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Issues in Land Use Law & Zoning

Planned Unit Developments

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One type of development that planning commissioners are often required to evaluate is the planned unit development, typically referred to as a "PUD." The PUD allows for more flexible development practices than traditional "grid" zoning. Essentially, PUD zoning permits a developer to meet overall community density and land use goals without being bound by rigid requirements such as minimum lot standards and use categories.

For example, a community may require the same overall density within a residential PUD as that of the surrounding area. However, the community may allow development within the PUD to be massed or clustered so that the individual lots are smaller but more open space is preserved than would occur under traditional zoning. The PUD concept can also be applied to encourage creative mixes of land uses, by permitting certain nonresidential uses (or a mix of different kinds of residences -- single and multi-family) in the development.

Probably the most popular form of PUD is the planned residential development or "PRD." PRDs are limited to only residential uses, so they do not provide for a mix of uses otherwise allowed under a PUD plan. However, like the PUD the PRD allows for much greater creativity and flexibility in design and layout.

The planned unit development concept has been used primarily for new subdivisions of vacant developable land. By allowing developers to depart from "cookie cutter" lot forms and set-back requirements, more creative use of open space and urban design is possible.

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