In a surprise development, the Norfolk Planning Commission unanimously approved a zoning amendment to the Ghent historic district that the Ghent Neighborhood League had rejected less than two weeks earlier.
At its Aug. 25 public hearing, the commission approved an amendment “to require a special exception for infill development on properties that are not historically or culturally developed and to create development standards thereof. The intent of these amendments is to provide standards for the compatible development of infill lots located in the HC-G2, district,” i.e. the area between Olney and Princess Anne roads.
The commission’s advisory vote meanwhile has been forwarded to the Norfolk City Council, which will make the final decision on this matter at a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting.
The proposed amendment had been a point of discussion between the league and city officials for about a year; it also had been listed — but always was continued — as an item on the commission’s agenda since last fall.
In October 2004, the league’s board voted against the amendment but subsequently resumed talks with the city although no decision was made.
During the recent league’s meeting on Aug. 15, the amendment was presented by Norfolk Zoning Administrator Leonard Newcomb III and Senior Planner Anne Guthrie, and information sheets (please see below) were provided for everyone’s understanding of the issue.
A straw vote of those in attendance did not indicate support for the amendment, and the league eventually also voted to not support it. The league did not address the need for a letter to the City Planning Commission since both Newcomb and Guthrie were present at the time of the straw poll and the board’s vote.
Ten days after the league’s meeting, Newcomb presented the amendment to the Planning Commission for a vote. Since nobody was present to oppose the proposed amendment and no mention of the league’s vote was made, commission Chairman Barbara Zoby asked for a vote from the commissioners, and the commissioners approved the proposed amendment 7:0.
CITY INFORMATION SHEET, DISTRIBUTED AT THE AUG. 15, 2005, GHENT NEIGHBORHOOD LEAGUE MEETING
HC-G2 Ghent Historic and Cultural Conservation District
Proposed Zoning Text Amendments
The public purpose is provide regulations to facilitate the replacement of non-conforming, non-contributing commercial structures located in the HC-G2 (Ghent Historic and Cultural Conservation) District that are not listed as historically or architecturally contributing to the Ghent historic district. These structures were originally constructed or modified for commercial development and are currently vacant or essentially dysfunctional in regard to their location and use. These regulations shall provide development incentives to facilitate the replacement of these buildings with new residential development that compliments the existing historic character of the Ghent neighborhood.
Amend Section 9.1 (Ghent Historic and Cultural Conservation) Districts to allow for the replacement of existing non-conforming, non-contributing structures located in the HC-G2 district subject to a special exception and to create development standards.
Process for the Special Exception:
Ghent Neighborhood League – All applicants will be instructed to meet with the League and present their plans prior to applying for the Special Exception.
Design Review Committee – Reviews all applications for demolitions and new construction in the HC-G2 district.
City Planning Commission – Reviews all applications for demolitions and new construction as referred by the Design Review Committee. Also would review all applications for special exceptions to replace non-conforming, non-contributing commercial structures.
City Council – Reviews and approves or denies all applications for special exception to replace non-conforming, non-contributing commercial structures.
Certificate of Appropriateness – Obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness shall pertain to the special exception and, the subsequent decision of demolition of the non-conforming, non-contributing commercial structure.
Minimum lot width and size: 100 feet and 10,000 square feet.
Density: 40 units to the acre.
Minimum Open Space: 20%
Parking: 2 spaces per dwelling unit plus 2 spaces for every 5 units.
Yard requirements: Front yard same as current requirements.
Side and rear yards: 10 feet.
Building height: 50 feet
1. Northeast corner of Redgate Avenue and Hampton Boulevard currently developed with a medical office building.
2. B&B Exxon Station at 1006 Colley Avenue.
3. Former Tiffany Publishing building at 911-915 Colley Avenue.
4. 7/11 Convenience Store on the southwest corner of Princess Anne Road and Colonial Avenue.
5. Small commercial building at 907 Colley.
Present the proposed amendments to the Planning Commission for their review at the public hearing and recommendation to City Council.