City of Rochester, NY
Monroe County
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 6-17-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-183; 7-27-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-240; 9-21-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-323; 7-14-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-228]
The design guidelines and standards are intended to guide development that preserves and improves Rochester's civic beauty and urban character. Well-designed buildings and sites encourage lively, safe, pedestrian-friendly and attractive streets and public spaces, protect and enhance property values, and promote urban vibrancy.
Buildings, structures, sites, signs and public spaces should be designed to:
A. 
Retain, reflect and enhance the dominant aesthetic or visual qualities of the neighborhood as much as possible.
B. 
Encourage and promote a sense of design continuity that appropriately relates the historic past of the neighborhood to ongoing revitalization and redevelopment efforts.
C. 
Appropriately relate proposed development to existing designs, styles, building forms and land uses.
D. 
Encourage and promote the sensitive and contextual design of buildings, signs, sites and public spaces through the use of design elements, details, styles and architectural features as well as other amenities, materials or treatments that may be appropriate to further the design standards. Blank end walls should incorporate building components or design features. Blank rear walls should be screened with landscaping.
E. 
Encourage a pedestrian-oriented and human-scaled right-of-way, public realm and streetscape and promote safe pedestrian movement, access and circulation. Access from streets, sidewalks and public rights-of-way should be clearly defined, and where a service alley is viable, garages and loading areas shall be accessed only from the alley.
F. 
Encourage and promote the incorporation of design features and other amenities in the private and public realms that reinforce the importance of terminating streets, public ways and vistas with focal points.
G. 
Encourage and promote the design of buildings, sites, signs and public spaces along the waterfront that protects, enhances and strengthens these areas as well as significant recreational, environmental, historic, scenic and cultural resources.
H. 
Encourage and promote the use of predominant existing building materials within the neighborhood and the predominant existing building materials, architectural features and fenestration on specific structures as a guide in determining appropriate replacement and new construction materials. Where possible, all replacement windows in elevations visible from any public right-of-way should match the original windows in size and configuration.
I. 
Protect, respect and expand the design of green space, landscaping and open space within the neighborhood, and encourage public and private development that enhances this character with landscape design details, such as trees, lawns, plantings, fountains and malls.
J. 
Encourage and promote direct visual access to views and vistas of the City skyline.
K. 
Promote preservation of designated buildings of historic value to enhance and promote the history, culture and architecture of the City.
A. 
Exceptions.
(1) 
The city-wide design standards shall not apply in the Center City District and Marina District, each of which has its own set of design standards.
(2) 
Each of the Planned Development Districts and the Public Market Village District, Harbortown Village District, and Collegetown Village District has its own set of design standards. The city-wide design standard specified in this section shall apply only to those design elements that are not addressed by the district-specific design standards for the Planned Development Districts, Public Market Village District, Harbortown Village District, or Collegetown Village District.
B. 
Building elevations.
(1) 
Any building facade facing a sidewalk, street, waterway or open space district shall have an active building elevation. Active building elevations shall include windows, building entrances and other architectural features that enhance the pedestrian scale and experience of the building facade.
(2) 
New construction shall respect existing building widths by providing a division of the building facade into visible building increments no larger than the average width of existing buildings on the block.
(3) 
Where the street frontage is defined by a continuous building facade, the proposed new building or infill construction shall maintain such continuous facade by building from side lot line to side lot line unless access is required for rear yard parking.
(4) 
Building facades shall not contain blank wall areas that exceed 25 linear feet, measured parallel to the street. Building facades that are 100 linear feet or more shall include a repeating architectural pattern with two or more of the following elements: color change, texture change, material change, or a wall articulation change such as a reveal, recess, offset, or pilaster.
C. 
Building entrances. The front facade and main entrance shall face a public street and shall have a direct pedestrian connection to the street.
D. 
Roofs.
(1) 
Green roof, blue roof, and white roof designs are permitted.
(2) 
Reflective surfaces that produce glare are prohibited, except for solar panels or white roofs intended to radiate absorbed or nonreflected solar energy and reduce heat transfer to the building.
E. 
Designated buildings of historic value.
(1) 
Demolition of a designated building of historic value shall be prohibited.
(2) 
Significant architectural features, including but not limited to slate or tile roofing, original cladding, porches, cornices, etc., shall be maintained.
(3) 
Replacement windows in a designated building of historic value shall utilize true divided lights or simulated divided lights when matching the original mullion and/or muntin configuration. This does not include interior-only grids or grids between the panes of glass, except where the windows are being replaced in order to abate lead paint hazards.
F. 
Waterfront views or vistas.
