South Coast


The Beaufort Code

Congratulations, Beaufort!  The Code passed on June 28th, 2017.  Hats off to the staff, residents and elected officials who made it happen!


Good zoning is an essential planning tool for creating thriving cities and towns.   A good zoning code will support walkable neighborhoods connected to retail and commercial space. It will lay the foundation for increased access to the waterfront, urban revitalization and infill, and the creation of healthy civic spaces for all of us.  The City of Beaufort is revising its zoning code and your participation is needed.

Why does this matter?  In the past 50 years in this country, land consumption has outpaced population growth – we’ve sprawled out from our cities and into our countryside. Conventional zoning – which regulates by use only – hasn’t helped that. In fact, it’s separated homes and schools, offices and apartments and forced us to primarily rely on our cars to travel from place to place. (Read more on Dana’s blog). 

Form-based codes look at land use a little differently. By regulating the form of a building, they encourage mixed-use, and support flexibility within neighborhoods between home offices, apartments above retail establishments and corner stores or markets. This will guide growth in new areas of the City including infill in the Northwest Quadrant, new development on Whitehall and Lady’s Island and support existing neighborhoods like Pigeon Point and Hermitage/Mossy Oaks.

Our wonderful town, supported by thriving rural areas on the edge, should provide an example for how coastal development can occur AND conserve natural resources in the process.

Form based codes also offer the ability to tailor the zoning code to the existing environment – to what we love about Beaufort! – and codify that for incoming development.

We are looking forward to the adoption of Beaufort’s new code.   Join us to review the draft Beaufort Code. We will work to ensure the new zoning code:

  • Fits the comprehensive plan for growth by encouraging infill and discouraging annexation
  • Protects waterfront and views of the water and views from the water
  • Supports existing neighborhoods
  • Encourages walkability and bicycle and pedestrian access
  • Encourages investment where there is existing infrastructure

Come learn more about Beaufort’s code and ensure it fits our shared vision for the city by attending upcoming neighborhood meetings. 

But what about the Historic Landmark District?

According to, there are 11 communities with active Form Based codes in their historic districts.  It should be noted that while none of these places is Beaufort, none are like each other either.  The beauty of the regulatory structure of a form based code is that it can be tailored based on existing conditions and written to promote what works and what is desirable.  In the case of Beaufort, the desirable form is in many ways the Old Point and larger Landmark Historic District.  We argue a form based code allows the City to achieve this form across neighborhoods and accommodate new growth in the traditional and existing fashion of Historic Beaufort.  In the event a given neighborhood has or expresses a unique quality, this can also be reflected by the code to maintain individual character and charm of our many neighborhoods.  In this way, the code prevents homogenous development all too common in post 1950 zoning.

It is important to know:

The town of Ridgeland, town of Port Royal and Beaufort County all are governed by a type of form based code. It is important to have this predictability across the region so we support compact towns and protected rural landscapes region-wide.  The recent East Edisto project in Charleston and Dorchester Counties also employs a form based code to guide its compact development among rural land protection.

Read more about form based codes here:

“Suburban sprawl, now the standard North America pattern of growth, ignores historical precedent and human experience. It is an invention, conceived by architects, engineers, and planners, and promoted by developers in the great sweeping aside of the old that occurred after the Second World War. Unlike the traditional neighborhood model, which evolved organically as a response to human needs, suburban sprawl is an idealized artificial system. It is not without a certain beauty: it is rational, consistent, and comprehensive. Its performance is largely predictable. It is an outgrowth of modern problem solving: a system for living. Unfortunately, this system is already showing itself to be unsustainable. Unlike the traditional neighborhood, sprawl is not healthy growth; it is essentially self destructive. Even at relatively low population densities, sprawl tends to pay for itself financially and consumes land at an alarming rate, while producing insurmountable traffic problems and exacerbating inequity and isolation.” (Duany, Plater-Zyberk, Speck; 4)

Related Links

Center for Applied Transect Studies

Sprawl Repair Smartcode Module

Contact Us

[email protected] · 843-522-1800

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