Supervisors Formalize Setback and Building Heights for County Businesses

The Clarke County Board of Supervisors amended county zoning ordinances on Tuesday night with a view toward maintaining the existing character of Clarke’s neighborhood and commercial zoning districts. The unanimous approval comes after review and recommendation from the Clarke County Planning Commission. No citizens offered public comment on the zoning amendments at either public hearing.

Clarke County, Virginia

“With these zoning recommendations we’re trying to replicate the established patterns existing patterns in existing areas of development” said county planning administrator Chuck Johnston.

In reviewing the setbacks in conjunction with work on a possible new zoning district county planning staff noticed that in the Neighborhood Commercial District the minimum front setback requirement of 35 feet on small parcels created non-conforming buildings on all 17 of the parcels in this type of district located on parcels of 1.5 acres or less. The new amendment  creates a maximum setback of 35 feet for parcels of less than 1.5 acres, so that any new construction would be consistent with the pattern of development on such parcels.

Similarly, the current maximum building height limits are 30 feet in Neighborhood Commercial and 40 feet in Highway Commercial districts. County staff recommended that maintaining an appropriate scale of structures and the intended character of these districts would be better achieved by a limit on the number of stories in addition to the number of feet. Staff decided on two stories in Neighborhood Commercial districts and three stories in Highway Commercial. Basements are not included in the floor count.

Johnston and his staff reviewed all of Clarke County’s commercial areas prior to making the recommendation. The specific setback and building height recommendations recommended by Johnston were derived from current business practices so the changes approved by the Supervisors will not affect any existing establishments.

“I generally don’t like endorsing a lot of new rules, but these rules don’t hurt anyone” said Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood). “If a building burned down these rules will that whatever is rebuilt conforms to the existing look and feel of the area.”

In addition to the height and setback requirements the Supervisors also discussed appropriate level of development in the rural areas of Clarke County for overnight accommodations. The Supervisors approved a zoning change that will increase the number of rooms allowed for a country i nn from 12 to 15 in hopes of improving the potential economic viability of overnight accomodations without unduly impacting adjacent rural uses.

The following zoning ordinance amendments were approved on Tuesday night:

Section 3-A-12-c, Neighborhood Commercial Yard Setbacks, so as change minimum street setbacks to maximum setbacks on parcels of less than 1.5 acres and no required street setbacks for parcels of 1.5 to 3 acres

Section 3-A-12-d, Neighborhood Commercial Maximum Height, so as to limit structure height to two stories, in addition to the current limit of 30 feet,             .,             .

Section 3-A-13-e, Highway Commercial Maximum Height, so as to limit structure height to three stories, in addition to the current limit of 40 feet;

Section 3-C-2, Supplementary Regulations for Uses in Various Districts, so as to modify tbe regulations for Country Inns, so as that the maximum number of guest rooms is increased from 12 to 15;

Section 9-8, Definitions, so as to delete a portion of the definition of “Country Inns”, transferring this text to Supplementary Regulations.