STA 2008 -01 Private Streets and Single Point of Access



1.       Modify the street standards for private streets.

2.       Limit the number of entrances existing parcels may have onto public streets.



Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, and Fritz; and Ms. McCulley





June 3, 2009


ACTION:       X         INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:              INFORMATION: 








On November 12, 2008, the Board held a public hearing on this proposed subdivision ordinance text amendment, which would amend County Code § 14-404 to reduce the number of entrances allowed onto public roads, amend County Code § 14-412 to change the road standards for private roads serving 2-lot and 3 to 5-lot subdivisions, and amend the applicable requirements for Rural Subdivisions by making the requirements of Section 14-404 applicable to them.   


Copies of the executive summary and the draft ordinance considered at the public hearing are attached as Attachments A and B.  At the close of the public hearing, the Board directed staff to work with the community to identify concerns and alternatives.  On February 26, 2009, staff conducted a Roundtable discussion and a summary of the discussion is attached as Attachment C.



Goal 1:  Enhance Quality of Life for all Citizens

Goal 4: Effectively Manage Growth & Development 

Adoption of regulations designed to improve emergency access (street standard) and minimizes entrances (single point of access) can promote these goals. 



Following is a summary of the key points from the Roundtable discussion and staff comments:


Single Point of Access

The November 4, 2008 draft ordinance provides that the first subdivision plat approved for a parcel (the “parent parcel”) after the ordinance’s effective date would establish a single street to provide access to the subdivision from an existing street.  This single point of access would provide access for all future subdivisions within the boundaries of the parent parcel.  The Planning Commission could waive this requirement.  Single points of access would not be required in non-Rural Areas lands which are subject to the coordination and interconnections requirements of County Code § 14-409.


The following were offered by the Roundtable participants as primary alternative approaches:

·          Apply single point of access requirements only to certain roads.

·          Apply single point of access requirements only to lots having less than a specified minimum frontage.

·          Apply single point of access requirements only to lots under a certain size.

·          Retain existing regulations for access but prohibit additional subdivision for a specified period of time (i.e., phasing).


The Roundtable participants also suggested that administrative waivers from the requirements be authorized for

various reasons such as limiting stream buffer disturbance, minimizing impacts on active agricultural activities, accounting for existing development, multiple frontages, amount of tree removal, and historic resources.  Participants also suggested that the voluntary provision of single points of access could be encouraged by authorizing private street approvals without Planning Commission review.


Staff offers the following comments and recommendations:


Applying single point of access requirements only to certain roads

Staff contacted VDOT to determine a methodology to identify major rural streets.  Generally, streets of over 1,400 vtpd are considered collector streets intended for mobility.  Streets of less than 1,400 vtpd are considered local streets intended for accessibility.  Staff has conducted a preliminary assessment of roads in the County which would be

considered major rural streets.  Attachment D shows the major rural streets in the County that have been identified by staff to date.   Greater regulation of entrances on the higher volume roadways serves to protect the traveling public and preserve the primary purpose of those streets which is mobility.  Staff has identified two options that the Board may want to consider if a traffic volume based approach is desired:

-          Applying the single point of access regulations only to major rural streets.

-          Establishing a different frontage requirement for Rural Subdivisions on major rural streets.  (Current regulation is 250 feet of frontage.)  Fluvanna County uses a similar approach and requires 500 feet of frontage for lots on major streets.  (See the following subsection)


Applying single point of access requirements only to lots with less than a certain minimum frontage.

In the foregoing subsection, staff discussed an alternative approach that would require alternative frontage requirement for lots created on major rural streets.  If the Board chooses to use frontage as the sole criterion to determine whether access requirements should apply, staff would recommend that the single point of access requirements apply if any of the proposed lots have less than 500 feet of frontage. 


Applying single point of access requirements only to lots under a certain size

During the Roundtable discussion it was noted that applying single point of access requirements to large parcels could result in longer internal streets which may have a greater environmental impact than multiple entrances.  Staff acknowledges this could occur.  However, the question arises as to what size parcel would be exempt from the regulations. Very large parcels (those containing several hundred acres) that are developed with a single point of access may very well have road impacts that are more significant than would occur if multiple access was utilized.  However, staff cannot determine what an appropriate acreage would be for an automatic waiver.  Instead staff recommends that waiver be allowed for very large parcels.  These regulations would allow acreage, environmental impacts and other factors to be considered. 