(1) 
Site development, including the construction of buildings, structures or signs, shall not unnecessarily interfere with or obstruct significant, identified views or vistas of (or from) the Genesee River, Lake Ontario or the Erie Canal from the street or significant designated landscape features beyond existing conditions and as listed in the City of Rochester's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP).
(2) 
The proposed design and arrangement of the building, structure or use shall provide for public pedestrian and visual access to and along the waterfront.
G. 
Mechanical and electrical equipment and open storage areas. Mechanical and electrical equipment includes heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment and electrical generators.
(1) 
To the maximum extent practical, all roof-mounted and ground-mounted mechanical equipment shall be screened from view or isolated so as not to be visible from any public right-of-way or residential district within 150 feet of the subject lot, measured from a point five feet above grade. Roof screens, when used, shall be coordinated with the building to maintain a unified appearance.
(2) 
Mechanical equipment and open storage areas shall be screened from public streets, alleys, paths, private streets and abutting lots to a minimum height of six feet. When solid screening is used, the materials shall be compatible with the building.
The following design standards apply to nonresidential and mixed-use development. They apply to new construction, including additions to existing structures, and to substantial repair or rehabilitation of the exterior facade of an existing structure. In the case of repair or rehabilitation, only those standards that relate to the specific repair or rehabilitation activities conducted shall apply.
A. 
Building materials.
(1) 
Exterior walls. The following building materials are prohibited on any exterior wall:
(a) 
Concrete finishes or precast concrete panels (tilt wall) that are not exposed aggregate, hammered, embossed, imprinted, sandblasted or covered with a cement-based acrylic coating, except in an M-1 District when some other relief is offered (architectural or landscaping).
(b) 
Metal panels with a depth of less than one inch or a thickness less than U.S. Standard 26 gauge.
(c) 
Mirrored glass with a reflectance greater than 40% shall be prohibited from covering more than 40% of the exterior walls of any building in the C-3 and M-1 Districts.
(2) 
Facades. The following building materials are prohibited on any facade:
(a) 
Plain concrete block, except in the M-1 District.
(b) 
Glass block, except in the C-3 and M-1 Districts.
(c) 
Exposed aggregate (rough finish) concrete wall panels, except in the M-1 District.
(d) 
Exterior insulating finish systems (EIFS) installed lower than four feet above grade on any building facade, except in the C-3 and M-1 Districts.
[Amended 9-19-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-299]
(e) 
Exterior insulating finish systems (EIFS) installed lower than eight feet above grade on any building facade within 10 feet of a public right-of-way, except in the C-3 and M-1 Districts.
[Added 9-19-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-299[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also redesignated former Subsection A(2)(e) through (h) as Subsection A(2)(f) through (i).
(f) 
T-111 plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) siding.
[Amended 9-19-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-299]
(g) 
Plastic.
(h) 
Vinyl, except cellular vinyl trim may be used as decorative or detail elements for up to 25% of the facade.
(i) 
Metal, except in the PMV, C-3, and M-1 Districts. In all other districts, metal may be used as decorative or detail elements for up to 30% of the facade.
[Amended 9-19-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-299]
B. 
Windows and transparency.
(1) 
Renovations of the first floor of existing buildings within 60 feet of a street right-of-way shall not decrease the area of transparency. Where feasible, renovations shall increase the area of transparency to that required for new construction unless the original historic character of the building requires less transparency area.
[Amended 9-19-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-299]
(2) 
All windows shall be clear or lightly tinted.
[Amended 9-19-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-299]
(3) 
In all C-1, C-2, H-V, PMV, and C-V Districts, all new construction on building facades that are within 60 feet of a street right-of-way shall provide areas of transparency equal to 70% of the wall area between the height of two feet and eight feet from the ground.
[Amended 9-19-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-299]
(a) 
For sites with frontage on one street, the transparency requirement is applied to that frontage.
(b) 
For sites with frontage on more than one street, the transparency requirement is applied to all frontage on streets classified as principal arterials, minor arterials and collector streets.
(c) 
For sites with frontage on local streets only, the transparency requirement is applied to one frontage.
(4) 
In the C-3 and M-1 Districts, when offices are part of new industrial construction, the entry to such offices shall have direct access from street frontages and parking areas. Offices that are part of new industrial construction and new construction of commercial buildings within 60 feet of street rights-of-way shall provide areas of transparency equal to 40% of the wall area between the height of two feet and eight feet from the ground. The percentage of transparency required on buildings may be reduced to 20% of the wall area if landscaping improvements consisting of one tree of at least two-inch caliper for every 20 feet of lot frontage are installed between the building and the public street.
[Amended 9-19-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-299]
(5) 
The use of opaque materials such as plywood, brick, metal or sheet rock to cover or fill a window opening is prohibited.
