PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA REQUEST

Sponsor:

 Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Planning Commission

 

April 13, 2006

Staff Lead:

Department:

W. Todd Benson, Assistant Zoning Administrator

 

Community Development

 

Topic:  

A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Sections 3-306, 15-300, and 5-607 to Add “Transitional Family Housing” as a New Use, with Definition and Standards

 

Topic Description:

The proposed text amendment adds “Transitional Family Housing” as a new use to the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance.    The proposed use would facilitate the ongoing operation of Victory Transitional Housing, a 15-bedroom transitional housing facility for families that is currently being operated by the True Deliverance Church of God in Bealeton, on a property contiguous to their sanctuary.  The proposed text amendment amends Section 3-306 to add Transitional Family Housing as a separate use in Category 6, Institutional Uses, allowed in the R-1 zoning district with approval of a site plan and a special exception.  It also amends Section 5-600, Category 6, Institutional Uses, to add standards for the “Transitional Family Housing” use as subsection 5-607.   Finally, the proposed amendment also adds a definition for “Transitional Family Housing” to the Zoning Ordinance.

 

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached Ordinance.

Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.

 

Summary Staff Report:

 

Background

This text amendment has been generated because of an existing use established at the True Deliverance Church of God, located at 10499 Jericho Road in Bealeton.   The Church owns two contiguous 10± acres which are zoned R-1.   On one of the parcels, the church has a sanctuary and associated buildings, including a large replica of Noah’s Ark.   On the other 10± acre parcel, the Church has constructed a “single family dwelling” with 15 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, which they have been utilizing for the past two years to provide transitional housing to homeless families; the facility is known as “Victory Transitional Housing.”  Occupants pay a low fee to stay at the facility, and are required to save a portion of their salary each month for a future home or apartment.  Occupants are also required to take financial mentoring courses.  According to the Church’s pastor, occupants are often referred to the facility by Fauquier Family Shelter; to be accepted they must have stable employment and reliable transportation, and are limited to a maximum one year stay.  As of November 2003, the church was housing six families in the facility, for a total of 16 people.

Church representatives approached the Zoning Office in 2003.  The building that is now utilized for the transitional housing was built, according to these representatives, by the former leader of the church, who is now deceased.  The new leadership contacted the office to confirm that all proper permits were in place and that no additional approvals or permits were necessary to continue operation.  At that time, staff researched the approval/permit history for the church and found that the building was approved and built as a dwelling unit with three bedrooms.  

Staff’s review of the case found that the transitional use had never been authorized, that the building permits may need to be revisited because of the change in use, and that Health Department approvals are not in place for the expanded use of the structure.   This proposed text amendment is the first in a number of approvals that will be required to bring the use into compliance with the County’s regulations.  If a text amendment is approved that authorizes the use, the Church will then have to secure the special exception and site plan required by the text amendment. Building permit requirements must also be met for the use.

This matter was scheduled for initiation on February 19, 2004.  After discussion, the Planning Commission voted to postpone all action pending Health Department approval of the septic system.  That action finally occurred and the matter is now back on the agenda. This text amendment was initiated by the Planning Commission on January 26, 2006. On February 16, 2006, the Planning Commission voted to recommend adoption.

Proposed Text Amendment

The existing Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance does not include a use category that allows the type of transitional housing occurring at the church.   The use has some characteristics similar to both the “Residential Care Facility” use and the “Boarding House” use in the Zoning Ordinance, but ultimately fits in neither category, as a “Residential Care Facility” must be State or Federally licensed with 24-hour supervision, and a “Boarding House” is limited to accommodations for 12 or fewer people, is not institutional in character, and does not involve the provision of services.  Nor can the use be categorized as “multi-family dwelling,”   because housekeeping facilities (bathrooms, kitchens, living spaces) are shared, and because no associated services are part of a “Boarding House” use.

Therefore, a new category is necessary to allow the proposed use.  Staff reviewed the Zoning Ordinance of other jurisdictions, and found several with a “Transitional Housing Facility” or similar use.  The following definition for “Transitional Housing Facility” is loosely based on that of St. Paul, Minnesota, with refinements to reflect the existing Victory Transitional Housing facility, which serves homeless families rather than homeless individuals.

