Form-based vs Use-based code Example 1

[We’re going to look at a circumstance in neighboring Antioch IL as an opportunity to learn why using the CORRECT “Code” for planning and building a village is so important!]

If you’ve lived in this area for any amount of time, you’ve been north of Round Lake Beach a few miles and made it up to/through Antioch. Fairly simple layout, with a nice traditional “downtown” all of a block long, with mixed residential and commercial all around, gradually building-up the closer one gets to the center of the village.

[Photo Credit: Google Street View]

[Photo Credit: Google Street View]

Some challenges/opportunities as well, depending on how they’re handled… things like a railroad line through the village (same as us), and a lake to deal with (same as us).

Should you wander behind “Main Street” to the west, you’ll quickly find your old friend: “sprawl” (photo below). Big-ol’ parking lots, single-story jiffy-built shopping center with a lifespan of only a few decades (compared to a century or more for the downtown structures).

Even though the Antioch Shopping Center is right across the road in two directions from residential areas, it makes no effort to invite pedestrians with safe sidewalks, to function on a “human scale”, to be multi-purpose or multi-user, to integrate in the environment, use the vertical dimension…nada. Completely out-of-character with the rest of the area. Basically it’s a shopping center just “plonked” down in the heart of the village (very much like what we had happen here in RLB, except ours is much larger).

Click on the image to see the sprawl even bigger!

Click on the image to see the sprawl even bigger!

It becomes even more apparent when you view the area from above. You can look to the far-right of the photo to see the varied, multi-story structures, useable sidewalks, on-street parking to buffer pedestrians from traffic, etc., along Main Street for comparison:

It's easy to see where the cars should go... but what is there for people to do here BESIDES spend money?

It’s easy to see where the cars should go… but what is there for people to do here BESIDES spend money?

So why do we mention all that, and what does that have to do with Round Lake Beach?

The folks in Antioch have known for some time now that this dichotomy was not a good “fit” for their village in the long-run, so they partnered with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning-CMAP (which is the official IL state entity dealing with land-use and transportation issues for Chicago AND the counties surrounding it).

Over the last few years, all the “stake-holders” have been providing input towards creating a new plan to bring Antioch and its environs more in line with both common sense and the emerging realities of the 21st century (which isn’t quite what we expected it to be).

The “Village of Antioch Lifestyle Corridor Plan” [.pdf / Adobe] is the end result. We’re not going into it in this post (we highly recommend that YOU do though) except to extract one teeny little part (Pages 50 and 52):

Concept Plan for Orchard Plaza in Antioch IL. [Image Credit: CMAP's "Lifestyle Corridor Plan" for Antioch IL]

Concept Plan for Orchard Plaza in Antioch IL. [Image Credit: CMAP’s “Lifestyle Corridor Plan” for Antioch IL]

This is the same space! A little more interesting perhaps? More multi-user? Provides greater connectivity in that part of the village? More tax-paying businesses with less parking lot to pave and plow (and process storm-water runoff from)? With places to sit and gather and meet and greet and talk and eat (basically reasons to STAY)? Shade, landscaping, and multi-story structures forming natural outdoor “rooms” on a “human scale”? A rousing “YES!” to all of them.

It gets better: since this area is within a half-mile of the Antioch Metra station, it’s a “no brainer” to add some residential density, for Antiochians (Antiochites? Antiochers?) who can easily walk or bike to the Metra station, benefitting from a planning concept called “Transit Oriented Development”.

Well, one day, in the hopefully not TOO distant future, we (the residents, village officials, and our business and property owners) are going to realize (aka: “forced to acknowledge” for the stubborn ones) that the land under all of our asphalt and strip malls is producing only a meager return-on-investment (ROI), and that all those acres are meanwhile producing or offering NONE of the other benefits of a more traditional-format market place/downtown… and that it will finally be time to do something about it.

This entry was posted in Bicycling, Community, Downtown, Planning, Seniors, Walkability. Bookmark the permalink.

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