February 9, 1999
TO: The County Board of Arlington County, Virginia
FROM: William T. Donahue, County Manager
SUBJECT: Request to Advertise Amendments to the Subdivision Ordinance, Chapter 23 of the Arlington County Code, Concerning Cul-de-Sacs, Street Dedications, and Lot Frontages in Residential Cluster and Unified Residential Developments.
RECOMMENDATION: Adopt a resolution to advertise amendments to the Subdivision Ordinance, Chapter 23 of the Code of Arlington County, Virginia, Section 23-5 (General Requirements), Subsections 23-5(B)(2) and 23-5(B)(9)(b), and Section, 23-6 (Streets Generally), Subsections 23-6(A)(2) and 23-6(B), Concerning Cul-de-sacs, Street Dedications, and Lot Frontages in Residential Cluster and Unified Residential Developments, and to schedule public hearings on the proposed amendments for the Planning Commission on March 29, 1999, and for the County Board on April 9, 1999.
ISSUES: 1. Should the minimum width of the dedication, for cul-de-sacs and for streets in residential cluster and unified residential developments, be reduced?
2. Should dedications be allowed for hammerhead turnarounds?
BACKGROUND: The Subdivision Ordinance Work Group made up of staff, citizens and development community representatives has for sometime worked to resolve a number of subdivision issues related to by-right infill residential development. Also, the Zoning Ordinance Review Committee ("ZORC") currently is working to address a number of infill residential development issues. Recommendations for amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and to the Subdivision Ordinance resulting from these two efforts are expected to come before the County Board later this year.
On July 19, 1997, the County Board enacted amendments to the Zoning Ordinance for unified residential development to provide flexibility and site-specific solutions in the development of single-family detached dwellings. The approval of unified residential development is a special exception use permit process that allows community participation in the approval because it requires public hearings and use permit review by the Planning
STAFF: Luis D. Araya, Public Works
Reviewed by the County Attorney _______
Commission and approval by the County Board. The process offers developers an alternative to by-right subdivision that also permits them to address site-specific difficulties. The unified residential development provisions presently contemplate non-standard lots.
The proposed reduced street width dedication for cul-de-sacs, the proposed hammerhead turnaround dedication, and the unified residential development frontage changes discussed in this report are being brought forward at this time to allow the County to process possible unified residential development plans. Because the approval process for unified residential developments also requires subdivision plat approval, the Subdivision Ordinance provision concerning minimum street width needs to be amended at this time to be consistent with the Zoning Ordinance which addresses minimum street width.
DISCUSSION: The proposed ordinance amendments are intended to reduce the impact of new cul-de-sac streets resulting from subdivision, residential cluster development, and unified residential development. The proposed amendments have been shared with ZORC, the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee, the Civic Federation, and a number of civic associations.
MINIMUM REQUIREMENT OF STREET RIGHT-OF-WAY WIDTH FOR CUL-DE-SAC STREETS IN SUBDIVISIONS, STREETS IN RESIDENTIAL CLUSTER DEVELOPMENTS AND UNIFIED RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS
It is proposed that Section 23-5(B)(2) of the Subdivision Ordinance be amended to include a minimum street width dedication requirement of 40 feet for new cul-de-sac streets that are created as part of subdivision, or any street created as part of residential cluster development, or any street created as part of a unified residential development. The Zoning Ordinance provisions for residential cluster development (Section 31.A.8.b.(2)) and for unified residential development (Section 31.A.13.b(2)) presently permit the County Board to reduce right-of-way dedications to 40 feet. A minimum street width of 40 feet results in a narrower street with less impervious area and more green space. A narrower street is often more compatible with existing streets in the surrounding neighborhood. The narrower street dedication would provide more flexibility and allow for the placement of new houses closer to the middle of the site and further away from abutting properties. It could also assist with the preservation of any mature vegetation and creation of a better buffer between the new development and the surrounding neighborhood.
It is also proposed that section 23-6(B) of the Subdivision Ordinance be amended to allow a new cul-de-sac turnaround dedication option for hammerhead-shaped turnarounds in any dead-end street. The current 45-foot-radius dedication requirement for circular cul-de-sacs often results in a larger-than-desired impervious area and often necessitates that houses at the end of a cul-de-sac be placed close to adjacent properties. Having another design option (hammerhead) for street turnaround dedications would add flexibility to street and site design
- 2 -
that can reduce the impact of new cul-de-sac streets on adjacent property. The figure
attached to this report shows a layout of the dimensions for the existing circular cul-de-sac and the proposed hammerhead turnaround dedication, as well as the 40-foot street minimum width.
