South Hill TND

The South Hill traditional neighborhood development (TND) project is an initiative to create a regulating plan — a special master zoning and development plan — to guide future growth in a ±170 acre area around the intersection of Danby Road and King Road East/West, just south of Ithaca College.

The 2014 Town of Ithaca Comprehensive Plan envisions traditional neighborhood development (TND) — compact, human scaled, mixed use neighborhoods where residential, commercial and civic spaces are within walking distance of each other — in emerging growth areas close to major employers and centers of activity.  One of these growth areas is centered on the crossroads of Danby Road and King Road, only two miles south of downtown Ithaca (city).

The South Hill TND regulating plan is the first project under the New Neighborhood Code, the Town’s framework for designing and building comfortable, walkable, and sustainable new neighborhoods.

Design Partners

Progress To Date

On October 25, 26, and 27, 2021, the Town of Ithaca held a virual charrette.  A professional design team with years of experience planning successful traditional neighborhood development projects came to Ithaca to tour the area, visit the site, and meet with Town officials and staff, property owners and business people in the planning area, area residents, community and environmental leaders, and other stakeholders.  The knowledge gained from their time in Ithaca, extensive background research, the vision of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, and the neighborhood planning standards in the New Neighborhood Code, informed the design of a preliminary concept plan.  The design team introduced the preliminary concept, shown in the header image, at a presentation on the night of October 27.

What Happens Next?

The South Hill TND regulating plan project is now in the last stage of the pre-application process: late concept review.

The design team will be fine tuning the concept plan through November. When they’re done, they’ll present a more polished version of the development concept, along with a concept for a regulating plan. The regulating plan will show the location of new zoning districts that allow certain types of buildings and uses, streets and sidewalks, parks and trails, and other neighborhood features.

Town staff and officials will have the opportunity to review, discuss, and suggest changes, so the concept follows the New Neighborhood Code, meets the goals of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, adequately addresses stakeholder concerns, and reflects best planning and placemaking practice.

After the final pre-application stage, a regulating plan proposal may be submitted to the Town for formal review and decision making. Environmental review (SEQR) also happens as a part of the formal review process.

The following text is a step-by-step description of the regulating plan review process, taken from Article 8 (planning actions and approvals) of the New Neighborhood Code (Town of Ithaca Town Code, Chapter 272).

The text has cross-references to other parts of the New Neighborhood Code (“See §272-[x]”) that explain the associated term or concept (neighborhood units, thoroughfare types, storefront frontage areas, and so on).  (We encourage you to download a copy of the New Neighborhood Code if you want to see where the cross-references point to.)

The South Hill TND proposal is at the late concept review stage (§272-802.3 B 4), as of 28 October 2021. After late concept review, formal application, and the environmental review and regulating plan approval/rezoning process (§272-802.3 C), may start.

process chart

272-802 Regulating plan

272-802.1 Overview

A regulating plan is a master development and zoning plan for a TND project. The subdivision process may happen after the Town Board approves a regulating plan. (The subdivision process is in § 272-803.)

272-802.2 Regulating plan items

(1) A regulating plan must have these items.

(2) A regulating plan may have other elements to:

These are some examples.

(3) A regulating plan may have a development agreement that sets:

(4) A regulating plan may show building or lot locations, but they are nonbinding. Subdivision lot sites, building/lot type and disposition requirements, and later approved site plans (if applicable), control building location.

(5) The development concept in a regulating plan should follow the outcome of the charrette or sketch plan review, where possible. However, it must:

272-802.3 Process

272-802.3 A Requesting a regulating plan

A regulating plan may apply to an area where the Town envisions walkable mixed use development. These parties may ask for a regulating plan.

272-802.3 B Before formal review

(1) Pre-application review

Pre-application review is an informal meeting between Town representatives, and the applicant for a regulating plan, at the concept stage of a TND proposal. The meeting lets the applicant and the Town consider and discuss these topics.

(2) Early concept review

Concept plan review is a public meeting (not a public hearing) between a review body (Town Board, or a committee they choose), Town staff, and the applicant for a regulating plan, at the early formative stage of a possible TND proposal. The meeting lets Town staff and Town Board members consider and discuss (1) concept plans; and (2) possible issues, outcomes, and alternatives.

(3) Design charrette

A design charrette is a multi-day open planning process. During a charrette, stakeholders take part in a series of collaborative design exercises. A design team drafts a plan based on the outcome of those exercises, stakeholder comments, and the neighborhood and site design requirements of this code.

A partial TND needs a design charrette if the Town Board, review committee, or Town staff finds the complexity or scope of the proposal, or the difficulty of integrating it into a future full TND, justifies or would benefit from a collaborative design process.

A full TND needs a design charrette.

Planning staff must approve the charrette structure. This includes format, agenda, schedule, location, stakeholders, public outreach, and how to make Planning staff aware of its progress and outcome. The charrette structure should follow model strategies from the National Charrette Institute (NCI).

The resulting plan must be workable, and meet all relevant requirements of this code. However, it is advisory, and not binding.
(4) Late concept review

Late concept plan review is a public meeting (not a public hearing) between a review body (Town Board, or a committee they choose), Town staff, and an applicant for a regulating plan, at the late formative stage of a possible TND proposal. The meeting lets the applicant and the Town:

Discussions and outcomes of late concept review are advisory and nonbinding.

272-802.3 C Regulating plan review

The regulating plan review process generally follows:

Public notification follows requirements of New York State Town Law and General Municipal Law.

(1) Application and submittal

The Planning Department receives applications for a regulating plan. The review and decision period starts when Planning staff finds the application is complete.

An application is complete when the applicant:

Application requirements are in a separate guide.

(2) Staff review

Planning staff may refer the proposed regulating plan to other affected or interested departments for review. The departments must return comments or recommendations to Planning staff within 14 days of referral.

(3) Planning Board review

Planning staff will send the application and a staff report to the Planning Board.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed regulating plan. The Planning Board will recommend (1) approval, (2) approval with modifications or conditions, or (3) disapproval of the regulating plan proposal. The recommendation is advisory and nonbinding.

The Planning Board will send the application and their recommendation to the Town Board.

(4) Town Board review

The Town Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed regulating plan after review by the Planning Board. 

The Town Board will (1) approve, (2) approve with modifications or conditions, or (3) disapprove the regulating plan proposal.

(5) Zoning and official map amendment

Town Board approval:

272-802.4 Changes and additions

272-802.4 A Changes

The Planning Director (or their designee) may review and decide about these minor changes to a regulating plan, if those changes meet criteria for an administrative adjustment (see § 272-805.2).

Zone boundary criteria in Article 9 determine zoning district boundaries. (See § 272-903.7 for criteria.)

Otherwise, changes to a regulating plan need approval from the Town Board.