August 14, 2008

PG Amends Cluster Zoning Ordinanace


PRINCE GEORGE -- The Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance Tuesday that amends cluster zoning in the county through overlay districts.

The regulation governs where high-density housing can be built.

Interim County Administrator John G. Kines Jr. explained that the ordinance is now required by the state. The ordinance requires the county to allow cluster zoning on properties as small as five acres. The maximum allowable density can be determined by the locality.

Kines said the state gave localities authority to allow cluster zoning on properties as small as two acres. The county already had the five-acre minimum in place, but needed to decide where cluster zoning is permitted and the maximum allowable density.

For Prince George the area would be defined primarily as the Prince George planning area. However, it extends nearly a mile outside the planning area into the rural service area. Interim Director of Planning Pamela K. Thompson explained that the extension into the rural service area was part of the state requirement for the size of the cluster overlay district.

Thompson said the overlay must be comprised of 40 percent agricultural residential zoning. She said that is why the cluster overlay district extends in some places as much as 5,200 feet outside from the Prince George planning area.

The maximum density allowed on lots in the cluster overlay district will be determined by the underlying zoning in the Prince George planning area and will be set at one house per five acres.

"I think that a lot of counties haven't really allowed group housing and the state has had to maintain a lot more miles of roadway as a result," Supervisor William A. Robertson said. "We were specifically named by the General Assembly as one of those counties that needed to implement this. We have to do what they say."

Several members of the Prince George Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors weren't pleased about it. Two citizens expressed their opposition to the changes as well.

Charles Skalsky said cluster zoning usually is used to protect tracts of land larger than five acres from development. He thought protecting four acres out of five acres wouldn't be possible.

"I'm totally opposed to two- or five-acre cluster zoning," Skalsky said.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Henry Parker reminded the board and the Planning Commission that developers would be limited to where they could build by access to utilities.

"It doesn't make a difference because the developers are going to look at the larger pieces of property to be profitable," Planning Commissioner Jimmie Stewart said.

The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approving the cluster overlay district with a five-acre minimum lot size and 2/10 of a unit per acre in the rural service area. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the commission's recommendation.

- F.M. Wiggins may be reached at 732-3456, ext. 254 or [email protected]

Originally published by STAFF WRITER.

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