Form Ithaca hosts a “Character Code Charrette” to improve City and Town land-use regulations

Ithaca, NY – The Form Ithaca zoning reform initiative is bringing leading urban designers, traffic engineers, and development experts to work with citizens, officials, local planners and design professionals from June 3 through June 6. The four-day intensive work session will explore how to implement forward-thinking planning ideas of the City and Town.

The event, called a “charrette,” is a chance to bring diverse professionals and the public together to accomplish work that under normal circumstances could take many months. It will include public sessions where community members are invited to provide ideas and feedback with the goal of developing a Character Code for Ithaca.

The Town’s current and City’s draft comprehensive plans agree on the principles of providing more housing and transportation choices for residents and visitors, and calling for compact, mixed-use, walkable development patterns. These terrific goals sometimes conflict with regulations adopted decades ago—at times when the City and Town had different priorities.

Starting on Wednesday June 3rd Form Ithaca will work to find solutions and develop the building blocks of better regulations. On Wednesday morning at 9am a one hour walking tour will meet at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market and explore opportunities for connecting the Northside neighborhood with the waterfront and how that part of the city can become more livable and pedestrian friendly.

On Wednesday evening at 7:30pm the team will host a kickoff presentation at the Unitarian Sanctuary, 306 N. Aurora St. At 8:15 the team will move to the Unitarian Annex for small group discussions and coffee.

On Thursday June 4th, at 7pm in the Unitarian Sanctuary the consultant team will present draft ideas for consideration, evaluation and critique by the public.

On Friday June 5th the team will work through the day on revisions and refinements based on Thursday’s comments. The working room in the Unitarian Annex will be open to the public from 12-2PM. This is a chance to come and see the process in action. Most members of the team will be hard at work but a guide will be available to field questions, and guide the public through the space including pin-ups of ongoing work. In the evening the team will welcome public officials and staff for a second round of review and critique.

On Saturday June 6th the team will revise their work based on feedback received and develop a final presentation to share with the whole community. At 5pm in the Town Board Room in Town Hall, 215 N. Tioga St. the charrette team will present the results of the 4 days of work. The outcome will include visualizations of specific zoning parameters and general ideas that can be applied in the Town and City as well as policy recommendations.

This charrette represents the culmination of months of work by the consultant team. The team has studied Ithaca’s development patterns working with municipal staff, citizens and non-profit groups to decipher what makes Ithaca a unique and appealing place to live. The team has also studied the problems of growth and the role of local land-use regulations. Form Ithaca had its first large public presentation October 30 and held an all-day public workshop on January 16. We have had numerous meetings with stakeholders and public officials to lay the groundwork for this event.

Joining in the Character Code Charrette is a chance for diverse citizens to present ideas on how the City and Town can guide development to improve the character of neighborhoods and make the community more livable.

Form Ithaca is an independent initiative funded through grants from the New York State Energy Research Development Authority and The Park Foundation. The team includes Better Cities & Towns, STREAM Collaborative, and Randall+West, with key advisors Seth Harry and Associates, Alta Planning + Design, Sandy Sorlien, The Agora Group, Chuck Banas, and Chris Hawley.

For more information please visit

Character Code Charrette Schedule