The Land Use
Plan provides direction for physical development in the County. It reflects the
"Community Vision Statement" as well as the County's projections for
economic, population, and housing demands. It balances these projections
against growth management goals and emphasizes the preservation and intelligent
utilization of limited resources. The Plan recognizes existing land use
arrangements, supporting facilities, and physical development limitations. The
Land Use Plan recognizes the County's existence in a regional setting and
attempts to integrate the County's physical development with that of
neighboring jurisdictions. Such integration may be enhanced by future analysis
and cooperative regional planning efforts similar to the cooperative planning
The Land Use Plan is but one element of the Comprehensive Plan, and must be viewed as interrelated and interdependent with other goals and objectives. Proper Comprehensive Plan decisions must be made by reviewing the Land Use Plan in concert with all other Plan elements.
The Land Use Plan provides guidance for development that will be harmonious to the natural and man-made environments and consistent with the County's Growth management goals-which are to channel development into designated Development Areas while conserving the balance of the County as rural areas.
In this section, the Neighborhood Model, a key component in the Land Use Plan, and its goals are outlined. A general description of Development Areas is followed by functional descriptions of the three types of Development Areas: the Urban Area, Communities, and Villages. Thereafter, General Principles and standards for physical development in the Development Areas, and specific standards for nonresidential land uses are outlined. Finally, the Development Areas are profiled through narratives and maps that convey both descriptive references and visual impressions of land-use relationships.
The Neighborhood Model
The Land Use Plan relies heavily on the Neighborhood Model that was appended to the Comprehensive Plan in 2001. The Neighborhood Model supports a change in the form of urban development from what currently exists. It recognizes that, if the Development Areas are to be the primary areas receiving residential growth, density must be increased to at least the low end of the
density scale that is recommended on the land use plans for the individual Development Areas. To achieve that density, the form of development must change and that form must be more urban and less suburban.
Another key element is that master planning process guide growth in the Development Areas. Also included with the Neighborhood Model are descriptions of innovative design tools for creating more urban livable neighborhoods. Master Planning and ordinance revisions require time for writing, adoption, and implementation. It is important that the ordinance revisions are designed and written to be user friendly and that they contain appropriate incentives to encourage the desired higher quality, higher density forms of development as anticipated by the Neighborhood Model. As a result, there will be a time lag between the adoption of the Neighborhood Model and its full implementation. It is intended that the parts of this Plan which do not require a Master Plan or ordinance revision, including but not limited to the 12 Principles described in later paragraphs, will guide a new form of development for the County’s designated Development Areas.
What the Neighborhood Model Offers
The Neighborhood Model seeks to change the form of development from a pattern of sprawling, isolated buildings to a more compact and interconnected design. The Neighborhood Model:
1. Accommodates walkers, bikers, and public transportation so that mobility can be a reality for the elderly, the young, and those with limited access to automobiles.
2. Makes open space integral to overall design so that residents and workers can walk to a public park, experience preserved natural areas, and enjoy public gathering spaces.
3. Keeps buildings and spaces at a human scale so that street views are attractive and pedestrian –friendly.
4. Incorporates varying densities and gradually allows for an overall increase in density in the Development Areas to meet the goals of the Comprehensive Plan.
5. Contains a mixture of residential and non-residential uses so residents have convenient access to work, to services, and to entertainment.
6. Requires interconnected streets within developments and between developments so that pedestrians can walk easily to many destinations, traffic has alternative routes, and car trips are reduced in number and length.
7. Moves off-street parking out of sight and encourages on-street parking.
8. Mixes housing types and markets so that a full range of housing choices is offered within the neighborhood.
9. Emphasizes re-use of sites.
10. Adapts development to site terrain so that natural topography can be preserved.
11. Maintains a clear boundary between Development Areas and Rural Areas.
12. Provides for neighborhoods to have a designated center to bring diverse and continuous activity to a neighborhood.
The Neighborhood Model Goals:
Goals for the Neighborhoods are as follows:
· Centers – Neighborhoods within the Development Areas will have centers or focal points for congregating. These may include schools, parks, places of worship, civic centers, or small commercial and social areas. Such features will be an easy walk for most residents in the neighborhood,
· Open Space – Each Development Area will offer opportunities for public and private outdoor recreational areas for active and passive recreation.