(6) 
The installation of any device which obstructs transparency or impacts the architectural design of a window is not permitted. This prohibition includes the blocking of windows with interior shelving or the like but does not apply to nonpermanent devices such as curtains, blinds, shades and nonopaque roll-down grills.
[Amended 8-9-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-263[2]]
[2]
Editor’s Note: This ordinance also repealed former Subsection B(7), regarding new construction and reoccupancy with high-impact retail sales and service and pawnbrokers, which immediately followed this subsection.
C. 
Storefront conversion.
(1) 
Residential use standards. The applicant for conversion of a commercial storefront to a residential use in an area that is predominantly residential shall have the option either to:
(a) 
Retain the storefront features (for example, display windows, transoms, lintels, etc.). Retaining the original storefront design is not subject to the first-floor transparency minimum; or
(b) 
Remove the entire storefront and redesign the facade to a residential appearance.
(2) 
Commercial conversions. When converting only one portion of a building, the entire commercial character of the storefront must be retained. In cases where demolition of a commercial addition to a house is proposed, the new facade shall approximate, as closely as possible, the original design of the house.
(3) 
Nonresidential use standards. The applicant for conversion of a commercial storefront to a residential use in an area that is predominantly commercial shall be required to maintain the commercial character of the storefront.
D. 
All new building construction within five feet of the front lot line shall be built parallel to the lot line for at least 80% of its frontage and up to a height of 20 feet. Up to 20% of this building frontage may be built skewed from the lot line; any portion of the building above 20 feet in height may be built skewed from the lot line.
E. 
Retail sales of automobile fuels (including retail with fuel sales, vehicle service/vehicle repair with fuel sales). To ensure that these uses fit well into the generally compact, urban neighborhoods of Rochester and to minimize any negative impacts on neighboring properties, development or redevelopment of these uses shall comply with the following design standards:
(1) 
Except for C-3, M-1, and Planned Development Districts, retail structures associated with automobile fuel sales shall be located along the street frontage of a lot and shall follow the design standards found in § 120-159A and B.
(2) 
Except for C-3, M-1, and Planned Development Districts, retail structures associated with automobile fuel sales shall have a fully operational pedestrian entrance open during business hours along the public street; other entrances are permitted.
(3) 
Except for C-3, M-1, and Planned Development Districts, canopy structures shall be designed to fit into the traditional urban context of the neighborhood. Designs shall draw on historical precedents for canopy-type structures such as railroad stations, streetcar stops and lumber sheds and shall use traditional materials (wood, brick, metal) or high-quality modern alternatives. Pitched roofs are encouraged. Lighting of the canopy fascia, parapet, or roof is prohibited. Downward lighting of the pump islands and area under the canopy is permitted.
(4) 
A retail automobile fuel facility that occupies a pad or portion of a building within a large commercial center shall be designed to reflect the design elements of that center.
(5) 
For retail automobile fuel facilities located on corner lots, any buildings shall be placed along the street frontage or landscape elements, such as regularly spaced columnar trees, shall be placed along the street frontage in order to emphasize the corner and define the street wall.
(6) 
All facilities shall include landscaping/hardscaping along all street frontages in order to limit vehicular movement to established curb openings and protect any portion of the public sidewalk from on-site vehicle maneuvering.
(7) 
All facilities shall include a solid screening fence no less than six feet tall and no more than eight feet tall along any property line abutting the side or rear yards of lots zoned R-1, R-2, or R-3.
(8) 
Curb openings shall be minimized, especially on the primary street frontage. Redundant curb openings shall be closed.
(9) 
Canopy fascia signs are not permitted. All signage must comply with § 120-177.
The following design standards apply to residential development. They apply to new construction, including additions to existing structures, and to substantial repair or rehabilitation of the exterior facade of an existing structure. In the case of repair or rehabilitation, only those standards that relate to the specific repair or rehabilitation activities conducted shall apply.
A. 
Single-family detached, two-family, single-family attached.
(1) 
Building context and compatibility. New infill single-family, two-family, attached dwelling units, additions to such structures and accessory buildings shall be constructed to be generally compatible with other existing dwelling units or accessory buildings on the same block frontage within 200 feet. This provision shall be satisfied by constructing the subject dwelling unit or accessory building so that at least four of the following features are similar to the majority of other dwelling units within 200 feet on the block frontage (both sides of the street):
(a) 
Roof style and overhang (e.g., gable, mansard, hip, A-frame, or flat);
(b) 
Building massing (e.g., ranch with attached garage; two-story with attached garage; bungalow);
(c) 
Floor area:
[1] 
Single-family dwelling units. The floor area of the proposed dwelling unit shall be no less than 80% and not more than 145% of the average floor area of other single-family dwelling units, as indicated in the City Tax Assessor's records, within 200 feet of the subject lot, including single-family dwelling units along both sides of the street of the same block.