Prohibiting further subdivision for a period of time (phasing)

The final alternative approach suggested at the Roundtable discussion was to establish a holding period for lands subdivided using the Rural Subdivision option before the lands could be further subdivided.  The phasing of subdivisions would effectively prevent the Rural Subdivision as a development tool.  However, the phasing of subdivisions is not enabled under the State Subdivision Law and, therefore, any phasing would have to be addressed by amending the Zoning Ordinance to regulate the use of development rights.  Ultimately, the Board will recall that staff analyzed the effects of phasing when the Board was considering various mountain-related regulations and concluded that phasing merely delayed the impacts sought to be addressed.  In this case, phasing would not reduce the total number of entrances onto existing roads – it would merely extend the period over which they would be created. 



A clear desire was stated by the participants at the Roundtable discussion to include administrative waiver provisions.  These provisions should be specified in the ordinance and be for clearly identifiable reasons such as: complying with VDOT design and interconnectivity requirements, limiting stream buffer disturbance, minimizing impacts on active agricultural activities, accounting for existing development, multiple frontages, amount of tree removal, and historic resources. 


Private road standards

The November 4, 2008 draft ordinance provides that the current minimum road standards for two-lot subdivisions (i.e., 30 foot wide easement, materials and depth of base meeting minimum standards in the Design Standards Manual, and a certificate from an engineer that the road is adequate to accommodate a travelway passable by ordinary passenger vehicles in all but temporary extreme weather conditions) would be deleted.  Instead, 2-lot subdivisions would become subject to the standards currently applicable to 3 to 5-lot subdivisions, which establish minimum standards for vertical centerline curvature, sight distances, turnarounds, street width, radius for horizontal curvature and, in the Rural Areas, establish a minimum travelway width, require paving if the grade exceeds 7%.  These standards would be further amended for roads in the Rural Areas to prohibit grades exceeding 16% and to require that the road have a rectangular clear zone at least 14 feet in both height and width.  The proposed maximum grade and minimum clear zone are currently required for driveways in the Rural Areas by Zoning Ordinance § 4.6.6. (Attachment C).


The following suggestions regarding the proposed private road standards were offered by Roundtable participants:

·          The regulations should clarify how road grades are calculated (e.g., measured over 50 feet or 100 feet) and what topographic information should be used to calculate the grade.

·          Waivers from the 16% grade standard should be permitted to be granted administratively.

·          Specific criteria should be established to guide the waiver process and the criteria should include, but not be limited to, consideration of use of an existing road, the amount of tree removal, and the impacts on stream crossings.

·          Waivers from the requirement that roads exceeding a 7% grade be paved should be permitted if the existing residents do not want the road paved.


Staff has considered the suggestions made by the Roundtable participants and recommends the following revisions to the proposed ordinance:

·          Instead of making private roads serving 2-lot subdivisions subject to the standards applicable to 3 to 5-lot subdivisions, staff recommends that the current private road standards for 2-lot subdivisions be revised to require that they meet the requirements for a driveway in Zoning Ordinance § 4.6.6 (Attachment C).

·          Staff recommends that the standards that would be applicable to 2 to 5-lot subdivisions proposed in the draft ordinance (Attachment B) be revised to apply to 3 to 5-lot subdivisions.

·          Staff recommends that the proposed ordinance be revised to provide that the road’s grade will be calculated over a distance of 50 feet.

·          Staff recommends that the proposed ordinance be revised to include the same waiver procedures and criteria applicable to driveway standards in Zoning Ordinance § 4.6.6.


These recommended changes to the proposed ordinance would make the driveway standards in the Zoning Ordinance and the private road standards for small subdivisions consistent with one another, thereby allowing the objectives of safe vehicular access and public safety to be more fully achieved.



The proposed ordinance will involve additional Planning and Engineering staff time.  The single point of access regulations will result in additional waiver requests.  No budget impact is anticipated from amending the private road standards.



On the issue of the single point of access, staff recommends that the Board give direction to staff as to which, if any, alternative approaches should be pursued and how waivers should be allowed.  On the issue of the private road standards, staff recommends that the Board direct staff to revise the proposed ordinance as outlined above.


The proposed revisions would either clarify or make less restrictive, however slight, the regulations in the November 4, 2008 draft ordinance.  However, staff recommends that the Board hold a public hearing to allow public comment on the revised ordinance before taking action.  If the Board desires the Planning Commission’s recommendations on the proposed revisions, it should refer the proposed ordinance back to the Commission.



A – November 12, 2008 Executive Summary

B – Draft ordinance dated November 4, 2008

C – Zoning Ordinance § 4.6.6

D – Map showing major rural streets

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