Community and Regional Planning Program


Date of this Version



A professional project completed in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree Master of Community and Regional Planning, University of Nebraska – Lincoln: December 2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Colin Punt


In the late 1980s, Sioux Falls, South Dakota recommitted to its downtown, removed a dead pedestrian mall, and joined the National Main Street program. The city‘s downtown revival efforts have been largely successful in the past twenty-some years, but this success has rendered the current downtown design guidelines from the early 1990s both function-ally and aesthetically outdated. The original city ordinance written in conjunction with the design guidelines has given both the City Planning Department and the Downtown Design Review Committee, which is appointed by the Director of Planning and administered by Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc., very little power to enforce the guidelines.

This professional project is of two parts, the first being a supplementary academic research document provided at request of the client. Both the City and Design Committee wished to have better understanding of design review systems and methodologies in order to most efficiently and effectively utilize the new guidelines. The paper is a review of urban design controls as public policies that guide the physical characteristics and aesthetics of renovations and new developments. The paper describes the purpose, goals, and objectives of design control; explains the role of the public in development; highlights legal is-sues surrounding design control; describes methodologies, elements, and best practices of design control; presents arguments for and against design controls; reviews design controls in downtowns and historic districts; and analyzes review processes, review bodies, and guidelines.

The second and larger part of this professional project is the Sioux Falls Downtown Design Guidelines document, the principal product to be presented to the client. The design guideline document is basically composed of three components. The introductory section outlines the objectives and purposes of the guidelines, defines the downtown area and its development, and how the guidelines are coordinated with other local planning efforts. The second section addresses design considerations, focusing on general design considerations for all downtown, specific building criteria, design for public spaces, and specific considerations for downtown sub-districts. The final section addresses implementation of the design guidelines. This section includes a proposed update of the Sioux Falls design review ordinance, describes and makes recommendations for public bodies involved in downtown design review, and includes a proposed sample development approval form for use by the Downtown Design Review Committee.