[2] 
Two-family dwelling units. The floor area of the proposed dwelling unit shall be no less than 80% and not more than 145% of the average floor area of other two-family dwelling units, as indicated in the City Tax Assessor's records, within 200 feet of the subject lot, including two-family dwelling units along both sides of the street of the same block.
(d) 
Front porches (existence of);
(e) 
Exterior building material; or
(f) 
Pattern of window and door openings (e.g., central door and four windows; offset door and three windows).
(2) 
Porches.
(a) 
No existing open porch visible from any public right-of-way shall be removed unless the original design of the building lacked such a porch.
(b) 
No open porch visible from any public right-of-way shall be enclosed.
(c) 
Rails, balusters, skirting and columns shall be constructed of wood that is primed and painted or of prefinished wood-alternative materials that are appropriate for exterior use.
(3) 
Garages and carports. The following standards apply to all residential garages and carports, with the exception of multifamily dwellings.
(a) 
General standards.
[1] 
Garage orientation and access (e.g., attached/front-loaded, attached/side-loaded, detached/street-loaded, or detached/alley-loaded) shall conform with the majority of other existing residential parcels on the same block frontage within 200 feet.
[2] 
Single-family attached dwellings shall not have street-loaded garages if alternative access can be provided.
[3] 
Garages shall not be in the style of a Quonset hut or other similarly formed metal or plastic structures designed and/or marketed for industrial or agricultural use.
(b) 
Attached garage.
[1] 
The width of front-loaded attached garages shall be limited to 50% of the front setback line or 22 feet, whichever is less.
[2] 
Attached garages shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from the front setback line of the principal use or structure.
(c) 
Detached garage.
[1] 
One detached garage is permitted per lot.
[2] 
The area above the vehicle parking spaces in a detached garage shall not contain a kitchen or sleeping area.
[3] 
A detached garage is permitted only in the rear yard.
(d) 
Carports.
[1] 
Carports shall be located over a driveway.
[2] 
Carports are permitted only in rear yards.
[3] 
The height of a carport is limited to 10 feet.
[4] 
A carport shall be entirely open on at least three sides except for the necessary supporting columns and customary architectural features.
[5] 
A carport shall be constructed as a permanent structure. Temporary tent, canopy or other structures are not considered carports.
(4) 
Sheds. Sheds over 144 square feet in area shall not be in the style of a Quonset hut or other similarly formed metal or plastic structures designed and/or marketed for industrial or agricultural use.
(5) 
Yard areas.
(a) 
Except for driveways and walks, no portion of the front yard shall be paved with asphalt or concrete.
(b) 
Decorative stone or gravel surfaces shall be used when an integral part of a landscape plan.
(c) 
To the maximum extent practical, the front yard, side yard and the unpaved area between the sidewalk and the street paving shall be covered with turf grass or vegetative ground cover.
(d) 
To the maximum extent practical, the rear yard shall be fine graded to ensure proper grades and drainage.
B. 
Multifamily.
(1) 
Building facades.
(a) 
Building facades shall be designed with consistent materials and treatments. The consistency of materials and treatments shall also be maintained for a single building possessing multiple facades.
(b) 
Building facades shall include windows, projected or recessed entrances, overhangs, and other architectural features.
(2) 
Windows and transparency. The following minimum transparency requirements apply to any facade facing a street, calculated by the entire area of the facade:
(a) 
Attached or row-house-style building: 15%.
(b) 
Other multifamily building: 25%.
(c) 
Roofs. Flat roofs shall include cornices, parapets or similar architectural details to add variety and break up the roofline.
A. 
Purpose. Neighborhood design guidelines offer further guidance to the review authority in determining if a development meets the objectives of this chapter and the neighborhood. These guidelines are developed to ensure that new development is compatible with the surrounding area. Neighborhood design guidelines should provide additional, more-specific information to the review authority regarding the nature of the design theme and principles that are desired within a neighborhood.
B. 
Guidelines. The neighborhood guidelines:
(1) 
Would exist outside of the Zoning Ordinance in the form of a design guidelines manual or handbook.
(2) 
Include additional design guidelines that elaborate on or provide additional specificity for the design guidelines listed in this article. The guidelines shall not be hard-and-fast rules that are to be explicitly followed in a single prescribed manner; they are intended to be additional, interpretable design recommendations that can be executed in a variety of ways and that provide further design direction, detail and guidance.