Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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More on “New Urbanism”

Last week I went to a transportation/land use training session in Richmond where experts—some intriguing and others downright boring—discussed new legislation that affects transportation and land use.

Impact fees, Urban Development Areas and Traditional Neighborhood Development designs were widely discussed.

Spotsylvania planners are now beginning the process of forming UDAs. The county must have them adopted in the comprehensive land-use plan by 2011.

This is how the legislation was explained:

A UDA must be an area that can accommodate higher density development and that is close to transportation facilities, public services and other developed areas. (This sounds a lot like Tricord’s Summit Crossing already).

A UDA must allow for residential density of four units per gross acre and a floor area ratio of 0.4 per gross acre for commercial development.

A UDA must be sufficient size to accommodate at least 10 years of growth and no more than 20 years of residential and commercial growth. (Again, Summit Crossing). 

A UDA must be examined every five years and revised if needed.

Comprehensive land-use plans must incorporate “new urbanism” and (here it is again) Traditional Neighborhood Development.

The land use plans must describe the financial and other incentives for development in the UDA zones.

Any county may certify that it’s comprehensive land-use plan already satisfies the requirements of a UDA.

Spotsylvania County planners said they have identified five UDA zones in the future land use map. I asked for this map and can’t make any real sense out of it. I see in the legend that the color pink shows “mixed land use 15 yr” but more than six spots show up on the map for this legend.

High-density residential is splattered in at least 10 different areas and some are connected to commercial uses. There’s two large swaths of land mostly zoned office and industrial that have mixed uses attached in the Mills Drive area and Mallard Road area.

But there isn’t a TND zoning category on the map for a very good reason: the county doesn’t have a TND ordinance.

And finally, state and local money for transportation, housing and economic development should be focused in the UDAs, if possible.