Proposed Comprehensive Plan Text Amendment
To be inserted into the Bealeton Chapter of the Bealeton, Opal and Remington Service District Land Use Plan, on page 6 after b. Commercial/Office/Institutional uses.
In order to help Bealeton in its evolution towards a “pedestrian-friendly” community as delineated in the Vision Statement, mixed-use development is the preferred land use form in the commercial areas. While town center design principles are generally called for throughout the Bealeton, Opal and Remington Service District, the Bealeton Town Center (see Figure BE-2) is specifically planned as a mixed-use area. The wider application of mixed-use urban planning concepts in Bealeton is encouraged in the areas planned for commercial land uses that are specifically targeted for mixed-use development. These targeted areas include those identified on the Bealeton Service District Land Use Plan (see Figure BE-1) for Commercial Office/Mixed Use, Town Center, and Institutional/Office/Mixed Use.
Any proposal for mixed-use development in one of these three areas will need to maintain a strong commercial presence, as these areas were not specifically planned for residential use. Retail, office and institutional uses, together with civic, religious and cultural uses and activities, form the heart of most traditional town centers, and this variety should be the case in the Bealeton Town Center.
Bealeton, being geographically situated at the heart of southern Fauquier County, is well located to serve both local and regional retail shopping demands, and eventually to be a regional center for expanded office and similar uses that further the County’s economic development goals. To complement the existing retail that supports local community and neighborhood shopping demands, the Plan recognizes that these commercial areas can accommodate two segments of the market that are presently un-served or underserved. These two – “main street specialty” and “destination” commercial require a different orientation from strip commercial centers, and they could be incorporated into future mixed-use projects.
“Main street specialty” uses would be located within a pedestrian-friendly environment as embodied in the general and town center design principles and guidelines in this chapter and would include a dense mix of retail, service, dining, civic, office and residential uses. “Destination” commercial could be carefully sited within a “main street specialty” area and would provide a highly accessible location for larger footprint, nationally-branded stores and recreational uses. The “main street specialty” and “destination” commercial areas should be contiguous and be served by a “main street,” such as Church Road or Willow Drive. This would reduce the pressure of intra-area shopping on Route 17 and Route 28.
Residential uses of varying types, densities and demographic focus should be considered for all mixed-use projects. Live/work units or residential units located above first floor commercial uses are examples of residential uses that should be successfully integrated into commercial areas and reflect traditional “town center” forms of development. These types of housing units would broaden housing choice and introduce more housing affordability. Mixed-use areas would also add employment opportunities in the Bealeton area. The mix of residential and non-residential uses should promote convenient access to work, services, recreation and entertainment.
Today, Route 17 exists as a major regional arterial route that is uncomfortably interrupted in Bealeton by highway-oriented commercial development. The Bealeton Service District Vision Statement anticipates the day when Route 17 will cease to be a major regional route at this location and can become the Main Street of Bealeton. In the interim, it is the County’s objective that Route 17 function as the “Bealeton Boulevard”, providing safer, slower and more efficient traffic movements for Service District residents. Streetscape enhancements and traffic calming measures for the boulevard should complement objectives for traffic flow efficiency and safety. Multi-purpose trails should be located on both sides of the boulevard, reasonably separated from the traffic to provide for comfortable, safe use. Intersections should include safe pedestrian crossings. The streetscape design should place an emphasis on landscaping within existing right-of-way, with coordinated landscape treatment to be located on contiguous private properties. To complement this transportation objective, new buildings that front on Route 17 should be designed with appropriate architectural massing, scale and aesthetic presence reflecting a traditional town character. Any parking areas located along the Route 17 frontage should be heavily landscaped in a manner that integrates the traditional town with the otherwise rural character of the Route 17 corridor. Any appearance of a suburban strip must be consciously avoided. In order to calm traffic as it approaches Bealeton, the boulevard design scheme should incorporate appropriate traffic calming and gateway improvements along the approaches to the Service District.
