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Orange County

Planning for the Future: Orange County works on growth blueprint with Orange Code and Vision 2050


The County’s planned overhaul of its land development rules and regulations — known as Orange Code — emphasizes diverse housing options, sustainability and walkable spaces. It also commits to protecting rural and natural places.

The county's rewrite of its zoning ordinances accompanies its efforts to roll out a new comprehensive plan called Vision 2050, which will guide development patterns over the next 30 years.

Orange Code and Vision 2050 are both expected to go before the County Commission for approval in September. Before that occurs, the community is invited to participate in a series of town hall meetings throughout April and early May to learn more about the ordinance changes.

“We have heard everyone’s opinions about how we should grow in a much more sustainable way,” said Alberto Vargas, the County’s Planning Division manager, “and that we need to keep the natural environment pristine, ‘keep rural rural’ and retain the character of that lifestyle. We have heard a desire to preserve the character of our built-out neighborhoods. All of these aspects are part of the framework of Vision 2050.”

Vargas said Orange Code strives to steer future development toward the County’s busiest urban sectors. More than 40 percent of the County’s future population growth is expected to occur near downtown Orlando, the I-Drive tourism district, near Lake Nona, and areas around UCF.

“These areas will have to be transformative,” Vargas said. “The status quo of doing business as usual is no longer an option. Thriving, vibrant urban environments with open space and urban amenities, street trees and alternative modes of transportation, and safe crossings for pedestrians are also part of the framework of Vision 2050. This vision is very diverse, but it’s a vision for everyone.”

Orange Code will implement a form-based code. These codes focus on building placement and aesthetics, resulting in more attractive, walkable, and sustainable communities prioritizing pedestrians over automobiles.

Form-based codes have been adopted by more than 387 government jurisdictions nationwide. In 2010, Nashville, Tennessee, replaced its conventional zoning with a “community character” approach to policy based on the look and feel of neighborhoods, centers, corridors, and open spaces. The change has resulted in a 75 percent increase in taxable value in the districts where this approach is used, compared to a 28 percent increase in the county over the same period, according to a report by the city.

While the County’s land development rules have been tweaked through the years, Orange Code hasn’t been completely updated since it was first written in 1957.

“Even since the 1990s, growth trends have changed,” said Olan Hill, assistant manager of the County’s planning division. “We have taken on the characteristics of a major thriving urban area that our current comprehensive plan doesn’t fully reflect.”

Lately, amid a housing affordability crisis, County leaders have stated a desire to see more townhomes, duplexes, and triplexes. However, these products aren’t encouraged under the County’s current development code.

“Moving forward, we want a greater variety of housing choices,” Hill said. “This not only consists of single-family homes and apartments but also everything in between. Our current comprehensive plan and code don’t promote the mix of land uses and housing types needed to support our growing population. Vision 2050 and Orange Code will accommodate a broader and more affordable range of housing opportunities.”

Learn more about Orange Code here.

Learn more about Vision 2050 here.

A complete schedule of townhall meetings can be found here.

Orange County, Orange Code, Vision 2050, Growth Blueprint, How big will Orange County grown in the 30 years?


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