Work Session 5 Minutes


Protection and Progress in the Dragon Run

coordinating land use policies and practices


May 31, 2005Saluda, Virginia




Fred Hutson (Essex); Anne Ducey-Ortiz, Buddy Rodgers (Gloucester); Kempton Shields (King and Queen); John England, Amy Walker (Middlesex); Julie Bixby (Virginia Coastal Program); David Fuss (MPPDC); Vlad Gavrilovic (Paradigm Design)


Project Schedule Recap


Vlad Gavrilovic began by reviewing the project schedule. The Dragon Run Steering Committee received a progress report on the Task Force’s work at its May 11 meeting. The Steering Committee agreed to hold a joint meeting at the Task Force’s meeting on June 28.  Vlad indicated that he will need feedback on the revised zoning framework so that it can be finalized at the June 28 meeting. Further customization for each county will occur after that.


Presentation of Draft Model Zoning Overlay


Vlad provided a presentation covering the key points of the revised model zoning overlay district, called the Dragon Run Conservation Overlay District. The first question is what to call it – he chose the name because it is similar to the existing Dragon Run Conservation District in Middlesex and King and Queen Counties. It attempts to achieve the goals of the model comprehensive plan district.


Key discussion points from Work Session 4:

  • Don’t change underlying densities
  • Use performance standards – don’t reinvent the wheel
  • Standards for both watershed-wide and streamside levels
  • Simple Table of Uses for watershed-wide; need customization for each county
  • Stream buffer provision – don’t create hardship for farming and forestry
  • Clustering option


There are two zones in the overlay district:

  1. Drainage Area Conservation Zone – sensitivity to the use of the word “watershed”

·         Overlay zone

·         Most uses not changed

·         List of prohibited uses

·         List of special exception uses

·         Customized for each county

  1. Stream Buffer Zone – 200 feet from the Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area (RPA) buffer

·         Overlay zone

·         List of permitted uses – taken from existing Dragon Run Conservation District (Middlesex and King & Queen)

·         Restricts any new development

·         No additional restrictions on farming/forestry – permitted with BMPs


There is also a Conservation Subdivision Option. It is designed to address a couple of common problems with clustering in rural areas. One is that rural areas have a lot of trouble getting developers to use this option without an incentive. Another is that there is a dislike of joint ownership of open space in small, rural subdivisions. The Conservation Subdivision Option has the following features:

  • Optional
  • Initiated by the applicant
  • Density-neutral
  • More flexibility in design in exchange for permanent conservation
  • Responds to the issue of incremental minor subdivisions that fragment farm and forest land
  • Incentive – up to 10 lots by-right
  • Applies only to tracts of 50 acres or more
  • At least 75% of the tract must be in Conservancy Lots (25 acre minimum) with an easement held by private non-profit or government entity (remains in private ownership)
  • Remaining portion of the tract (up to 25%) can be subdivided into 1-2 acre lots (total # of lots, including Conservancy Lots, cannot exceed 10)


Next Steps


Vlad noted the following next steps for the Task Force:

  • Achieve continuity of purpose with flexibility for the counties
  • Finalize “model ordinance”
  • Technical memos for customizing to each county
  • Will require staff and legal review
  • Develop illustrations and public presentations for each county
  • Work with counties on drafts for model comprehensive plan and zoning


Evaluation and Feedback


The Task Force had the following discussions:

