COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Nonconforming lots – definition and regulations

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Public hearing to consider amendment to County Code Chapter 18 sections 2.1.4 - Reduction of lots or areas below minimum prohibited, 3.1 - Definition of nonconforming lot, and 6.4 - Nonconforming lot regulations. 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, and MacCall, and Ms. McCulley

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

December 2, 2009

 

ACTION:     X          INFORMATION: 

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:             INFORMATION: 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

BACKGROUND:

A nonconforming lot is a lawful lot of record existing on the effective date of the zoning regulations applicable to the zoning district in which the lot is located, but which does not comply with the minimum applicable size or other lot requirements of that zoning district.  A typical nonconforming lot is one that existed before the 1980 Zoning Ordinance was adopted that fails to meet the current minimum lot size, street frontage, or other lot requirements of the Zoning Ordinance.  County Code § 18-6.4 allows nonconforming lots to be used for existing nonconforming uses and the uses allowed by the underlying zoning regulations.  County Code § 18-6.4 also allows nonconforming lots to be divided, combined with other lots, or to have one or more of its boundary lines adjusted, provided that certain findings can be made.  For all boundary changes involving nonconforming lots, the zoning administrator must find that the resulting lot or lots more substantially conform to the Zoning Ordinance’s general regulations found in County Code § 18-4 and the area and bulk regulations for the zoning district in which the lot is located. County Code § 18-6.4(C)(2).  For boundary line adjustments, the owner must also show that one lot sharing the boundary to be adjusted is a conforming lot and the boundary line adjustment does not make the conforming lot nonconforming or the nonconforming lot more nonconforming. County Code § 18-6.4(A)(2).  These standards, particularly the finding required of the Zoning Administrator under County Code § 18-6.4(C)(2), have precipitated repeated variance requests because the Zoning Administrator could not make the required findings.  Virginia law provides that local zoning regulations that create recurring requests for variances should be addressed through an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance.

 

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on this zoning text amendment on October 6, 2009 and recommended approval with minor changes which are incorporated into the attached ordinance. (Attachment A)  These changes consist of minor grammatical changes and clarifying that a boundary line adjustment could not result in an increase in the number of lots or dwelling units that could otherwise be established on each lot in the Rural Areas zoning district.  

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 4: Effectively Manage Growth and Development  

 

DISCUSSION:

County Code § 18-6.4(C)(2)’s required finding that the resulting lot or lots from a proposed boundary change “more substantially conform” to the Zoning Ordinance’s general regulations often requires the Zoning Administrator to weigh various regulations having different purposes and make a difficult judgment call.  This zoning text amendment would reorganize County Code § 18-6.4 and eliminate the need for the “more substantially conform” finding by creating four substantive classes of boundary changes, each with their own unique, simple, and objective standards, as summarized below.

 

·                     Subdivisions. Subsection (B) would allow a nonconforming lot to be subdivided as part of a subdivision, provided that all of the resulting lots comply with the requirements of the zoning district in which the lots are located and all other applicable requirements of the County Code.

 

·                     Lot combinations. Subsection (C) would allow a nonconforming lot to be combined with a conforming lot or a nonconforming lot provided that the size, area, or frontage of the resulting lot is increased to make it conforming or not more nonconforming.

·                     Boundary line adjustments (“BLA”) between a nonconforming lot and a conforming lot. Subsection (D) would allow a BLA between a nonconforming lot and a conforming lot provided the BLA does not make the conforming lot nonconforming or the nonconforming lot more nonconforming and, in the RA zoning district, would not result in an increase in the number of lots or dwellings that could be established on each lot.

·                     Boundary line adjustments between nonconforming lots: Subsection (E) would allow a BLA between nonconforming lots provided the BLA does not make the nonconforming lots more nonconforming and, in the RA zoning district, would not result in an increase in the number of lots or dwellings that could be established on each lot.

 

The zoning text amendment would also amend County Code § 18-2.1.4 and the definition of nonconforming lot in County Code § 18-3.1 so that they are consistent with County Code § 18-6.4 and one another.

 

The overarching purposes of this zoning text amendment are to facilitate a reduction in the number of nonconforming lots, facilitate nonconforming lots becoming less nonconforming, promote the establishment and continuation of uses that are allowed on nonconforming lots under County Code § 18-6.4 (uses allowed under the zoning district regulations and existing nonconforming uses), and allow those uses to be conducted on lots that better conform to the minimum lot standards.  Specific purposes achieved by this zoning text amendment include: (1) providing more opportunities for individual wells and subsurface drainfields to be located on lots with sufficient area; (2) allowing septic systems to be located on the same lots as the dwellings they serve; (3) allowing dwellings and other structures which do not meet the structure setbacks (i.e., the structure is nonconforming) to become conforming by adjusting the boundary line and, therefore, the setback line; and (4) allowing acreage to be shifted between lots to facilitate land being placed into a conservation easement or to qualify for land use valuation.   

 

BUDGET IMPACT: 

This ordinance is expected to reduce staff time related to reviewing variance applications and processing boundary line adjustments for nonconforming lots.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

After conducting a public hearing, staff recommends the Board adopt the attached ordinance.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

A – Draft Ordinance

B – Planning Commission Staff Report October 6, 2009

Planning Commission minutes of August 11 and October 6, 2009

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