PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA REQUEST

Sponsor:

Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Planning Commission

 

November 8, 2007

Staff Lead:

Department: 

Kimberley Johnson, Zoning Administrator

Community Development 

Topic:

A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 3-400 to Clarify and Amend Lot Requirements for Cluster Subdivisions

Topic Description: 

Section 3-400 of the Zoning Ordinance establishes alternative lot size, width and setback requirements for all clustered and conventional subdivisions. This text amendment seeks to clarify and amend the requirements for clusters.

 

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

The Zoning Ordinance incorporates lot requirements for both conventional and cluster subdivision development. Minimum lot area is specifically set forth in the table in Section 3-400 for both conventional and cluster development in each zone.  The table also sets forth lot width and yard requirements for conventional development, and provides direction in footnote #2 for determining the lot width and yard requirements for cluster development.  The relevant existing regulations for the rural and residential zones are: 

USE LIMITATIONS

RC9

RA9

RR-2

V

R-1

R-2

R-3

R-415

3-401

Maximum Density (DU/A)1

*

*

0.5

1.4

0.9

2

3

4

3-402

Minimum Lot Size

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(acres or thousand sq. ft.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Conventional2

2a.

2a.

2a.

30

40

20

10.5

10

 

 

2. Cluster

30

30

30

10

25

10

8.5

 

3-403

Minimum Lot Width (Ft.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conventional

400

300

200

90

135

90

80

70

 

 

Cluster

 

 

 

70

 

 

 

 

3-404

Minimum Front Yard (Ft.)4,10,11,12,17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conventional

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   1. Local Collector

75

75

75

50

60

50

50

50

 

 

   2. Major Collector

90

90

90

65

75

65

65

65

 

 

   3. Major Thoroughfare

105

105

105

80

90

80

80

80

3-405

Minimum Side and Rear Yard (Ft.)4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Residential Districts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conventional

50

25

25

15

25

15

15

10

 

 

 

Cluster

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two footnotes in Section 3-400 further address cluster subdivision provisions:

2.   Minimum lot width and yard requirements for cluster development shall be the same as those for the least dense Residential or Rural Zoning District in which the cluster development would be allowed (with respect to lot size), as a conventional development.  See Section 2-414 for corner lots.

15. In the R-4 Zoning District for Single Family detached cluster development, the minimum lot size shall be 5,000 square feet, the minimum lot width shall be 50 feet, and the side yards shall total twelve (12) feet with a minimum side yard of five (5) feet.  Please note that the minimum lot size for single family attached cluster remains as 1,800 square feet.

The text amendment also seeks to bring clarity to the ordinance about what constitutes a rural cluster.  Requirements for RA and RC lots vary depending on whether the lots are conventional lots or cluster subdivision lots.  A third variation in requirements occurs when the lots are created as family transfer or administrative lots; the requirements are summarized below:

                                                                                Minimum Lot Width           Front Yards           Side/Rear Yards

                                Minimum Lot Area                          (feet)                             (feet)                          (feet)             .           

Conventional                       2 acres                   400’ (RC) 300’ (RA)           75’/90’/105’         50’ (RC)  25’ (RA)

Cluster                           30,000 sq. ft.                                90’                          50’/65’/80’           15’

Family/Admin              40,000 sq. ft.                                135’                        60’/75’/90’           25’

The current format of Section 3-400 requires that the cluster provisions for lot width and setbacks be calculated based on the footnote.  This text amendment proposes to place the actual requirements in the table in 3-400, deleting the relevant provisions in the footnote.  This change will bring clarity to cluster provisions.

The text amendment also seeks to clarify what constitutes a “conventional” lot versus a “cluster” lot in the RA and RC zoning districts.  Typically, a cluster is distinguished by the provision of a significant portion of the lot in open space, and the definition of SUBDIVISION, CLUSTER in the Zoning Ordinance supports this concept:

SUBDIVISION, CLUSTER:  An alternate means of subdividing a lot premised on the concept of reducing lot size requirements for the provision of open space in conjunction with the development, all in accordance with the provisions of 2-406.

Under the sliding scale and non-common open space provisions of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance, most developments in the RA and RC zone provide 85 percent open space and would, therefore, under this definition be considered clusters.  The exceptions are divisions of parcels less than 30 acres in 1981 and large lot divisions; both have no open space requirements.  

