Orange Code is Orange County’s Zoning Code currently found in Chapter 38 of the Code of Ordinances. Orange Code regulates growth and development through form-based standards such as building heights and setbacks, buffering standards between uses, civic and open spaces, parking requirements, and more.

Growth, development, and societal trends have changed through the years, and Orange County must ensure its regulations are in line with these evolving patterns to best serve the needs and priorities of the community.

Orange County is also one of the fastest growing regions in the United States and should prepare for this growth in a smart and responsible way. By 2050, the County’s population is estimated to increase by 700,000, exceeding 2 million residents.

In conjunction with Orange Code, the County is also amending its state-required Comprehensive Plan, which is being renamed “Vision 2050.” This serves as a guide for growth and development for the next 25 years. Together, Vision 2050 and Orange Code help ensure a harmonious and sustainable development framework that directs growth to the right places and protects important rural lands and environmental assets.

Form-based codes focus on the physical nature and characteristics of buildings and public spaces, rather than land use separation and density. In addition to emphasizing the design and arrangement of buildings, streets, and open spaces, form-based codes promote mixed-use neighborhoods, pedestrian-friendly streets, and high-quality urban design. By focusing on building placement and aesthetics, form-based codes result in more attractive, walkable, and sustainable communities, where the pedestrian is prioritized over the automobile.

Miami, Florida, uses a form-based code. Other examples include Austin, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Nashville, Tennessee. In 2010, Nashville replaced its conventional zoning with a “Community Character” approach to policy that is based on the look and feel of neighborhoods, centers, corridors, and open spaces. The change has resulted in a 75% increase in taxable value in the districts where the approach is used, compared to a 28% increase in the county over the same period, according to a report by the city.

By eliminating standalone commercial districts and allowing more mixed-use districts, Orange County is promoting a greater variety of housing choices and walkable neighborhoods. While single-family neighborhoods will continue to play a role in our residential communities, Vision 2050 and Orange Code will provide a broader mix of housing types that range from single-family detached homes to attached multi-family residential areas. This includes townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, and live-work units that are commonly referred to as “missing middle” housing. The term refers to the fact these types of housing were common in cities and towns across the country through the 1950s but have largely disappeared today. Amid a housing affordability crisis, County leaders have stated a need for more missing middle housing as an alternative to single-family homes.

The Vision 2050 development framework includes a Sector Map that identifies six (6) distinct areas defined by their existing characteristics and development potential. These sectors address new or infill development, where development should be limited, and areas that should be protected or preserved. Targeted Sectors are located completely within the County’s Urban Service Area and are where most new development will be directed to within the 2050 planning horizon. Targeted Sector properties are generally located near existing or planned transit corridors, urban infrastructure, and services, and represent ideal places for mixed-use development and mixed income housing.

Only minimal changes to allowable land uses and development standards are proposed in established neighborhoods. Orange Code aims to protect established neighborhoods, and to bring improvements to neighborhoods by providing destinations in the surrounding areas that are accessible by walking, biking, and driving.

Public outreach will continue through the summer. In addition to the Town Hall meetings, residents are encouraged to follow the Vision 2050 and Orange Code website. Questions and comments can be submitted through a website portal.

Prior to the final adoption public hearing before the BCC on September 24, 2024, there will be five (5) public work sessions before the Local Planning Agency / Planning & Zoning Commission (LPA/PZC) and Board.

Transect zones are essentially form-based zoning districts that implement the development pattern envisioned by the underlying Vision 2050 Comprehensive Plan and Place Type designations. Just as zoning districts correlate with future land uses, so will transect zones and place types.

The Vision 2050 / Orange Code correlation table should be used to identify the various transect zones that may be considered within each specific Place Type designation. The table also identifies the range of residential densities that must be achieved within each Place Type designation as well as the maximum intensity of non-residential development.

Excluding properties with vested PD zoning districts, any pending Future Land Use Map (FLUM) amendment or rezoning applications that have not been acted upon by the Board of County Commissioners prior to the concurrent adoption date of Vision 2050 and Orange Code will be voided. These affected properties will be immediately subject to the newly applicable Vision 2050 Place Type designations and Orange Code transect zones.

Yes. New rezoning applications to change adopted Orange Code transect zones may be submitted and reviewed, provided that the requested transect zones are consistent with a property’s underlying Vision 2050 Place Type designation (refer to the Vision 2050 / Orange Code correlation table).