· Network – A network of streets, bikeways, pedestrian paths, and bus routes will connect new neighborhoods as well as existing residential areas and nonresidential districts.
· Mixed Uses – Neighborhoods will contain a true mix of uses, including residences, shops, and places of employment, as well as civic, religious, and cultural institutions.
· Building Placement and Scale – Consideration will be given to massing, height, setbacks, and orientation of buildings so that these characteristics enhance the public realm. In particular, garages will be less dominant at street view than houses.
· Alleys – Where topography permits, alleys will provide rear access to parcels, allowing for and facilitating the provision of garages and utilities to the rear of houses.
· Relegated Parking – Parking for the automobile will not result in an excessive amount of paved area; parking on the street will be the norm, and the preference will be for parking lots to be located to the rear and/or sides of buildings.
· Variety of Housing Types – Each neighborhood will possess a variety of housing types accommodating a range of incomes. Affordable units will be dispersed throughout the Neighborhood and will be visually indistinguishable from other units.
· Appealing Streetscapes – As the fundamental element of public space within the neighborhood, the street will make the neighborhood inviting with street trees and landscaping. Sidewalks or paths that connect houses to each other and to centers and common areas will be the norm. Walks will connect sidewalks to front doors and main entrances.
Transportation Options – Convenient routes for
pedestrians, bicyclists, and buses and other transit including light rail will
augment the street network. Public
transit stops will be located within each Development Area. Walking to them will be safe and
convenient. Waiting for transit will be
comfortable and a normal part of activity in the
General Principle for Land Use in Designated Development Areas:
For the County's growth management goals to be achieved, the Development Areas must be attractive places to live and work. The land within the Development Areas must also be used efficiently if designation of these Areas is to realistically help prevent sprawl development. To this end, the Land Use Plan for the Development Areas is designed to concentrate development in the Development Areas, particularly in the locations designated "Urban Areas" or "Communities." Planning for future development in the Development Areas is at densities higher than in the past, with more varied uses. Furthermore, revised plans for the Development Areas emphasize the County's desire for design strategies that are more characteristic of small, well-planned city neighborhoods or towns than of typical low-density suburban areas. Inevitably, some people will experience more significant change than others and will find that nearby land uses may not be the same character as their residential area. However, through careful design of the land use plan and its development standards and recommendations, this situation can be beneficial for the community.
Listed below are the principles that guide development of Development Areas. The Development Areas Land Use Plan, as well as subsequent decisions regarding land use in these areas should be reflective of, and consistent with, these principles:
1. Accommodate new growth in the County within Development Areas.
2. Encourage greater utilization of land in designated Development Areas by achieving higher gross densities for residential and non-residential development than in the past.
3. Encourage infill development of vacant lands and development of under-used areas within the designated Development Areas.
4. Development Areas shall not encroach into water supply watersheds, except for the Crozet Community that shall not be expanded beyond the watershed boundary of the Lickinghole Creek detention basin.
5. Avoid development of "Significant Areas" as designated in the Open Space Plan.
6. Discourage extensive linear style development along major roads.
7. All Development Areas shall be served by public sewer and water.
8. Plan for a system of transportation and community facilities and services that support and enhance the Development Areas.
9. Encourage the provision of affordable housing in a manner consistent with the County’s adopted Affordable Housing Policy (See Housing Policy, Section --, pp. --, of the Comprehensive Plan).
A General Description of Development Areas
OBJECTIVE: Direct growth into designated Development Areas.
long-standing goal of
Development Areas are intended to capture the wide range of development and
land uses necessary in
Functional Description of Development Area
OBJECTIVE: Establish functional descriptions of the Urban Area, Communities, and Villages.
The Development Areas consist of, among other things, a sense of place and community identity. They are discrete areas with recognizable boundaries and internal connections to the places within. There are, for instance, residential areas and commercial areas and mixed-use areas. However, when viewed in the context of the community as a whole, there is a sustainable mixture of residences, jobs, services, recreation and amenities developed in a form that meets the principles and overall objectives of the Neighborhood Model
Three types of Development Areas are traditional to the County's comprehensive planning. As a group, they are intended to provide for the variety of land use designations necessary to meet varied local market demands. They are also considered the focal point for the provision of public services and facilities, either at a countywide or more localized level.
