Density Bonus for Affordable Housing 

ZTA 2005-09



Amend Zoning Ordinance §§ 3.1, 12.4.3, 13.4.3, 14.4.3, 15.4.3, 16.4.3, 17.4.3 and 18.4.3 to add a definition of affordable housing and to change the density bonus regulations for developments providing for-sale and for-rent affordable housing in seven residential zoning disticts.




White, Cilimberg






Planning Commission: September 4, 2007

Board of Supervisors: October 3, 2007


ACTION:     X          INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   









On June 1, 2005, the Board of Supervisors adopted Resolutions of Intent to amend the County’s Zoning Ordinance to reflect the recommendations of the Albemarle County Housing Committee for implementation of the County’s Affordable Housing Policy, specifically to amend the density bonus regulations to promote production of affordable housing.  The Housing Committee’s original recommendation was to allow a 100% increase in density with one-half of the additional units being affordable.


Since that time, the Housing Committee and staff have worked with the Planning Commission to get a recommendation to the Board for adoption.  Several work sessions were held with the Commission from August 2005 through October 2006 with a public hearing on August 15, 2006, at which the Commission did not take action.  On June 13, 2007, a joint work session was held with the Commission and the Board.



By June 30, 2010, working in partnership with others, increase affordable housing opportunities for those who work and/or live in Albemarle County.



The recommendation to amend the current density bonus provisions found in the Zoning Ordinance was first made by the Housing Committee as a strategy in the County’s Affordable Housing Policy adopted in February 2004.  Subsequent to the adoption of this policy, an ad-hoc Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Committee was created to assist the Housing Committee in defining implementation measures for the policy.  The ad-hoc committee also recommended changes to the current density bonus provisions specifically to provide an incentive for developers to consider increased density in exchange for providing affordable housing.  A number of interest groups were represented on the ad-hoc committee including developers, lenders, and nonprofit housing providers/agencies.  The consensus of the group was that the existing density bonus which allowed up to a 30% increase in density but required that all of the units created by the additional density be affordable was not being utilized because it provided no incentive.  The group and the Housing Committee recommended allowing up to a 100% density bonus with one-half of the additional units being affordable.   


It was clear from the first two work sessions with the Planning Commission that a potential for doubling density administratively was not acceptable.  However, the Commission did provide a favorable response to maintaining the 30% density bonus provision with one-half of the additional units being affordable.


Staff identified another weakness in the existing provisions in that it did not restrict who could buy and/or occupy the affordable units based on household income.  The sales price and rental rates were restricted but the ordinance would allow anyone to purchase and/or occupy the units at those restricted prices.  The proposed revisions to the ordinance will provide for the Office of Housing to approve purchasers of for-sale units created through the density bonus.  The revisions also define affordable sales prices and affordable rents on commonly-accepted indices consistent with the definitions proposed as revisions to the Affordable Housing Policy.  The definitions have been recommended by the Housing Committee and are currently used for affordable housing proffers.


During the June 13 work session, at least two Board members and one Commission member indicated that revising the density bonus could create an ordinance that will work as opposed to the current density bonus which has been utilized on only a few projects although it was adopted some twenty years ago.




The Housing Committee and staff recommend that the Planning Commission conduct a public hearing and approve the Housing Committee’s recommendations for amending the density bonus provisions in the Zoning Ordinance as attached and recommend approval by the Board with a public hearing set for October 3, 2007.




Attachment A – Proposed Ordinance Amendments

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