LOT FRONTAGE - UNIFIED RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT
The proposed amendment to existing section 23-5(B)(9)(b) of the Subdivision Ordinance will allow the 20-foot minimum lot frontage, which presently is permitted in residential cluster developments under the Subdivision Ordinance, to be permitted in unified residential developments as well. The current 20-foot lot frontage requirement for lots in residential cluster developments was adopted in 1979. Because of the design and development similarities between unified residential and residential cluster developments, the lot frontage minimum allowed in the Subdivision Ordinance should be the same for both types of developments. It is proposed that language be added to section 23-5(B)(9)(b) of the Subdivision Ordinance to allow a minimum lot frontage of 20 feet for each lot created under the unified residential development Zoning Ordinance provision.
Finally, the existing phrase "Lots for detached cluster units" (units in residential cluster developments) is being changed to "Lots in residential cluster developments" to clarify its meaning and make it consistent with the Zoning Ordinance.
FISCAL IMPACT: No change is anticipated as a result of the proposed Subdivision Ordinance amendments.
- 3 -
PROPOSED CUL-DE-SAC HAMMERHEAD TURNAROUND DEDICATION DETAIL,
CURRENT CIRCULAR CUL-DE-SAC DEDICATION LIMITS,
AND 40-FOOT VS. 50-FOOT STREET WIDTH COMPARISON
- 4 -
RESOLUTION TO ADVERTISE AMENDMENTS TO THE SUBDIVISION ORDINANCE, CHAPTER 23 (SUBDIVISIONS) OF THE CODE OF ARLINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA, SECTION 23-5 (GENERAL REQUIREMENTS), SUBSECTIONS 23-5(B)(2) AND
23-5(B)(9)(b), AND SECTION 23-6 (STREETS GENERALLY), SUBSECTIONS 23-6(A)(2) AND 23-6(B), CONCERNING CUL-DE-SACS, STREET DEDICATIONS, AND LOT FRONTAGES IN RESIDENTIAL CLUSTER AND UNIFIED RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS, AND TO SCHEDULE PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS
The Arlington County Board hereby resolves that the following amendments to Section 23-5 (General Requirements), Subsections 23-5(B)(2) and 23-5(B)(9)(b), and to Section 23-6 (Streets Generally), Subsections 23-6(A)(2) and 23-6(B), of the Subdivision Ordinance, be advertised for public hearings by the Planning Commission on March 29, 1999, and by the County Board on April 10, 1999. These proposed amendments are intended to reduce the effects of new cul-de-sac streets built as a result of subdivision, residential cluster development, and unified residential development; and to provide an alternative dedication option for turnarounds in cul-de-sac streets.
* * *
§ 23-5. General requirements.
* * *
(B) Minimum requirements. The following shall be considered minimum requirements and shall be varied only in specific cases:
* * *
(2) The minimum width for minor streets shall be fifty (50) feet except that in cases where topography or special conditions make a street of less width more practical, the county manager or his or her designee may modify the above requirements. Provided, however, that the minimum width for cul-de-sac streets, or for streets in residential cluster developments or in unified residential developments as defined in the Arlington County, Virginia, Zoning Ordinance, shall, in no event be less than forty (40) feet as approved by the County Board pursuant to the Zoning Ordinance. A partial width street may be dedicated when adjoining undeveloped property. The width of a partial street shall be thirty (30) feet or as determined by the county manager or designee.
- 5 -
* * *
(9) All lots shall conform to the requirements set forth in the Arlington County, Virginia, Zoning Ordinance.
* * *
(b) To the extent that lot frontages of less than 40 feet are approved by the County Board pursuant to the Zoning Ordinance, lots
for detached cluster units in residential cluster developments, lots in unified residential developments, or a lot s for no more than the one (1) detached unit permitted in a subdivision of attached units, shall have a minimum of twenty (20) feet of frontage on a public street.
* * *
§ 23-6. Streets generally.
(A) Arrangement of streets and alleys with reference to adjoining street system
* * *
(2) In general, such streets shall be at least as wide as existing streets, except that in no case shall the width be less than fifty (50) feet or as specified in the master plan unless the street is a cul-de-sac, a street dedicated as part of a residential cluster or unified residential development as defined in the Arlington County, Virginia, Zoning Ordinance, or a partial width street dedicated pursuant to section 23-5(B)(2).
* * *
(B) Cul-de-sac streets shall have a turnaround at the end with a minimum radius of forty-five (45) feet, as measured from the street centerline to the back of sidewalk
. , or a hammerhead turnaround with a rectangular area measuring at least eighty (80) feet in total width and at least forty (40) feet in each direction from the street centerline when measured at the end of the street on which the turnaround is located and perpendicular to the centerline. Such turnaround shall have its minimum 80-foot length for at least twenty (20) feet, as measured from the end of the street towards the throat of the cul-de-sac, and be connected to the street with reverse curves having radii of twenty-five (25) feet to the right-of-way at the back of the sidewalk along the throat of the cul-de-sac. Dead-end streets lacking turnarounds shall not be permitted.
- 6 -