Memorandum Revised from 1-18-07


To:                              Interested Parties                               

From:                          Amelia McCulley, Zoning Administrator

Division:                     Zoning and Current Development

Date:                           February 13, 2007

Subject:                      Official Zoning Determination – creation of new non-development special lots



The purpose of this memorandum is to provide an official written zoning determination regarding the applicability of the zoning district and general regulations to the creation of new special non-development lots.  These lots shall be limited to those created for the following uses: greenways, road or railroad rights-of-way, central wells and septic systems, stormwater management facilities, public utilities and cemeteries. The majority of these lots are primarily used for public purposes (such as with roads and greenways) or for utilities (such as with central well or septic).  It is my determination that these special purpose lots are not lots for the applicability of the zoning district and general regulations provided that (and as long as) their use is restricted to the non-development use for which they were created.  This zoning determination relates to the lot requirements and does not extend to use or area and bulk regulations relating to structures located upon these lots.  Use of the property and location of structures on these lots is still subject to applicable zoning regulations.


In our recent comprehensive amendment to the Subdivision Ordinance, provision was made for these lots.  We plan to codify this determination with a zoning text amendment in the near future.  These lots are the same as “non-building lot” as defined in Section 14-106 of the Subdivision Ordinance as follows:


Non-building lot: The term “non-building lot” means a lot intended for the following uses: wells,

septic systems (including conventional drain fields), stormwater management facilities, open space,

common area, or pre-existing cemetery, but which does not contain a building site, and need not have a

development right assigned.


In the analysis to formulate this decision, I have considered the purposes and intent of both the County’s comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance (as set forth in Section 1) and find this decision to be consistent with them.  With regards to the creation of greenways, this decision encourages and allows the dedication of land for public purposes which might not otherwise be done due to regulatory conflicts or the loss of rights (such as in the RA with development rights).  Greenways and greenway parcels are similar to public road rights-of-way in several respects.  By this decision, greenway parcels and other non-development special lots may be created without the use of development rights and without the lot requirements for building site, minimum lot size, frontage and the like.  New greenway parcels may be added to existing greenway parcels to extend the greenway system in much the same way that right-of-way dedications are done for public roads.


There are also scenarios in which existing special-purpose lots may be reduced in area or eliminated entirely through boundary line adjustments or the like.  For example, an existing railroad right-of-way which is being abandoned and is no longer in active use, may be added in whole or in part to adjoining properties.  In the case of subdivision improvements such as well lots which may be abandoned and added to adjoining properties, research will need to be conducted to determine if amendment to the original subdivision plat is necessary and what form of approval that must take.  This approval is subject to compliance with zoning regulations.   


For any new or revised non-development special lot which is shown on a plat, the plat must clearly state the following:


Lot X is for the express purpose of ______ (an existing cemetery, railroad right-of-way, a new well lot or a greenway or the like).  It does not constitute a development lot under the Albemarle County Zoning Ordinance; therefore, future use shall be limited to this purpose without further County approval.


By this decision, the area and bulk regulations such as minimum size, frontage and the like are not applicable to special non-development lots.  In addition, the general regulations requiring a building site and related utility (well and septic) approvals are also not applicable to special non-development lots.  In the Rural Areas, a development right is not required for the creation of a special non-building lot.  This memorandum is not a determination that existing special non-building lots do or do not have development rights.


This special-purpose lot shall be limited to that area which is necessary for its express purpose and shall not be made arbitrarily larger for future purposes.  We are particularly concerned about situations in which the express purpose may no longer be necessary and a future conversion use (for development) is proposed.  If that occurs, additional County approval is required and may include combining this lot with adjoining property.


If questions arise in the administration of this decision, this decision will be revised to provide clarification.




Cc:      Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney

            Mark Graham, Director of Community Development

Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning

Pat Mullaney, Director of Parks and Recreation

Rick Carter, Attorney at Law




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