Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Douglas Darling/Frank Cox

July 9, 2009

Staff Lead:


Kimberley Johnson, Zoning Administrator


Community Development



A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 4-100 Related to Planned Residential Development


Topic Description:

The text amendment changes to the Planned Residential Development (PRD) Special District provisions, including language related to uses, form of development, modifications, open space, stormwater management, buffers, transportation, approval, and waiver procedures.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

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


Staff Report:

The PRD district is a special district available through rezoning.  It is intended to facilitate predominately residential development, with limited commercial uses also authorized.  The PRD district has been used at five locations in the County: Brookside, Vint Hill, Cedar Brooke, Raymond Farm (unbuilt), and Freedom Place (unbuilt).   It is important to keep in mind that the proposed revisions would apply to the district as a whole, and could potentially affect existing PRD developments, particularly should they seek to amend existing approvals.


The applicant, Doug Darling, originally proposed amendments to the Planned Residential Development (PRD) district in conjunction with a development he is planning in Marshall. The applicant has filed a Comprehensive Plan Amendment related to the planned development, which is currently pending as an incomplete application.  A detailed staff commentary on each of the applicant’s originally proposed changes to the PRD regulations is attached.    

In general, staff found many of the proposed changes unnecessary, and in some cases confusing or contradictory with existing language.   In response, staff prepared an alternative set of changes to the PRD regulations, taking the issues and clarifications suggested by the applicant’s language and incorporating them in a way that staff believes is more helpful and consistent with the overall goals of the PRD district. 

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed text amendment on January 29, 2009.   At that time, the applicant indicated that he supported the alternative language proposed by staff in lieu of the language changes he had originally proposed.  The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the alternative language on February 26, 2009. 

The Board of Supervisors held an initial public hearing on this amendment on April 9, 2009.  The Board tabled the item for up to 90 days in order to allow Supervisor Schwartz to work with staff on incorporating provisions to promote more traditional design. A second public hearing was held on June 11, 2009 on the updated version of the ordinance.  The updated version of the ordinance requires a traditional form of development for new projects, while retaining the flexibility for already approved PRD projects to maintain their original forms, even if subsequently amended.

A more detailed review of the substantive changes to the proposed ordinance is provided below.

Proposed Changes to the PRD Ordinance

Minimum PRD Size

Currently, the minimum size of a PRD is set at 25 acres, with a 5-acre minimum for additions to an existing PRD.   The amendment reduces the minimum size for a new PRD to 5 acres where the parcel has frontage on the main street of a town or village.  In concept, a PRD addition to a village or town is similar in character to an addition to an existing PRD, and for such additions the minimum is already 5 acres.  The lesser acreage is reasonable in both of these cases, as the 5-acre project is not truly “stand-alone,” but rather an addition to an existing neighborhood or town. (Section 4-102)

Live-Work Units

The existing language of the regulations is not clear on the status of “Live-Work” units in terms of whether they are residential or commercial.  The revised language allows Live-Work units as a principal permitted use, establishing that such units are effectively counted as residential units rather than commercial units.  In addition, the language clarifies that commercial space associated with Live-Work units is not counted toward the maximum commercial allowed, and that such units are only allowed in projects where there are at least 50 dwelling units, except along Main Streets. (Sections 4-103, 4-106.B,D)

Commercial Uses

The existing PRD provisions limit the amount of commercial to 100 square feet for each dwelling unit in the project, with additional commercial allowed to be approved by the Board in higher (2 units or more) density residential developments where a commercial focus is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.  The revised text also allows the Board to approve an increased level of commercial uses where a project abuts a main street of a town or village.

Lot and Building Requirements

Under the existing PRD regulations, an applicant must identify an existing traditional zone (such as R-2/Residential) and utilize the setback and other lot requirements as a starting point for the development.  The Board may waive any of the requirements, but specific waivers must be identified for each lot that does not meet the conventional zoning requirements.  This process has proven somewhat contorted and cumbersome, with every change to every lot having to be identified, justified and approved.   This amendment changes the process, establishing general setback standards that are traditional in form (commercial buildings at the property line, minimal setbacks of 10-20 feet for residential units) and a requirement for a variety of lot sizes, lot widths, unit sizes and unit spacing along streets, with even these requirements eligible for waiver and the actual requirements are established by the approval of the rezoning.   Under both the existing and proposed language, any results are possible with respect to lot requirements, but whereas the existing language pushes toward a conventional form of development, the revised language pushes toward a traditional form of development.          (Section 4-107.A)

The proposed amendment also adds requirements for building form and character.   The existing PRD required the approval of architectural design guidelines as part of the rezoning, but did not establish any particular standard or goal for such guidelines.   The revised language again pushes development toward a traditional form, with an emphasis on building variation, rear loaded garages, and architectural elements, cues, features and materials that are evocative of the Virginia Piedmont.  (Section 4-107.C)

Open Space

The existing open space requirement is 25% within the PRD, and this percentage is maintained, with a notation that lesser open space may be particularly appropriate for a smaller (less than 20 acres) PRD development focused on a main street.   As with the existing PRD provisions, the amount of open space required may be waived or modified by the Board in approving the rezoning.    While the existing PRD has very specific language about the portion of the 25% open space that is required to be “active” in character, the specific requirements have been eliminated in the revised PRD, with the applicant making the overall case for the character of open space provided, both active and passive, as part of the rezoning and justification. (Section 4-109)


The PRD provisions have always allowed the Board to modify almost all provisions of the District or other Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Ordinance requirements upon specific request by the applicant as part of the rezoning.  Additional language has been added to the regulations in the amendment to clarify that the Board can also modify Design Standards Manual requirements as part of the rezoning, upon specific request by the applicant. (Section 4-112)

Approval Process and Documents

The approval process and documents remain largely unchanged in the amendment, with some tweaks to submission materials to be more consistent with rezoning requirements in other districts, the renaming of key documents (to Concept Development Plan and Code of Development) and clarification of what information should be provided in each document.  (Section 4-113)

Language has been added to clarify that the process set up to assure that future development complies with the documents approved by the Board must be a process that is accountable to the public, rather than simply the developer or new homeowners in the project. (Section 4-111)

Standards for Approval

One of the most significant changes in the revised PRD is the replacement of five very general standards set forth as the basis for considering approval with 14 more specific standards for the Board to consider.  The proposed standards are based on the standards recently adopted in the MU-District.  In summary, these standards seek to assure that the proposed PRD development:

·         achieves the stated purpose of the PRD district;

·         provides a sustainable transition to existing development;

·         is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan;

·         provides complementary commercial uses where appropriate;

·         provides for a mix of housing types and sizes;

·         is pedestrian oriented;

·         includes neighborhoods that are attractive and inviting;

·         includes a grid street network coordinated physically with utility placement;

·         provides usable functional open spaces throughout the development;

·         minimizes parking;

·         includes pedestrian oriented lighting and signage;

·         efficiently utilizes the available land and protects natural features;

·         is designed to prevent substantial impact to adjoining uses; and

·         is adequately served by transportation and other public facilities. (Section 4-114)

Existing PRD

In recognition of already approved PRDs in the County, the regulations include language that clearly establishes that any amendments to the regulations are not subject to the new requirements for traditional neighborhood and building forms.  The revised regulations specifically exempt amendments to PRDs from these new provisions and also maintain the old standards for approval of a PRD to be utilized in approving amendments to such PRDs.


Financial Impact Analysis:


No financial impact analysis has been conducted.

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

Department of Economic Development


Applicant’s Original Proposed Changes and Detailed Staff Comments


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