(Updated at 12 p.m.) A lone, aging single-family detached home surrounded by townhouses and apartments and close to the Ballston Metro station could be redeveloped to house two families.
If the home at 1129 N. Utah Street were in any of Arlington County’s lowest-density zoning districts, the project could be done by-right — in other words, without seeking special permission beyond standard construction-related permits — starting this summer as part of the “Missing Middle” zoning changes.
Last month, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved the changes allowing the by-right construction of 2-6 unit dwellings, also dubbed “Expanded Housing Options,” in Arlington’s neighborhoods previously zoned only for single-family homes.
But D.C. area developer BeaconCrest Homes is not building in one of these residential zones, and the project instead has to go through the more time-consuming and expensive site plan review process. It’s somewhat ironic given that the zoning of the transit-accessible Utah Street property was intended to be more permissive than the lower-density residential zones now approved for Missing Middle.
“It’s kind of a funny thing: After all the effort put into Missing Middle — that only impacts R zones,” project representative Robby Malm tells ARLnow, musing that the county could have could have incorporated the by-right flexibility afforded by the changes in townhouse districts.
The home is located in a “Townhouse Dwelling District” (R15-30T). This district encourages townhouses as a transition between tall apartment and commercial buildings within Metro areas and neighborhoods with single-family detached housing. Anything beyond a single-family detached home, however, requires a county-approved special exception site plan.
“This aspect of the R15-30T district isn’t really a quirk; rather it’s the express permissions of the district, which was intended to allow townhouse developments in Metro Transit Corridors and on properties with ‘low’ residential and ‘low-medium’ residential General Land Use Plan designations,” Dept. of Community, Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Elise Cleva tells ARLnow.
Since districts such as this one already allow Missing Middle housing forms (albeit not by-right) and regulate their height, setbacks and other characteristics, they were not studied as part of the zoning code updates, says Cleva.
Malm says he met with county staff and they have been helpful during the process but he feels he did not get a clear reason why townhouses and semi-detached duplexes cannot be built by-right in townhouse districts.
“They politely shrugged their shoulders and said, ‘That’s the way the code is written,'” he said. “They couldn’t give us a rationale as to why the code was written that way.”
Typically, Cleva says, R15-30T properties were rezoned from a lower-density zoning district and then associated with a site plan to allow for the townhouses to form a transition.
“As County planners analyze the site plan application for 1129 N. Utah St., they’ll learn more about the history of that parcel,” she wrote.
Malm said his firm deliberated building a single-family detached home but decided the additional time, cost and uncertainty involved in a site plan process to build a side-by-side duplex is “what the property deserves, given where it is located and its proximity to everything Ballston has to offer.”
He says he hopes for a speedy process.
“Because of where it’s located and the feedback we’ve received, we don’t foresee a lot of pushback,” he said.
Good Tuesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
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Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.