Resolution of Arlington County Civic Federation:
The following resolution was passed by the Arlington County Civic Federation by a margin of 44 to 21 at the February 1, 2005 meeting.
County Board Advertising of Lot Coverage Amendment
Whereas the Arlington County Civic Federation (ACCF) in recent years has closely followed proposals recommended by the Zoning Ordinance Review Committee (ZORC) of the Planning
Commission with respect to in-fill housing, including with respect to coverage limitations for lots in single family zoning districts;
Whereas the ACCF, in response to a lot coverage proposal made by ZORC some 3 years ago, held a special meeting on the subject at that time and heard numerous expressions of concern from delegates about the impact which that proposal might have on existing improved lots, including whether it would make their properties non-conforming or effectively preclude them building additions and making other improvements;
Whereas a modified September 2004 ZORC proposal, which would apply to all residential lots in the County, is now one of the options before the County Board for advertising;
Whereas the County Manager, at the County Board meeting of December 11, 2004, in response at least in part to concerns expressed by potentially affected residents, recommended that the County Board advertise an amendment of more limited scope, which would apply the ZORC lot coverage limitations only to new houses and to expansions of existing houses that exceed 100% of the existing house; and whereas the County Board deferred the matter to its February 12, 2005, meeting;
Whereas delegates to the ACCF have continued to raise questions about the effects that a ZORC-type amendment would have if it were to apply to all existing improved lots (lots with houses), including the number of improved lots that the amendment would cause to become non-conforming and the number of additional improved lots that would be so close to the coverage limit as to preclude a modest addition or improvement; and delegates have raised questions about the effect that such an amendment would have on the ability of a homeowner to rebuild a non-conforming house that is voluntarily or involuntarily destroyed by fire or weather related event, the ability to finance non-conforming properties or collect full insurance on a non-conforming house that is involuntarily destroyed, and the effect that such an amendment would have on the ability of a homeowner to sell or obtain title insurance for an affected property;
Whereas County staff has estimated that the ZORC proposal, if adopted, would make 10% of improved lots in the County non-conforming by reason of lot coverage, ranging from 5% of R-6 lots to 22% of R-20 lots; and whereas County staff has not attempted to estimate the number of additional improved lots that the ZORC proposal would make ineligible for even a modest addition or other improvement;
Whereas the County Board, as a result of previous amendments to the Zoning Code, has made an unknown but significant percentage of improved lots in the County non-conforming in one or more ways (e.g., minimum lot size, street frontage, and/or set back requirements, new rules for pipe stem lots), and the ZORC proposal, if adopted, would increase the number
of improved lots that are non-conforming, and increase the number of ways in which other improved lots are non-conforming;
Whereas homeowners who might seek an exception to new lot coverage rules through a variance are unlikely to obtain a variance, at least for the foreseeable future, because of a recent Virginia court decision limiting the ability of boards of zoning appeals in Virginia to grant variances;
Whereas all of the lot coverage options and underlying rules are complicated and impact different neighborhoods in different ways, and it may take individual civic associations several months to evaluate and take a position on the advertised amendment;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
(1) The ACCF recommends that the Arlington County Board, if it decides to advertise an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance with respect to lot coverage -
- Advertise an amendment that is not broader in scope and would not apply to more improved lots than the amendment proposed for advertising by the County Manager at the December 11 County Board meeting;
- Include within the advertised amendment a "grandfather" clause similar to the one in the Manager's proposal of December 11, that makes it clear the new rules will not apply to existing improved lots (except those that fall within the definition of "new construction"); and
- Defer consideration of any advertised amendment to its May 2005 meeting, or a later meeting, in order to give the Civic Federation and its member organizations and other interested parties sufficient time to review the advertised amendment and take a position;
(2) The ACCF will not support an amendment that is broader in scope than the Manager's proposal or that is to be acted upon before the May 2005 Board meeting.
The more recent resolution superceding this one .
This page was last revised on: April 29, 2005.