There are no minimum or maximum population standards for the different types of Development Areas. It is intended that the functional descriptions guide the development scale of the Urban Area, Communities, and Villages. Determination of boundaries for each Development Area is necessary to distinguish a self-contained geographic place and preclude sprawl of development. For the purpose of accommodating future growth, boundaries do not necessarily reflect entire existing social communities, but instead attempt to delineate areas with some sense of place that contain significant areas of developable land contiguous to existing developed areas. Boundaries are based on resource protection priorities, primarily water supply watershed areas, and the opportunity for the geographic area to be adequately supported by public services and facilities.
To the greatest extent possible, boundaries are defined by natural and man-made physical features. Because Development Area boundaries do not follow property boundaries, development proposals may extend outside of Development Areas. For those parcels extending from Development Areas into the Rural Areas, development of the Rural Area portion should not exceed Rural Area densities.
The functions of the three types of Development Area are hierarchical, as the following descriptions indicate:
Urban Area (Neighborhoods 1 - 7)
The Urban Area is comprised of:
1. A full array of residential types and densities with an urban character of development.
All service levels of retail, professional
business, and industrial
activities (See service-level descriptions in the Land Use
Designations" section below).
3. Regional employment centers.
4. Regional water and sewer services.
5. Extensive urban and regional public facilities and services.
6. Access from. inter-county and major intra-county roadways and
7. Geographically defined neighborhoods that:
a. Contain well-defined residential areas, which are well integrated with non-residential areas and may include any of the land use designations defined in the "Land Use Designations" section: open space, transitional, neighborhood service, community service, regional service, office/regional service, or industrial service;
b. Are supported by transportation systems that include interconnected streets, pedestrian paths, bicycle circulation systems, and mass transit.
Communities are smaller urban centers that are geographically removed from the Urban Area. Like the Urban Area, they provide for a full variety and range of land uses and densities, both residential and non-residential. They are intended to be more urban, or "town like" in character. Communities are to be supported by a full range of public utilities, facilities, services, and amenities.
Communities consist of:
1. Urban centers geographically removed from the Urban Area.
2. Full range of
residential uses and densities and the full range of
non-residential uses described in the Land Use Designations
3. Community core
of mixed service and residential use, including
community and/or regional services.
4. Regional employment centers.
5. Well-defined residential areas.
6. Major intra-County roadways linked to the Urban Area.
7. Residential areas supported by an integrated and interconnected system of streets; pedestrian and bicycle circulation systems; neighborhood commercial, professional, business, and public service uses; and public water and sewer.
facilities supporting the Communities and surrounding
Villages provide for a specialized opportunity to accommodate growth. It is anticipated that future Villages will more likely be established based on public requests rather than County initiative. Therefore, more detailed design guidelines for future Village designation are provided. Review of future requests for Village designations should be based on these guidelines as well as other applicable goals, objectives, strategies, standards and recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan.
Village Development/Design Guidelines
Villages are places that combine the feeling of "country living" with the amenities of a Development Area.
Villages consist of:
1. A variety of housing types including single-family, two-family and townhouse units, with a gross density not to exceed 6 dwellings per acre.
2. A village center of mixed service and residential uses. Such uses shall be limited to neighborhood scale services, including convenience shopping, other general retail and service uses, medical and professional offices, and accessory apartments and attached housing.
3. Public sewer and water systems. This reflects a concern that, without public utilities, it is not possible to achieve village density or land use patterns which, in turn, serve to protect farmland and rural open space. It also reflects concern for protecting the environment, and for the economical and reliable provision of sewer and water services.
Public facilities which support the Village and
surrounding Rural Area.
5. A linkage to the Urban Area and City of Charlottesville by roads with adequate capacity (traffic-carrying ability, safety considerations, physical condition) in order to move residents conveniently between the Village and the urban core. This guideline reflects a concern for using, but not overloading, the County s main roads (arterial and major collector), and a concern that minor roads (minor collector and local) not become subjected to traffic loads which they cannot tolerate, or which alters their character over time. This also reflects a concept of a Village as including some local services, but not major community or regional services, which are better, provided in the Urban Area.
