Zoning is the DNA of a community: it controls how you live, shop, and work.
After nearly a century of many cities separating those uses, now, they’re going back to the future: trying to recreate an old way of life.
Streetsboro, Ohio is one such place.
Drive down its main commercial district and it has nearly every chain store you can imagine: A Walmart and a Target, a Lowes and a Home Depot.
Some call it sprawl. Streetsboro calls it economic development.
This six-lane strip of big box shopping centers has served this city well since its explosive growth started in the 1960s. It just doesn’t look like a traditional town.
The town center is an intersection with a grassy knoll on one side. But Jeff Pritchard is in charge of planning there now and he’s aiming for a future Streetsboro that would look very different.
These big box stores could eventually be replaced by attractive housing and shops. The way towns and cities used to be.
“A place where they can walk to a corner store, maybe live above a store, says Anthony Flint of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. “And, those kinds of things, that’s illegal in America today in so many of our communities."
Illegal because of zoning. In many cities and towns, zoning codes don’t allow living and working in the same place. And, when zoning spread across the country in the 1920s and 30s, that was considered a good thing.
“ You didn’t want to have a slaughter house next to a residential apartment,” Flint says.
But those issues aren’t as big a deal anymore.
As the Great Lakes region reinvents itself, there’s a growing feeling among planners and thinkers that much of the public wants to spend less time in their cars.