COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Work Session on Family Divisions/Private Streets

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Work session to discuss potential ordinance changes to permit division of land where multiple dwellings currently exist.

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Graham, and Fritz

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

November 4, 2009

 

ACTION:     X          INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   No

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

BACKGROUND:

On August 5, 2009, the Board of Supervisors heard an appeal of a subdivision denial for Timmy Wyant in which Mr. Wyant sought the proposal approval of a family division.  The property was developed with two houses and was served by an access easement that was shared with several other parcels.  In order for the subdivision to be approved, the entrance onto the public street had to receive VDOT approval.  The existing entrance does not meet VDOT sight distance standards and the applicant does not control the land necessary to provide adequate sight distance to meet the requirements.  Further, the access easement is not approved as a private street. 

 

Approval of the family division required private street approval.  This would require the approval of all the properties that the access easement crosses between the property being divided and the public street.  The applicant requested that the Board defer action on the appeal to allow staff and the applicant to identify possible solutions that would permit approval of the subdivision.  The Board also requested that staff review the circumstances of the case to determine if any revisions to ordinances or policies would be appropriate to address the situation. 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 4:  Effectively Manage Growth and Development

Adoption of regulations designed to address access and multiple dwellings in the Rural Areas can promote this goal. 

 

DISCUSSION:

Four options have been identified:

 

1.                   Revise the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances to allow the creation of family division lots without street frontage.

2.                   Revise the Zoning Ordinance so that only one dwelling per lot is permitted unless the lot has public street frontage.

3.                   Revise the Zoning Ordinance so that only one dwelling is permitted on a lot unless approval from VDOT is received.

4.                   Revise the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances so that lots that have two dwelling as of a set date may be divided so that each lot is on a separate parcel without the need for private street or VDOT approval.

 

1.         Revise the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances to allow the creation of family division lots without street frontage.

 

When an existing access easement serves a lot, the County has not required that all lots crossed by the easement agree to it being approved as a private street as a condition of family division approval.  Recently, the County Attorney’s Office has advised that this was an incorrect application of the ordinance because the lands being approved as a private street were included as part of the subdivision and, therefore, the consent of the owners of all parcels crossed by the access easement was required, as provided by state law and the Subdivision Ordinance.  Therefore, all subdivisions, including family divisions, will be required to receive approval from all parcels crossed by the easement prior to receiving County approval if a private street is required.  Amending the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances to allow the creation of family division lots without street frontage would allow family divisions to continue to be processed as they historically have been, and without the need for approval of a private street. 

 

2.         Revise the Zoning Ordinance so that only one dwelling per lot is permitted unless the lot has public street frontage.

 

Provided that all density, development rights and other criteria are met, current regulations allow two or more dwellings to be located on a parcel.  Revising the Zoning Ordinance so that only one dwelling per lot is permitted unless the lot has public street frontage would limit development in the Rural Areas and prevent multiple dwellings from being constructed on a parcel in a manner that may make future division difficult or impossible.  This proposal may reduce the number of new dwellings constructed in the Rural Areas but is not intended to reduce the total number of potential dwellings.  The same number of dwelling could be constructed but would require a subdivision plat to be approved prior to the construction of multiple dwellings. 

 

3.         Revise the Zoning Ordinance so that only one dwelling is permitted on a lot unless approval from VDOT is received.

 

Currently, if a lot is served by an existing entrance no additional VDOT approval is required for the construction of the second dwelling on the parcel. This can result in two dwellings being located on a parcel but not being able to subdivide due to an inability to obtain approval of either a new private or public street to serve the lot or because the entrance onto the state road is inadequate.  Revising the Zoning Ordinance so that only one dwelling is permitted on a lot unless VDOT approval is obtained would limit development in the Rural Areas by preventing multiple dwellings from being constructed on a parcel.  However, it also would prevent the creation of circumstances where future division is difficult or impossible and would prevent increased usage of entrances that are below minimum standards.  

 

4.         Revise the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances so that lots having multiple dwellings as of a set date may be divided so that each lot is on a separate parcel without the need for private street or VDOT approval.

 

Such a revision would permit the division of land so that existing dwellings can be located on individual parcels.  This revision would not increase development potential but would allow the sale of dwellings that may currently only be rented.  As this proposal would apply only to situations where the dwellings already exist, the land impact would be neutral.  Because the dwellings already exist, the only new feature would be a property line between the dwellings.  No additional dwellings or traffic would be generated. 

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

Staff does not anticipate any of the listed options would result in changes to funding or staff needed for review of subdivisions. 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends that the Board Consider Options 2 and 4. 

 

2.         Revise the Zoning Ordinance so that only one dwelling per lot is permitted unless the lot has public street frontage.

4.         Revise the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances so that lots that have two dwelling as of a set date may be divided so that each lot is on a separate parcel without the need for private street or VDOT approval.

 

Option 2 would prevent multiple dwellings from being constructed on property in a manner that makes future division difficult or impossible.   Option 4 would allow those who have previously constructed multiple dwellings to divide the parcel so that each dwelling could exist on its own, separate lot. 

 

In effect, either of these two options close an existing problem with the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances that allow multiple dwellings on a single parcel but which may prohibit division of the parcel due to factors that may be beyond the subdivider’s control.

 

ATTACHMENTS

August 5, 2009 Executive Summary
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