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City of Buffalo Press Releases

Posted on: December 14, 2017

Mayor Brown and Common Council Host Signing Ceremony of City's New Unified Development Ordinance

Mayor Brown and Common Council Host Signing Ceremony of City's New Unified Development Ordinance

Buffalo, N.Y. – After 242 public meetings, Mayor Byron W. Brown and the Buffalo Common Council today hosted a special signing ceremony of the City of Buffalo’s new Unified Development Ordinance.  The “Green Code” is the first major overhaul to City zoning laws since 1953 and will serve as the City’s blueprint for zoning and development in the 21st Century.  The Common Council unanimously approved the “Green Code” on December 27.

 “Currently there is more than $5.6 billion in economic development activity underway, and that number will definitely increase with this new zoning reform in place,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “This law represents the best ideas, creates modern development standards, and preserves and builds upon Buffalo’s strengths. My administration worked closely with the City Council and the community to successfully develop this legislation that will continue to bring growth and progress to Buffalo.”

"Buffalo is about to step into its own through this code," said Council President Darius G. Pridgen, Ellicott District. "The last code was created to make Buffalo look like the suburbs. With the implementation of the Green Code, Buffalo is going to look like Buffalo."

"I'd like to thank the Mayor and his Office of Strategic Planning, committee members and many other residents for their hard work on the Green Code," said Majority Leader David A Rivera, Niagara District. " This zoning reform will lead the City into its future development."

"I want to give credit to Mayor Brown and his administration for tackling this giant enterprise," said Common Coucilman David Franczyk, Fillmore District. "This code went back to basics and will better define what urban living is in the City of Buffalo."

Buffalo now becomes the third major US city to adopt a form-based code (FBC) for the entire city, after Miami and Denver. This historic update of the city’s 63-year-old zoning code and land use policies was one of the key components of Mayor Brown’s place-based economic development strategy aimed to further promote private and public sector investment, facilitate job creation, restore the environment and continue to improve Buffalo’s quality of life for residents. The 338-page document includes numerous graphics so people can apply the words to the images.

Brendan Mehaffy, Executive Director of Mayor Brown’s Office of Strategic Planning, stated, “The Green Code is the product of countless hours dedicated by staff in the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency.  Staff attended all 242 public meetings, many of them at night; worked through the night to prepare documents for final publication; and listened to and read thousands of public comments over nearly seven years.  No matter the challenge, staff rose to the occasion because they believed in Mayor Brown’s commitment that the Green Code be an open and transparent process so that citizens of Buffalo could feel that we were building this great city together.”

James Morrell,  Chair of the Green Code Community Advisory Committee, stated, “It was an honor to witness and participate in the formation, development and implementation of an inclusive planning process that involved many community members and agencies in an effort to guide our historic Unified Development Ordinance”.  
Key components of the document include the following:
• Makes walkable neighborhoods “legal” again. The Green Code will make it easier to develop mixed-use neighborhoods where residents can be within close walking distance of jobs, goods and services, and public transit. The previous zoning ordinance often required multiple variances to develop walkable, mixed-use development, while encouraging suburban sprawl that harmed Buffalo’s traditional character.
• Encourages preservation and restoration of historic neighborhoods. The Green Code introduces new protections against demolition, broadens the range of uses that can occupy landmark buildings through an “adaptive reuse permit,” and encourages high-quality infill development that can help restore Buffalo’s neighborhoods. The Green Code even removes barriers to the reuse of historic corner taverns and shops, like McCarthy’s or Em Tea Cup Cafe.
• Encourages a wide variety of transportation choices. Rather than impose “one size fits all” minimum parking requirements, the Green Code focuses on providing access for all, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and the mobility impaired.
• Brings Buffalo up to speed with 21st century innovations. Whether it is recognizing the revitalization value of renewable energy, or craft industries such as beer-making and distilling, the Green Code makes it easier for entrepreneurs to bring jobs and investment to Buffalo neighborhoods.
• Brings clarity to the development process.  The Green Code is designed to be a user-friendly “instruction manual,” written in plain English with plenty of helpful illustrations and tables allowing residents and developers to understand the rules. 

The Green Code will go into effect in February, 2017. You can find more information about the Green Code at

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