Form Based Code

A Guide to the City of Auburn’s Form Based Code

Background- Following recommendations from Auburn’s 2010 Comprehensive Plan and the 2014 New Auburn Village Center Plan, to “encourage new development or modifications to existing buildings to occur in a manner that reflects key elements of the traditional downtown development pattern”; Auburn made the commitment to implement a Form Based Code. Starting in 2014, the City Planning Staff and the Auburn Planning Board worked over a two year period and developed a simple, easy to understand and administrate Form Based Code for close to 100 acres of Downtown Auburn and New Auburn. Form Based Code to help bring back traditional development patterns by providing a focus on building placement, safe walkable streets, greater flexibility of land uses and a more simplified development process. The Auburn City Council adopted the Form Based Code (FBC) in May of 2016.

View the May 2, 2016 presentation to City Council

The Process- Initially, the Staff made a careful evaluation (calibration) of the Downtown’s physical, historical and architectural character and arrived at 5 character based types (transects); 2 Traditional Neighborhood types, 2 Traditional Downtown types and a Downtown Core type. Each Transect or District description in the adopted zoning ordinance contains sections on: Intent and Purpose, Characteristic Features and Pictorial examples, Building Placement and Configuration (by graphics), Building Frontage Types and External Elements. Much thought and deliberation was put into the level of detail and site elements to be regulated. The overall emphasis was on building form, simplicity of design elements, regulating what is most important in the end product and avoiding things like street design, landscaping, lighting and building materials.

Administration: Almost as much time was spent on how to administrate the Form Based Code in a way that is understandable but flexible. Some highlights are:

  • Projects under 12,000 s.f. can go directly to a building permit if all the requirements are met
  • The Planning Board can waive elements of the FBC requirements provided justification is made and the project still meets the intent
  • Allowable uses are generally more flexible than traditional zoning and parking requirements were lowered

Success To Date: New developments are underway with more under consideration.

  • 62 Spring Street-A new 4 stories, mixed use with 41 work force and market rate apartment units is now complete.



  • 48 Hampshire Street- A 53 unit work force and market rate apartment has been approved and is applying for Low Income Housing Tax Credits and constructed in 2019.

For more information on how to bring Form Based Code to your community, view this presentation.


Form Based Code Files:

Form Based Code Interactive Map

How to Use this Guide:

  1. Click on the map below and locate your property.
  2. Click on your property to see what “Form Based Code District” is proposed and to see district details for your property and how new development will be regulated.
  3. Browse the Form Based Code Files below to review the entire Form Based Code proposed for Auburn.
  4. Additional information is provided for those who want to learn more about Form Based Code.