

Before submitting an application for Plan Review, an applicant must meet with the Neighborhood Association (listed with the Neighborhood Services 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. 


Go to the City's Neighborhood Services website, here, for the full directory of neighborhood associations. Check through the Neighborhood Association Directory for the current full list of neighborhood associations within the area. The Department of Neighborhood Services and Development maintains the directory of registered neighborhood associations. 

Neighborhood Association FBC Informational Meeting Guide: If a Neighborhood Association Input Meeting is required, please click here to find out: the meeting procedures for notifying the neighborhood and Council member, and what to bring to the meeting. The meeting can be in person or online. 


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 the current membership and to check for opportunities to serve on this Commission.



Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea