The Orange County Board of Supervisors will consider the addition of three new zoning districts, as part of the Germanna-Wilderness Area Plan (GWAP), following a public hearing Tuesday, July 10. The planning commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the text amendment to the supervisors last month. 

The county has consistently worked on the GWAP since its inception in 2013, with a 50-year vision to develop a “place to live, work and play with a higher standard of design and development which is a self-contained, complete community that is appealing to current and perspective residents.”

The plan, which encompasses more than 14,000 acres at the eastern end of the county, was divided into eight geographically-based sub-areas, with plans for each, including the existing conditions and natural features of each sub-area, the vision and future conditions of the eight sub-areas as well as maps to illustrate the land’s current zoning, constraints and future usage. The GWAP was adopted in 2015.

Since the plan’s adoption, a steering committee has worked on adding details to the plan in accordance with economic development, historical and cultural assets, planning and zoning, utilities and infrastructure and transportation.

Effective planning and zoning will be essential to the county meeting its goals and objectives for the plan, explained Orange County Planning and Zoning Director Josh Frederick.

Goals within the GWAP related to planning and zoning include: establishing flexible zoning techniques; promoting inter-connectivity of roads, sidewalks and paths; promoting planned development; and providing adequate utilities.

In order to coordinate the plan’s goals across the area’s 14,600 acres, Frederick said the county is considering new zoning tools, including three new planned zoning districts and an overlay district limited to the Germanna-Wilderness Area (GWA). The proposed zoning districts encourage master planning and flexibility, he added.

Those zoning districts are following the typical planning process and will now be presented to the board of supervisors for consideration.

The proposed planned development mixed-use zoning district allows for integration of residential and nonresidential land uses to provide unified, pedestrian-oriented site design. Frederick said the goal of that zoning is to allow people to “live, work and play” in one area. The proposed planned development business zoning allows for coordinated, multi-unit, multi-use commercial development and would be aimed at intensive commercial usage, he added. Lastly, the proposed traditional neighborhood development (TND) zoning district allows for a compact, efficient and classic residential development pattern with some integrated commercial uses. The zoning district is a new concept for rural communities, but provides a unique type of development which gives citizens a sense of place, Frederick explained.

There were no speakers on the GWA zoning districts at the planning commission’s June 7 public hearing.

District 3 commissioner Donald Brooks made a motion to recommend approval of the zoning text amendment which was seconded by District 5 commissioner Jim Hutchison and passed unanimously.

Meanwhile, Frederick said the county is revising its vision for the overlay district which is intended to serve as a tool to coordinate both the Route 3 arterial management plan and the master utility plan.

Originally the zoning overlay was expected to cover the entire GWA, but the recent direction from the supervisors was to more narrowly focus the district to the Route 3 corridor. Within an overlay, the underlying zoning district’s permitted uses and other regulations would still apply, while an overlay would provide an extra “blanket” of provisions.

A revised overlay district will be presented when it is completed.

The board of supervisors will hold its public hearing on the proposed zoning text amendment Tuesday, July 10 at 7 p.m. in the basement of the Gordon Building.

Documents discussed by the steering committee, including the GWAP itself, can be found on the county website: www.orangecountyva.gov/.

The supervisors’ meeting agenda is also available on the county website.

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