Two proposed amendments to the Historic District Zoning Ordinance will be heard by the Norfolk Planning Commission at its Jan. 26, 2:30 p.m., hearing in the City Council Chambers on the 11th floor of City Hall:
– “Sec. 9-0.8 as to specify how structural alterations or expansions of non-conforming structures or uses in historic districts should be minimized;
– Sec. 9-1.7 as to specify how modifications to front and side yards shall be processed in the HC-G1, HC-G2 and HC-G3 districts.”
If you would like to comment on the proposed changes, please attend the meeting or call 664-4752 for information on the fax number or address to which your comment should be sent.
After the Planning Commission will hear these matters, it will forward its recommendation to the Norfolk City Council, which will make the final decision as to whether the proposed amendments should be adopted.
The board of the Ghent Neighborhood League did not receive an official advance notice of the proposed changes or a copy of the full text, but President Mason Andrews recently obtained a copy (see below) from the Norfolk Planning Department. The passages highlighted in bold are the proposed new version; the passages in italics are part of the current version and would be eliminated if the changes are adopted.
The proposed changes appear to shift the review and decision-making process for the two matters from the Planning Commission (review) and City Council (decision) to the Norfolk Design Review Committee (review) and the Norfolk Planning Commission (decision).
Please be advised that final decisions by the Planning Commission can be appealed to City Council only by an applicant, not by those in opposition; final decisions by City Council, by contrast, can be appealed by either party.
The Jan. 26 hearing follows on the heels of an earlier zoning amendment that the Norfolk City Council had adopted Dec. 13, 2005. Under that amendment, non-conforming structures in HC-G1, HC-G2 and HC-G3 can be replaced with residential development that exceeds current density limits by 40 percent. The Ghent Neighborhood League and its board, which had discussed this amendment for more than a year, had opposed it but did not prevail.
9-0.8 Structural alteration or expansion of structures containing legal nonconforming uses. Upon findings by the planning commission that a structural alteration or expansion would constitute a substantial improvement over the existing situation, legal nonconforming uses may be permitted to be structurally altered or expanded pursuant to the provisions for special exception uses in Article V, Chapter 25 and pursuant to the criteria below:
(a) Floor area occupied by the nonconforming use shall not be increased by more than 35 percent of the floor area existing in the nonconforming use on or before January 15, 1980;
(b) The structural alteration or expansion shall not involve the removal of more than 50 percent of the structure existing on or before January 15, 1980;
(c) All nonconformities, including those involving the structure, the lot, or characteristics of the use shall be No special exception shall be issued in this class of cases unless nonconformity with specific regulations of the district including height, bulk, lot coverage, required yards, and the like and nonconforming characteristics of use, such as signs, lighting, parking and loading, are reduced to the maximum extent reasonably practical. Under no circumstances shall a special exception of this class be issued which increases the degree of such nonconformity;
(d) Structural alteration or expansion of structures containing nonconforming uses must be done in accordance with a certificate of appropriateness.
9-1.7 Yard requirements. The purpose of the following yard requirements is to ensure that building fronts display a reasonably uniform configuration. However, latitude will be allowed for minor irregularities in alignment to relieve what might otherwise be a monotonous pattern.
(a) Front yards. Seventeen feet to 20 feet deep; however, if 25 percent or more of the block face frontage contains buildings with lesser front yard depth, the maximum front yard limitation shall be the average of yards on the block face plus 1.5 feet, and the minimum front yard permitted shall be the average of yards on the block face minus 1.5 feet. If unique circumstances warrant, this provision may be modified by the design review committee and the planning commission and by the city councilby grant of a certificate of appropriateness.
(b) Side yards adjacent to a street. Five feet minimum. For a corner side yard of a single lot, which is 30 feet or less in width, a yard at least three feet wide shall be provided. The design review committee and the planning commission and city council may modify this provision if warranted by unique circumstances by grant of a certificate of appropriateness.
(c) Side and rear yards. Three feet, except where there are common or attached walls at lot lines, with no space between buildings on adjacent lots.
(d) Yards between buildings on same lot or between buildings and fences/walls on same lot. Three feet.
(e) Other yards. Where two or more detached buildings are developed on a row of lots which are generally 30 feet or less in width, any side yard combination may be permitted which provides a minimum of six feet between buildings on adjacent lots. Such arrangement shall be permitted only as a special exception pursuant to Article V, Chapter 25.