6. Designated Village Development Areas that are located at places where historically a settlement has existed. The proposed design should be a logical and harmonious outgrowth of what currently remains of that settlement. Most often, such locations will be at a crossroads, which provides a central focus for village activities. A proposal for an entirely new village location should demonstrate that it maintains this principle of a central village area at the logical confluence of streets and movement patterns.
7. Development around a focal point, such as a public building, main street, park, greenway, or other open space or common area. Preferably, this focal point would incorporate an existing natural or cultural amenity. Within a proposed Village, development shall emulate historic regional patterns of village density and design, such that the feel of a traditional village is created. Elements, which can contribute to such a quality, could include:
§ A rectilinear or interconnecting street pattern without cul-de-sacs;
§ Connections to existing streets;
§ Compact lots;
§ Shallow front/sideyard setbacks;
§ A village center of mixed uses and public facilities and spaces;
§ Walkways and paths which encourage pedestrians to be the dominant mode of travel within the village center; and
§ Preservation and reuse of existing structures.
8. “Edge treatments” in keeping with the Neighborhood Model. Where the boundaries of the Village meet the Rural Areas, new development should be sensitive to existing character in the rural areas.
9. A unified Village plan developed in accordance with the requirements for a planned development. In particular, the impact of the plan on existing development should be emphasized. It is expected that consideration will be given to the needs and wishes of those already living and owning property in the area.
Infill Development Policy
OBJECTIVE: Facilitate infill development, including redevelopment of existing structures or new development of vacant and under-utilized areas, within existing Development Areas.
For the purposes of this Plan, infill development is defined as the establishment of new land uses, either residential or non-residential, on undeveloped or under-developed sites within the designated Development Areas. Infill development is considered one of the key initiatives for implementing the growth management policy and is encouraged for the following reasons:
· To use Development Area lands in the most efficient manner possible.
· To discourage sprawl development.
· To maximize the use/support of community services and facilities (roads, utilities, transit, other services).
In the Development Areas, undeveloped areas consist of both small tracts of land (5 acres or less) and large tracts (over 100 acres). The reasons why these areas have not developed to date vary, but the primary reasons which can be cited are:
· The property owners desire to retain existing use and/or are unwilling to sell for development at this time.
· Physical characteristics such as topography (slopes, soils, streams), size/shape of property make development more difficult as well as incompatible existing adjacent uses.
· Condition of existing roads, utilities or possibly other community services are not able to accommodate anticipated scales of development.
· Proposed public projects on, or near, vacant areas often affect planning and development potential of an area.
Also, the cost to develop infill lots is often relatively high compared to other sites. This is due to the fact that these areas are often surrounded by developed or zoned properties which tend to escalate the speculative value of the property. The potential for public/neighborhood opposition to new development proposals adjacent to existing developed areas can also limit developer interest, particularly for smaller sites. Consideration of permitting more intensive uses or densities on some properties may be necessary to offset development costs including measures necessary to
minimize impacts of development. A commitment of the County to support infill development proposals consistent with the Comprehensive Plan is essential in facilitating infill development. To help achieve infill, an inventory of undeveloped and underdeveloped properties within the County’s urban neighborhoods, communities, and villages which are available for development should be updated annually.
The Master Planning effort for each Development Area will help to implement infill development and will address impediments limiting the opportunity or attractiveness of sites for development. It will also encourage market forces to operate in a manner that makes these areas attractive for development. This commitment will include making changes to existing ordinances and the adoption of new ones to encourage infill development and/or the participation by the County in infrastructure capital projects designed to promote infill development.
Strategies for Infill Development
Plan/provide for necessary infrastructure improvements that are currently impediments to development of vacant sites.
· Schedule public improvements needed to support/encourage infill development within undeveloped portions of the Development Areas;
· Develop plans for proposed public projects in a timely fashion so that they may be incorporated into new developments, as necessary.
Strategy: Provide for greater flexibility
in type of use and density of
· Provide for greater flexibility in gross development densities within the Land Use Plan residential categories, with a focus on increasing gross densities.
· Consider rezoning vacant properties designated for residential use to reflect the recommended densities of the Land Use Plan.
· Support innovative development and design concepts, particularly those that maximize gross density of development.
· Promote a mixture of uses for new development and redevelopment.
Strategy: Consider greater flexibility in development regulations which may limit development opportunities (without compromising issues of general health or safety).
