March 11, 2012
January 31, 2012
There will be a Public Hearing on a Zoning Ordinance change before Christiansburg Town Council at their next meeting. The Planning Commission has already had a Public Hearing and last night (1/30/12) they voted on their recommendation to Town Council on that change in zoning ordinance. The vote was a tied: 4 members voted against and 4 voted for the Zoning Change. The proposed change will go to Council with no recommendation by the Planning Commission. On the other hand, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to endorse a CUP contingent upon that Zoning change for a large apartment complex in one specific area. I personally believe that the application is correct for the land it is proposed for, but I have some problems with the changing of a Town Zoning Code in order to allow it to happen.
So, what was the change? Well, I’ve included a copy of the proposed change, 2012 District B3 Zoning Change to allow high density residential and it pertains to Article XII. General Business District B-3, Section 30-100. Permitted uses of the Christiansburg Town Code.
The long and short of it is that the proposed code amendment would add this statement: “and for multi-family dwellings, the density of development shall not exceed the ratio of twenty dwelling units per gross acre.”
How does that affect citizens? To really see the potential impact of such a zoning change you need to take a look at the current zoning map. (Since I had some difficulties getting the Town’s page for this to load on my computer, I’ve provided an extra copy here of that document: 2011 Christiansburg, VA Zoning Map.
You really have to look at the map in order to see what properties are potentially affected by this change, which properties will have the door opened for high density residential development. On the map, it is all of those areas designated in “Red” color which includes a large volume of land.
Then, take a look at all of the land currently zoned as R3 (Multi-Family Residential which is “Yellow” on the map). These sections provide for a maximum density of multi-family dwellings of 10 dwelling units per gross acre (per Christiansburg Town Article VI. Multiple-Family Residential District R-3, Section 30-48).
Next note that there are 2 other designations on the Zoning Map: MU-1 (see Article VIII. Mixed Use: Residential-Limited Business District MU-1, Section 30-69 which allows up to 10 dwelling units per gross acre) and MU-2 (see Article IX. Mixed Use: Residential-Limited Business-Limited Industrial District MU-2, Sec. 30-80, which, again, has a maximum of 10 dwelling units per gross acre). What is most important is to look at exactly how much acreage is actually committed to these Zoning types. You’ll be hard pressed to even find them on the map!!! And yet, these two designations were implemented as a means of providing a location for high-density development!!!
These other areas share the common “10 dwelling units per gross acre” and one other feature. They are limited to a maximum of 2 unrelated individuals sharing a residence.
Now, looking at the Town Code (Article XII. General Business District B-3), Sec. 30-99 Statement of intent. provides this:
This district covers that portion of the community intended for the conduct of general business to which the public requires direct and frequent access, but which is not characterized either by constant heavy trucking other than stocking and delivery of light retail goods or by any nuisance factors other than occasioned by incidental light and noise of congregation of people and passenger vehicles. This district shall include such uses as retail stores, banks, theaters, business offices, newspaper offices, printing presses, restaurants and taverns and garages and service stations. In view of the extensive application of the district and the variety of conditions which may be anticipated, residential uses are permitted with a Conditional Use Permit. (Code 1972, § 30-77; Ord. 2004-4 of 9-7-04, § 30-77)
As noted previously, the proposed change in the Zoning Ordinance pertains to Article XII. General Business District B-3 Sec. 30-111 would take the existing Code (Section 30-100. Permitted uses. (a) and change it from the original text:
(a) Any principal use permitted in the R-3 Multiple-Family Residential District, with a Conditional Use Permit, except that uses permitted as conditional uses in the R-3 District but permitted as of right in the B-3 District shall not require a
Conditional Use Permit. Dwellings are subject to the same requirements as in the R-3 District except that a single-family dwelling in association with a permitted office, business or commercial use, in the same building or on the same premises for use by the proprietor or an employee of said business shall be permitted but not subject to said requirements, including one unrelated individual per unit.
to allow for “multi-family dwellings, the density of development shall not exceed the ratio of the twenty dwelling units per gross acre”.
Granted, it will require a Conditional Use Permit which means that depending upon who is in office and how they feel about a particular proposal may be the determining factor in what happens in a neighborhood near you, or in YOUR neighborhood. It also means that citizens will be dependent upon the Town for monitoring and enforcement of the Conditions. (yeah, right, like if a condition gets violated the Town will make someone tear down a bunch of apartment buildings and restore the land). In fact, what would happen if there were violations such as 5 unrelated people sharing the same dwelling? Are there fines? Or, are they just unenforceable words stuck on paper to look good?