Transitional Family Housing Facility

A building where families who may or may not have access to traditional or permanent housing but who are capable of living independently within a reasonable period of time, generally about 18 months, reside on a 24-hour-per day basis for at least 30 days and participate in appropriate program activities designed to facilitate independent living.

In order to allow the Victory Transitional Housing facility, the “transitional housing facility” use must be added to the R-1 zoning district as an allowed use.  Staff would suggest that such a use require site plan and special exception approval, so that the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors can ensure that the use is located only at appropriate locations, and so that potential impacts of the use can be carefully reviewed and controlled.   Other uses where individuals live in a concentrated fashion in the R-1 zone require approval of a special permit (boarding house, minor residential care facility or minor medical care facility) or special exception (major residential care facility, major residential care facility and major continuing care facility).

Because of the number of families concentrated in a single building in this type of use, standards are critical to assure that impacts are carefully controlled.  

The following standards are suggested:

1.   This use shall only be permitted when located on the same site as a place of worship and as an accessory use to the main sanctuary.

This standard reduces the ability to create freestanding transitional housing on other sites, as it limits such housing to sites occupied by places of worship.   This standard is met with the Victory Transitional Housing, provided the church consolidates its two lots.  Subsequent to the public hearing, asked staff to better define a “place of worship.”  Perhaps the first standard could be better written as follows: “This use shall only be permitted when located on the same site as a place of worship of a local religious congregation  and as an accessory use to the main sanctuary.”

This standard will help assure that the facility is located with a local established institution that provides administration and oversight for the housing facility.

2.  Minimum site area shall be 20 acres.

The True Deliverance Church of God and its Victory Transitional Housing facility occupy two contiguous 10 acre lots, for a total of 20 acres.  A minimum lot size will limit the locations where additional facilities could potentially be located, and assure that they are on parcels sufficient in size to provide adequate buffers from adjoining single family R-1 uses.

3.   No more than 15 rooms and no more than 20 people shall be housed at the facility at any one time.

The Victory Transitional Housing facility has 15 bedrooms, currently occupied by 6 families with a total of 16 people.  Some flexibility in the number of people is appropriate in order to accommodate varying family sizes.  Twenty people is the cut-off in the zoning ordinance for minor vs. major medical care facilities, and the cut-off between minor and major residential care facilities is 25 people.  As a comparison, if a 20 acre R-1 property were to be developed in single family homes, a maximum of 18 units could be developed.

4.   Residents of the facility shall be primarily family groups, shall be limited to no more than a one year stay, and shall be required to participate in a structured program or classes designed to facilitate independent living.

Victory residents are limited to one year.  A time limitation is critical to ensure that the building does not evolve into long-term housing rather than transitional housing.

5.   Facilities shall be located within service districts or must have approval for adequate septic and well requirements by the Health Department.

The sewer and water demands of such a facility are likely to be significant and therefore are best suited for location within service districts.  However, the Victory Transitional Housing facility is not within a service district and will have to provide additional septic and water facilities to meet Health Department regulations.

6.   At least one parking space shall be provided per family, and such parking shall be screened from view from adjoining properties.  Where possible, the parking spaces for the sanctuary shall be utilized to meet this requirement in order to avoid additional paving on the site.

One benefit of having the housing co-located with the church sanctuary is that the need for additional parking spaces to be constructed on the site can be minimized, if the housing is located near the sanctuary.  However, in the case of the subject facility, the sanctuary parking is fairly far removed from the housing, necessitating additional parking.

7.  Usable outdoor play space shall be provided for residents and screened from adjoining properties.  The amount and location of the necessary open space shall be determined in conjunction with the permit approval.

It is important that the facility, which caters to families, have designated space available for children to play and adults to recreate.  The designation of spaces will assure that children at play and adults recreating are placed at the areas least likely to impact adjoining neighbors.

8.   The building containing transitional housing shall be setback a minimum of 100’ from the side and rear property lines.

No plan has been provided for the Victory Housing facility, but it appears, from scaling the aerial photographs, that the building is set back about 45’ from the side property line.   While a typical single family home is set back 25’ from the property line, a larger setback for this larger building housing more people would make it less intrusive to the overall neighborhood.  Staff recommends a 100’ minimum setback.  While the Victory Transitional Housing would not be able to meet this setback, they could apply for an exemption  to this requirement. Alternatively, we could allow modification at the time of SE approval.

Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Board of Supervisors

Fauquier County Family Shelter

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