· Evaluate and amend zoning and subdivision regulations in a manner that results in opportunities for increased development densities (including, but not limited to: critical slope regulations and open space requirements; reduction of area requirements for planned developments; density bonus provisions; commercial parking requirements, subdivision street and lot access requirements; possible impediments to "alternative" development designs).
· Utilize the Open Space Plan Development Area Composite Maps as a guide for waiver requests from the critical slopes regulations.
Land Use Standards for Designated Development Areas
Land Use standards provide guidelines for development which are consistent with the Growth Management goals and are in keeping with the man-made and natural environment. These standards provide the basic framework for the review of development proposals for the Development Areas, in conjunction with other applicable ordinances and regulations.
The twelve principles contain the characteristics which the Development Areas are to reflect at buildout. However, it is recognized that as individual proposals are considered, all of the principles of the Neighborhood Model, listed as the General Land Use Standards, below, may not be equally applicable to any specific proposal. All proposals will need to be considered in a more global context, particularly as they relate to the mix of uses. It is recognized that there are multiple applications of the principles of the Neighborhood Model and balanced, rational and reasonable application of those principles is expected.
General Land Use Standards
Standards that apply to all types of development in the Development Areas are provided as "General Land Use Standards." These standards include the twelve principles of the Neighborhood Model. More specific standards for non-residential and residential land uses are provided to address the different locational and surrounding character aspects of those categories.
Pedestrian Orientation – A pedestrian orientation should be reflected throughout the Development Areas. Sidewalks and pedestrian paths should be provided in new developments, redevelopment projects and in County projects funded through the Capital Improvements Program.
Neighborhood-Friendly Streets and Paths -- Streets should be recognized for their function within neighborhoods rather than merely transportation routes for cars. Curb and gutter, sidewalks and street-trees help to give streets a more human scale.
Interconnected Streets and Transportation Networks – Connections between developments with an appropriately scaled transportation network should be provided to maximize a sense of community and provide additional transportation links. Emphasis is placed on linkage between developments and just not within each development. Minimize t The impact of developments should be minimized on major roads to the greatest extent feasible by limiting access points to major roads arterials such as Route 29, by providing side street access, service roads, and/or joint accesses. Provide for Ultimate future transportation improvements and new road locations should take place through the reservation of adequate right-of-way and by designing and constructing utilities in a manner consistent with planned transportation improvements. While interconnected street systems will be the primary form of interconnection, other modes of travel should be incorporated into the transportation system including bikeways, pedestrian paths and mass transit.
Parks, Recreational Amenities, and Open Space – Parks and recreational amenities should become centralized features in the Development Areas and in individual developments. Important environmental features, such as floodplains, critical slopes, and forested areas shown on the County’s Open Space Plan, should be protected and preserved as open space. Development should be concentrated and clustered around these features to the maximum extent possible and provide vistas for public enjoyment. Existing forested areas acting as buffers between subdivisions should be maintained.
Neighborhood Centers – A neighborhood center provides a focal point for residents and pedestrians. Centers may be employment hubs, areas of mixed uses, parks, places of worship, or other activity areas. Centers should be recognized and enhanced within neighborhoods. New centers should be built with pedestrian access in mind.
Buildings and Spaces of Human Scale – New and redeveloped buildings should be sited and arranged to emphasize a positive relationship between pedestrians and buildings and to provide appropriate spatial enclosure. As a rule, building orientation should be to public streets and to private streets when the private street is in located in front of the building. Yards should be shallow in order to allow for good spatial enclosure. Massing and scale should be appropriate to the area in which buildings are proposed. Attention should be paid to architectural details.
Relegated Parking – Parking should be located to the side and rear of structures and generally should not be the dominant feature seen from the public road or other adjacent areas. New development or major redevelopment design plans should include features to prevent impact from impervious surfaces on water quality. Parking areas, roads, and other impervious areas should meet only the reasonable needs of the proposed use and possible future uses. Avoid parking areas which exceed that which is necessary for the anticipated development. For large retail developments, parking capacity needed only on a few peak shopping days of the year is amenable to design alternatives to flat blacktop.
Mixture of Uses --Where appropriate, residences can exist side-by-side or within close proximity to shops and places of employment, as well as civic, religious, and cultural institutions.