In conjunction with the goal for the Route 17 transportation corridor to be revitalized to a boulevard standard, the Plan designates the extended Church Road and, to a lesser extent, Willow Drive, as local “Main Streets” for the residents of Bealeton. The design for these roads should establish a traditional town-scaled streetscape, functioning at a low operating speed, with on-street parking, streetlights, and direct access to contiguous mixed-uses and residential neighborhoods. The flanking interior roads perpendicular to Route 17, Church Street and Willow Drive should also be developed with a traditional town form, incorporating a range of commercial, residential and civic uses to create a sense of “place” for the community.
Design principles appropriate for a traditional settlement are specified in Section 1 of this plan. These principles are especially critical in mixed-use areas and include:
· Pedestrian orientation;
· A generally rectilinear pattern of blocks and interconnecting streets and alleys, compatible with natural terrain and environmental features;
· Parks, civic spaces and open spaces;
· Buildings and spaces of human scale; and
· Relegated parking behind the principle structures;
For these commercially based mixed-use areas, other design principles also need to be incorporated. These include:
· Buildings and building entrances placed directly behind the sidewalks or in proximity to the sidewalk;
· A focal point (civic building, square, park, monument, sculpture, entertainment feature etc.);
· Two and three story buildings that are designed to create a strong streetscape;
· Two story facades and special architectural treatment for anticipated large footprint, destination commercial uses;
· A mix of uses within buildings;
· Appropriately scaled window and door openings on the first floors;
· Sidewalks of adequate width to accommodate activities such as outdoor dining and cafes;
· Street furniture (benches, planters, lighting);
· Coordinated landscaping and hardscaping, including street trees, pedestrian crossings with special pavers, pocket parks and civic spaces;
· On-street parking;
· Shared parking and loading spaces to minimize the areas of impervious surface; and
· Signage of a size, design and placement in keeping with a traditional main street.
The land use category identified on the Bealeton Service District Land Use Plan as Town Center (#2) is the true center of Bealeton and will continue to be recognized by the Plan as the existing general shopping center district of Bealeton. This area has great potential for long-term redevelopment and, as the center of Bealeton, the highest concentration of uses is anticipated in this area. It is critical that the street network be developed in a grid form, so that new developments incorporate a “town center” form of development. Strip shopping centers and isolated pad sites are no longer acceptable. Vertically integrated, mixed-use buildings are encouraged in this area and should be two to three stories in height. Residential units may be located over commercial or other ground level, non-residential uses. In addition, residential options for this area should include live-work units and multi-family structures.
The land use category identified on the Bealeton Service District Land Use Plan as Commercial Office/Mixed Use (#1) should contain a dominant presence of commercial uses that must include a significant component of office use. A variety of retail and service uses can also be included. This mixed-use area could include a walkable village center for the residential neighborhoods east of Route 17 and north of Route 28. Retail uses in this area should complement the retail viability of Area #2 and other mixed-use areas. Residential uses could include a combination of residential units over commercial uses, live-work units, townhouses or multi-family units. Transportation improvements for this area should incorporate the boulevard streetscape improvements along the Route 17 frontage. It is anticipated that this area will link to the adjacent school sites for both pedestrian and vehicular activity via public streets and pedestrian access.
The land use category identified on the Bealeton Service District Land Use Plan as Institutional/Office/Mixed Use (#4) should also retain a dominant presence of commercial uses, including a significant component of office and institutional uses, such as churches and public safety facilities. This mixed use area could include a walkable village center for the residential neighborhoods west of Route 17 and north of Route 28. Retail uses in this area should complement the retail viability of Area #2 and other mixed-use areas. Transportation improvements for this area should incorporate the main street improvements sought for Church Road and the boulevard streetscape improvements sought along the Route 17 frontage. Residential uses could include a combination of residential units over commercial uses, live-work units, multi-family units, or townhouses.