The planning tools that have been adopted to guide the growth and development of property within the boundaries of the Transit-Oriented Development District are modeled on traditional town planning techniques that were used predominately prior to World War II. These tools place an emphasis on creating places where residents can live within close walking distance of their essential needs including retail stores, schools, parks and open space, transit stops, and for some, even their workplace.
This type of development pattern does not exclude any of the uses that we are accustomed to, it just arranges them in a more connected and compact form.
There are two primary planning tools that the City of Leander has adopted to govern development within the TOD. The first is the comprehensive plan for the TOD and it is based upon a planning framework known as the Rural to Urban Transect.
The concept of a transect was first developed and used to describe the relationship between natural habitats or ecosystems. It is easiest to conceive if you think about moving from the ocean inward toward the mountains or forests and the different types of habitats for plants and animals that one would experience along that journey.
Similarly, the transect has been adapted for use by urban planners to describe the progression of the form of human habitats from the most rural to the most urban. Unlike conventional zoning which has been used to separate different land uses from each other, the transect provides a tool to integrate land uses appropriately and provides the ability to create complete neighborhoods and cities.
The Transect Map (or land use plan) for the Leander TOD contains six zones:
- T3 - Sub-Urban Zone
- T4 - Neighborhood General Zone
- T5 - Neighborhood Center Zone
- T6 - Urban Core Zone
- Special District Zone
- Conventional Zone
The Sub-Urban Zone, though similar to conventional suburban single-family housing areas, differs by its street connectivity and by allowing home occupations. It is typically adjacent to other urban transect zones. This zone is naturalistic in its landscape planting. Blocks may be larger and the roads irregular to accommodate site conditions and natural features.
The Neighborhood General Zone has a denser, primarily residential urban fabric. Mixed-use is confined to certain street corner locations. This Zone has a wide range of building types. Houses, including detached, zero-lot lines, and attached as well as apartment buildings are set close to the frontages. Streets typically define medium-sized blocks.
The Neighborhood Center Zone is the equivalent of a Main Street. This Zone includes mixed-use building types that accommodate retail, offices, and dwellings, including rowhouses and apartments. The T-5 Zone is a tight network of streets and blocks, with wide sidewalks, steady street tree planting, and buildings set close to the frontages.
The Urban Core Zone occurs at regional centers. It is the equivalent of a town or the downtown of a city. It contains the densest urbanism-the tallest buildings, and the greatest variety of uses, particularly unique ones such as the city hall, financial district, and important civic buildings. The Urban Core is the least naturalistic of all the Zones; trees are formally arranged and waterways are often contained in embankments.
Special District Zones are intended to accommodate special circumstances including site and building design characteristics that may require modifications of the development standards. These areas may include existing developments that were in place prior to the adoption of the TOD standards or for special uses such as hospitals.
The Conventional Zone is intended to allow for conventional suburban development and projects within this zone are allowed to use the City's conventional zoning standards for development.