PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA REQUEST

Sponsor: 

Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Planning Commission

 

October 11, 2007

Staff Lead:

Department: 

Kimberley Johnson, Zoning Administrator

 

Community Development

 

Topic:

A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 15-300 to Change the Definition of “Lot”

Topic Description: 

Section 15-300 of the Zoning Ordinance provides a definition of “Lot” that is not consistent with other provisions in the Zoning Ordinance or with historic practice in applying the Zoning Ordinance.  This text amendment seeks to clarify the meaning of “Lot” as utilized in the Zoning Ordinance.

 

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the proposed amendment (Attachment 1).

 

Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.

 

Summary Staff Report: 

Background

It has recently been noted that the definition for “Lot” contained in the Zoning Ordinance does not always define a lot as a legal parcel of record, but rather sometimes allows an owner to designate the boundaries of a “Lot” regardless of legal lot lines.  

Specifically, Section 15-300 provides the following definition of “Lot”:

LOT:  For the purpose of this Ordinance, a parcel of land that is designated at the time of application for a special permit, a special exception, a building permit or a residential/non-residential use permit, as a tract all of which is to be used, developed or built upon as a unit under single ownership. A parcel of land shall be deemed to be a lot in accordance with this definition, regardless of whether the boundaries thereof coincide with the boundaries of lots or parcels as shown on any map of record.  For purpose of residential development only property under single ownership divided by a private street or a public street shall be considered as one lot providing the following is not involved:

A.   The street is not an interstate or primary highway.

B.   The street is not a zoning district boundary which divides the property.

C.   The residential development is not proposed as a conventional development.

This language was added to the Zoning Ordinance in 1981, with the adoption of the new ordinance.  It appears to have been based on the Fairfax County Ordinance, which was utilized as a model for the 1981 regulations.  The current Fairfax County definition of “Lot” is similar in many respects:  

LOT: For the purpose of this Ordinance, a parcel of land that is designated at the time of application for a special permit, a special exception, a Building Permit, or Residential/Non-Residential Use Permit, as a tract all of which is to be used, developed or built upon as a unit under single ownership. A parcel of land shall be deemed to be a lot in accordance with this definition, regardless of whether or not the boundaries thereof coincide with the boundaries of lots or parcels as shown on any map of record.

The definition seems to limit the ability to designate a lot to applications for special permit, special exception, building permits and residential/non-residential use permits.  The meaning of “residential/non-residential use permit” is also not entirely clear, as this is not terminology currently utilized in other locations of the ordinance.    No alternative definition of “Lot” is provided for the types of applications not listed above (e.g. subdivisions, site plans).  

The purpose of this proposed amendment is to seek clarification from the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors as to their intent with respect to defining lots, and to provide clearer language within the ordinance in support of that intent.

Discussion

The term “Lot” is utilized throughout the ordinance as a basis for determining various requirements.  For example: density is calculated on a lot by lot basis; yard requirements establish setbacks from lot lines; landscaping buffers are required at lot lines; and parking is required to be on the same lot or an adjacent lot as the development.    Historically, in each of these cases, and most other cases where the term “lot” is utilized in the zoning ordinance, “lot” has been interpreted to mean a lot as recorded in the land records of the County, and various requirements are calculated on the basis of these legal lots of record.

The existing definition for “Lot” in the ordinance is therefore not consistent with its historic application.  Staff is suggesting revised language that establishes the definition of a “lot” to be a legal lot of record.

The Planning Commission initiated the proposed text amendment on July 26, 2007.  Staff subsequently proposed additional language be added to the definition to clarify that where an existing legal lot of record was split by a public road that such parcel is considered two lots, one on each side of the street, consistent with longstanding interpretation of the zoning and subdivision regulations.   The Commission held a public hearing on the amended text amendment on August 30, 2007 and voted unanimously to recommend approval.

 

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

Commissioner of the Revenue

ATTACHMENTS:

1.      Proposed Revisions to the Zoning Ordinance

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