Mixture of Housing Types and Affordability—The Development Areas should reflect a variety of housing types and costs and be provided in a manner consistent with the County’s adopted Affordable Housing Policy (See Section -- of the Comprehensive Plan). Unless a mixture of housing of housing can be found in close proximity to an infill site, new development proposals should offer a variety of housing types for different income levels. The Development Areas are recognized as the most appropriate places in the County for affordable housing. Provision of services to the Development Areas as well as a more compact area for development increases opportunities for use of transit. The Development Areas also offer opportunities for housing to be in close proximity to jobs, shopping, parks, and public schools. Affordable housing should not be built in “enclaves; rather, it should be incorporated into new housing developments and units should have a similar exterior appearance to other units in the neighborhood.
Redevelopment –The County and developers alike should concentrate on redeveloping existing sites where the capacity of development has not been met. Adding second stories to buildings and mixing residential uses with commercial uses make for better urban/rural relationships and can reduce pressure to expand the Development Area boundaries. Adaptive re-use of historic buildings to uses which preserve the building’s architecture and site character should be encouraged as a method of historic preservation.
Site Planning that Respects Terrain – New development and redevelopment should reflect sensitivity to existing grades to the greatest extent possible and promote architectural design that fits into grades. Emphasis should be placed on preserving areas of environmental sensitivity shown on the Open Space Plan. Where extensive grading is necessary, site grading should result in slopes that are attractive, functional, easy to maintain, and which promote interconnectivity of parcels.
Clear Boundaries with the Rural Areas –Distinctive boundaries should be made between the Development Areas and the Rural Areas. In most cases, development should abut the rural boundary rather than transition down to it.
Fiscal Impact Analyses – The County should continue to consider fiscal impact models and studies when evaluating future land use changes prior to rezoning approvals. Appropriate planning/phasing of development to match service/infrastructure availability and capacity should be established.
Specific Standards for Residential, Commercial, and
In addition to the general standards noted above, residential standards are presented here as a basic framework to guide future residential development proposals. It should be recognized that substantial changes in the economy, housing market, and housing industry may warrant flexibility in the application of these standards. These standards are intended to encourage the provision of various housing types and provide for affordable housing. It is intended that all dwelling types and forms of ownership be permitted within the County.
1. The twelve principles of the Neighborhood Model do not speak directly to density; rather they describe the characteristics desired in the physical development of the land. These physical characteristics are expected to enhance opportunities for greater densities. It should be understood that, in the short term, an overall increase in density may or may not occur as a result from the adoption of the Neighborhood Model. However, it is intended that where possible, and practical due to terrain, availability of public utilities and adequate public infrastructure and consistency with the Neighborhood Model, that overall development density, be at as high a level as practical.
2. Provide for affordable housing units for low and moderate-income families. Set specific targets for the development of affordable units with sufficient flexibility to allow for negotiation based on the development’s size, location, timeline, and nature of the surrounding area. At a minimum, 15 percent of all units within development projects should be affordable as defined by the County’s Office of Housing and Housing Committee. Encourage the use of the bonus provisions of the Zoning Ordinance to increase density and provide for affordable housing is encouraged. Where demonstrated, by economic or other considerations, that density in excess of that recommended by the Plan is warranted to accommodate an affordable housing proposal, a reasonable density increase should be provided.
3. In rezoning deliberations, the County should be mindful of the intent to encourage infill development, contain most future growth within designated Development Areas, and avoid rural development pressure. Unless contrary to matters of public health and safety, residential rezoning to the upper end of the Comprehensive Plan recommended land use density-ranges (i.e. Neighborhood or Urban scale) should be favored even if the density exceeds that of surrounding developments.
4. Maintenance of the integrity of residential areas can be accomplished with standards for the relationship of residential use to adjacent non-residential uses. Buffering, screening and physical separation of non-residential uses can alleviate such relational problems. The current provisions of the Zoning Ordinance addressing the screening of objectionable features and dissimilar uses provide for appropriate protection. These features should be retained. In addition to these regulatory requirements, care should be taken in residential design to provide for buffering, orientation, and other measures to avoid conflicts with surrounding uses. Identification of appropriate land use relationships is important in applying land use designations as well as in considering development proposals.