Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:


Planning Commission

August 11, 2005

Staff Lead:



W. Todd Benson, Assistant Zoning Administrator



Community Development



A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 3-404 to Modify Front Yard Requirements in the C-1/Commercial Zoning District


Topic Description:


The proposed text amendment modifies the yard requirements set forth in Article 3, Part 4 of the Zoning Ordinance for commercial uses in the C-1 zoning district.   The amendment would provide flexibility in the yard requirements for commercial uses.    The modifications would be approved by the Zoning Administrator in conjunction with site plan for commercial uses, by the Board of Supervisors when approving a special exception, or the Board of Zoning  Appeals when approving a Special Permit subject to standards established in the Zoning Ordinance.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:


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

Financial Impact Analysis:

No analysis was conducted for this proposed amendment.


Summary Staff Report:


The purpose of this proposed text amendment is to create flexibility in yard requirements for commercial development in the C-1 zoning district.  The existing yard requirements in the C-1 district, pursuant to Sections 3-404 and 3-405 of the Zoning Ordinance, are:


            Front Yard:                  Local Collector                         55’

                                                Major Collector                       70’

                                                Major Thoroughfare                 85’




            Side and Rear Yard:     Adjoining C or I district                          0’;  but if more than 0’,

                                                                                                                    at least 12’

                                                Adjoining Rural or R district                  25’


In January 2004, the Board approved a text amendment providing flexibility in various requirements of the Zoning Ordinance for mixed use projects in the C-1 zoning district.  That amendment was intended to facilitate commercial-residential mixed use development in a form consistent with the traditional character of communities such as Marshall and Bealeton, and included flexibility in yard requirements.


While the areas zoned C-1 are generally planned for mixed use development in the County’s Comprehensive Plan, the uses envisioned and allowed in the district do include freestanding commercial uses.   The recent text amendment does not provide freestanding commercial uses with the yard flexibility now available to mixed-use projects, making it difficult to uniformly achieve a more traditional form of development for the core of several service districts.


The proposed amendment creates yard flexibility for commercial uses.  The existing C-1 yard requirements already allow a side and rear yard setback of zero feet (except along the district boundaries where adjacent to residential or rural zones).  Therefore, flexibility is actually needed only for front yard setbacks, where the existing C-1 provisions call for a 55-85 foot setback, depending on the type of road frontage.  Because many small scale commercial uses in the C-1 zone would require only site plan approval, administrative authority to vary the yards may be critical to the effectiveness of the amended requirements.  The proposed text amendment would add a note to the front yard setback requirements for the C-1 zoning district, allowing administrative approval of a reduction in the front yard setback in conjunction with site plan review and approval for commercial uses.


17.       A reduction in the front yard setback for commercial buildings may be approved by the Zoning Administrator in conjunction with site plan review and approval, by the Board of Supervisors when approving a special exception, or the Board of Zoning  Appeals when approving a Special Permit provided that the approving authority finds that:


A.        the setback provided is consistent with older, established buildings in the immediate area;


B.         the setback is consistent with any design guidelines or requirements established by the Comprehensive Plan, if any such guidelines or requirements exist;


C.        sufficient area is provided to accommodate construction requirements, including drainage; and


D.        sufficient area is provided to accommodate a full streetscape along the street, to include sidewalks and street trees, where appropriate.


Staff would note that this proposed text amendment, as it has been advertised, only provides for variations in yards for commercial buildings, whereas the text amendment approved for mixed use development also provided for variations in lot sizes, widths, open space and parking.  While some of these requirements are not typically as problematic in commercial development, parking is one area that could significantly impact commercial development and the Commission may wish to consider additional flexibility in parking requirements for some or all commercial uses.  Staff can provide additional analysis on this issue if the Commission wishes to consider such additional flexibility.


The proposed text amendment was initiated on May 26, 2005.  The Planning Commission unanimously recommended adoption on June 30, 2005.


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

Board of Supervisors

Economic Development Office