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No Floor Area Ratio? No problem

In a hurry:


Apply it today:

  • Coverage, height, setbacks and parking limit intensity as effectively as FAR

  • Parking may be the most limiting factor, even if you’re meeting the code


By the end of this episode you’ll learn:

  • What are the other metrics used to limit intensity and density?

  • How do coverage, height and setbacks limit intensity?

  • How does required parking limit intensity and density?

Have a few minutes:

If Floor Area Ratio is the metric used to limit or encourage development, what happens if your property doesn’t have an explicit FAR?


To answer that question, we need to dig into a property’s land development code a bit further. In all likelihood, if there is no defined FAR, then the municipality is relying on a combination of the following metrics to do the job FAR would have done:


  • Maximum lot coverage (or floorplate)

  • Maximum building height

  • Minimum off-street parking spaces

  • Minimum setbacks

  • Minimum open space (or landscape) requirements


While there are others, these make up the bulk of the limiting characteristics of a development.


Think of this like driving down the highway without a posted speed limit. Just because you didn’t see the sign it doesn’t mean you can go as fast as you want. Speed bumps, curves, police officers disguised as bushes... They limit your speed just as effectively.

By the way, this website does a great job showing a visualization of the relationship between FAR and lot coverage: Density Atlas


In this episode we explore the other metrics and regulations used by municipalities to limit intensity and density without an explicit FAR.

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