  • Mr. Rodgers noted that Gloucester is about to change its minor subdivision definition to only 2 lots because of VDOT roads rules
  • Ms. Ducey-Ortiz indicated that conservation subdivision would be a permitted use
  • Mr. Shields noted that King and Queen requires that any roads, public or private, be built to VDOT standards
  • Ms. Ducey-Ortiz indicated that the current proposed model zoning ordinance would mean that Gloucester would have to revise its subdivision ordinance, too
  • Vlad asked if it would be best to put the conservation subdivision option in the zoning ordinance or the subdivision ordinance?
  • Ms. Ducey-Ortiz noted that a roads review would be required in Gloucester not unlike that required for major subdivisions so that would whittle down the incentive; also, Gloucester does not review major subdivisions at the Board of Supervisors, only at the Planning Commission
  • Mr. Shields said that Board of Supervisors approval is required for both major and minor subdivisions in King and Queen; furthermore, since everything is approved by legislative action, King and Queen does not need the conservation subdivision option; they do not want to give up their right to legislative approval in favor of an administrative action
  • Mr. Hutson noted that in Essex, a major subdivision requires a rezoning, while a minor subdivision goes to the Planning Commission and/or the Zoning Administrator for approval
  • Mr. England said that it was the same for Middlesex, with the exception that minor subdivisions did not go to the Planning Commission
  • Vlad noted that it is clear that one size does not fit all counties due to the differences in existing zoning regulations
  • Mr. Shields noted that King and Queen already has a rural cluster subdivision option with an incentive of more lots, but has not had any proposals for it
  • Vlad asked if it would be more workable to pursue model ordinance language or a set of recommendations that functions more like a menu of options?
  • Mr. Hutson asked two questions:

1.      He does not understand the joint open space, since this is usually undesirable? That is why the proposal eliminates that as an obstacle

2.      Why is auto sales prohibited, but farm equipment sales are allowed as a special exception? He thinks that farm equipment sales should be prohibited too, since it is required to be in a business zone in Essex

  • Vlad indicated that a list of uses would need a set of definitions for each county
  • Mr. Shields said that in King and Queen, businesses require a rezoning and if uses are specifically prohibited, then the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will not be able to approve a rezoning
  • Vlad responded that a rezoning could be approved, but it would also require an additional rezoning in the overlay zoning district
  • Mr. Shields said that King and Queen has largely accomplished most of what is in the proposal already; he likes the menu of options approach; also, using words like “scale” and “intensity”  works well  because it can be interpreted in appropriate ways across county boundaries, where scales and intensity may differ
  • Vlad noted that the preservation of farming and forestry is accomplished better by controlling uses; this might be a better approach for counties with more intense zoning in the watershed
  • Vlad asked if existing industrial and commercial zoning should be excluded? No
  • Ms. Ducey-Ortiz noted that in Gloucester it would be necessary to look at whether the overlay district supersedes the underlying district that allows expansion of a non-conforming use
  • Vlad asked the Task Force what it thinks the best way to present the zoning framework at the county level would be and who would be the target audience?

o        The menu of options is better for flexibility to compare to existing ordinances

o        The comprehensive plan district should be presented first, then the zoning

  • Mr. Shields indicated that it would be helpful to separate out the different features for the menu of options; that way, each option could be adopted separately, if desired
  • Ms. Ducey-Ortiz said that in Gloucester, it would be best to work with the Planning Commission committee, rather than try to have the entire Planning Commission work with the material at first
  • Vlad noted that his contract includes presentations for a wider audience and asked what that audience should be? Mr. Hutson responded that presenting it to the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission as a public forum would work well
  • Mr. Shields believes that the stream buffer zone should not have a precise distance
  • Mr. Hutson advocated for a streamside buffer reference in the model comprehensive plan district
  • In summary, Vlad noted the following:

o        Revise the zoning framework in memorandum form as a menu of options

o        Revise the model comprehensive plan district to include a reference to streamside buffers

o        Distribute these revisions to the Task Force with ample time for review

  • Mr. Hutson inquired about the need to have a meeting before the joint meeting with the Steering Committee on June 28th?
  • Mr. Shields offered the possibility of moving the joint meeting to July
  • The Task Force asked David and Vlad to consult with the Steering Committee about changing the meeting to July
  • Ms. Walker indicated that it might be important to check on the consistency among counties of how the RPA and its buffer are enforced and if there are any differences