Go ahead and take a look at the map. See what areas of Town could be affected by a change in the Zoning Ordinance. Stop and think about traffic problems, the overcrowding of schools, the lack of pedestrian access, limited bus service, impact on existing infrastructure such as water and sewer, and general quality of life related to growth. Of course, given the current economy, it could be that people move out of their homes and into apartments, leaving a lot of empty houses.
At the public hearing, to be held on 2/7/12, Town Council will allow citizens to speak up on the proposed Code change and on the Conditional Use Permit. The packet for that meeting is not available online yet, but it will be there soon. You may want to check the Town’s website often so that you can see what documents Town Council will have before them, or browse through the documents that have been included as part of the Planning Commission Packets for the Jan 30th, and Jan. 23th meetings when these were discussed.
You can also look at the videos of those Planning Commission meetings (http://myvaresources.com/Town%20of%20Cburg/NEWAudioVideo.htm), or Jan. 23rd Planning Commission Videos, and, Jan. 30th Planning Commission Videos are right here:Get the Flash Player to see this player.
July 26, 2011
I’ve heard so much about the deadly lull in development/building in Christiansburg and how hard hit our economy has been that I thought it warranted looking at some of the numbers. http://www.coopercenter.org/demographics/building-permits
The Weldon Cooper Center keeps track of building permits data for Virginia jurisdictions and the data I found for 2010 was quite surprising. Of the 27 Towns for which data is provided, a total of 295 units (est. cost of $41,632,373) were reported. Of that number, Christiansburg had the highest number of units at 103 (est. cost of $9,199,311). The next highest units were recorded for Herndon at 41 (est. cost of $6,551,000), then Warrenton at 30 (est. cost of $3,700,000). (Building permits do not necessarily mean that the unit has been constructed, it simply shows that someone put forth the time and money involved to start the process.) More
June 20, 2011
The Community Planner is a quarterly journal on Planning. What makes it unique is that it is written to provide information to citizens as well as professionals. It is produced on a CD rather than in print because along with the 60 or so pages of each journal, there are also additional features added. For instance, in the article I wrote for the just released Volume I Issue 3, I refer to several tools that can help people understand the Freedom of Information Act and several sources of on-line information that citizens can find useful for determining what documents they need to request. Attached to the article, via links, are 3 pdf files which have a list of websites where you can find information on each state’s Freedom of Information Act, Retention Schedules for documents, and websites for each state’s auditor/Auditor of Public Accounts. More
May 31, 2011
April 4, 2011
I recently opened up the Town Council Agenda Packet for the April 5, Christiansburg Town Council Meeting. As I was browsing and thinking what a good thing it was to see this quality of information out to citizens, I suddenly found myself entering the Twilight Zone! More
March 29, 2011
Introducing The Community Planner
Whether you are a planning professional, an elected or appointed official, or a citizen who wants to have more information and be an active participant in your government, The Community Planner has something to offer you. It is provided on a CD-Rom so there is plenty of room for templates, worksheets, and examples. These articles are written in plain text and definitions/explanations are provided. A variety of formats are used including document files, spreadsheets, and presentations so that you can simply adapt the samples for your own use. Links are provided to a wide range of websites where additional information can be obtained including, but not limited to, how different different jurisdiction’s laws affect the process. By using your imagination, I feel sure that you can find many ways to use these tools beyond just Planning. More
March 27, 2011
There is quite the buzz going on about a Farmer’s Market in Christiansburg. Several different sources of information are available and I have included links to those sources here. If you are interested in being a vendor, the contact information in those sources should provide you with all the information you need to get in at the beginning of this enterprise. More
March 6, 2011
By now, most of you have see the “$100.00″ exercise that came to you with your water bill, was talked about in the newspaper, was posted on the internet, or came to a community/group meeting near you. Some of you have had some questions. And, many of you have had some questions bout the process.
The most important question I have heard from people working through the exercise is that they do not understand why there seems to be duplication of things in the different sections. There are several reasons for that to have occurred. More
February 6, 2011
The new website for the Census Bureau is, in my opinion, a bit cumbersome to deal with. Given that I’m over the 50 year mark in age, I don’t always deal with change real well, but I do deal with it. It took a few hours for me to figure out exactly how to access the information for Christiansburg in the 2010 Census Bureau’s American FactFinder application. Of course, there may also be a side issue in that I just don’t like to read directions. I like to figure things out for myself:)
Anyway, I did locate some information on Christiansburg: More