Therefore, the language of the ordinance currently categorizes any lot created from a parent parcel with a non-common open space requirement as a cluster lot, and that cluster lot is subject to the requirements of the Village (V) zoning district, with a minimum lot size of 30,000 square feet, lot frontage of 90 feet, front setbacks of 50 feet to 80 feet and side setbacks of 15 feet.   These existing zoning ordinance setbacks are provided in the attached table.

Notwithstanding the language of the Zoning Ordinance, the long-standing historic practice in Planning has been to allow cluster lots to be reduced to a minimum of 30,000 square feet, but to utilize RR-2/Residential (RR-2) requirements for lot width and setbacks, resulting in a lot width requirement of 200 feet and side/rear yard requirements the same as for RA non-clusters, 25 foot side yards and 75/90/105 foot front yards.   

Discussion

Three lot characteristics need to be established for the residential clusters:  lot size, lot width and setbacks. 

Lot Size

Lot size is currently not established by the alternate zoning category utilized in clusters, but rather is specifically designated in the table in Section 3-400 to be 30,000 square feet, compared to a minimum of 2 acres for a non-cluster lot.  The existing 30,000 square foot minimum is unachievable for two key reasons.  One, it is almost physically impossible to fit a house plus the required drainfield and reserves on a lot as small as 30,000 square feet.  Two, Section 4-11.1.A of the Subdivision Ordinance requires that any subdivision containing a lot less than one acre in size be served by central water system.  For the small subdivisions typical in rural clusters, central water is typically impracticable.   Staff would therefore recommend that the minimum lot size for rural clusters be increased to one acre, to reflect what is achievable and consistent with other ordinance requirements.

Frontage

Staff has analyzed the application of the Village (V) District width requirement (90 feet) and the RR-2 width requirement (200 feet).  The analysis has shown that the Village (V) District frontage requirement of 90 feet is not generally achievable.  Given that a rural lot is typically at least one acre for the reasons discussed above, a 90 foot wide lot would have a depth of 484 feet, creating a very long, narrow lot where the depth of the lot is almost five times the length of the width of the lot.   This violates Section 4-18 of the Subdivision Ordinance, which requires that lots be generally shaped such that the depth of the lot is no more than 2 ½ times the frontage of the lot.   To meet the lot shape ratio requirement of the Zoning Ordinance, a one acre lot would generally need to be at least 133 feet in width.   

Therefore staff would recommend that the Village (V) District frontage requirement of 90 feet be replaced, at a minimum, with the R-1 frontage requirement of 135 feet.  Alternatively, the 200 foot frontage requirement historically utilized could be incorporated. 

Setbacks

The Village (V) District setbacks provide for a substantially reduced front yard setback for rural clusters, to 50/65/80 feet down from 75/90/105 feet, depending on street type.   Under the historically utilized RR-2 provisions, setbacks for front yards remain at 75/90/105 feet.  These same front yard setbacks also apply to R-1 lots.  Staff believes the somewhat larger setbacks are appropriate for rural areas, where homes are typically set back from the road. 

Under the Village (V) District provisions, side and rear yards are reduced to 15 feet from 25 feet and 50 feet, whereas under the traditional applied RR-2 district, side and year yards remain at 25 feet.  The lesser yards in the V district is intended to facilitate the smaller lots allowed in that district (30,000 square feet).  Given that a rural cluster lot is never likely to be less than one acre, the lesser setbacks are not necessarily needed.  For example, lots in the R-1 zoning district, which are required to be and typically are just under one acre, have side and rear setback requirements of 25 feet.   Therefore, staff is recommending 25 foot rear and side setbacks be maintained for clusters.   Staff would also note that since, historically, a 25 foot setback has been applied to rural clusters, keeping the 25 foot setback would avoid the issue of changed requirements and expectations on thousands of existing rural lots.

As a minor housekeeping matter, the text amendment also places some additional setbacks that are currently required along major arterials in service districts in the table in Article 3; they are currently embedded in a footnote and therefore sometimes overlooked.  

Planning Commission Action

The Planning Commission initiated this text amendment on August 30, 2007, recommending amending the RA and RC rural cluster requirements to utilize the RR-2/Residential requirements for lot width and setbacks, resulting in a lot width requirement of 200 feet and side/rear yard requirements the same as for RA non-clusters, 25 foot side yards and 75/90/105 foot front yards.    This approach is consistent with the long-standing historic practice Planning staff has applied to rural subdivisions.  The attached text reflects the RR-2 recommendation.  The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the text amendment after the public hearing on September 27, 2007.

 

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

Property Owners
Builders

ATTACHMENT:

Proposed Revisions to the Zoning Ordinance

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