Hanover zoning laws overhauled
A two-year process reached its conclusion earlier this month as the Board of Supervisors approved an update and reorganization of Hanover County’s zoning ordinance.
The zoning ordinance dates back to 1959, though it has been amended many times since. Over the years, zoning districts have been repealed and added, provisions modernized, requirements updated, and more.
“Numerous amendments done independently over time have resulted in an ordinance that is frequently very challenging to follow,” Planning Director David Maloney told the board at its Jan. 9 meeting.
The reorganization has not focused on substantive policy changes. Rather, the goal has been to remove ambiguous or archaic provisions and to describe current practices more accurately.
Other changes bring the ordinance into compliance with state and federal enabling legislation.
The update relocates the zoning ordinance and subdivision ordinance from the County Code’s appendix to the code itself.
“This will make it easier for the public to locate the zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations,” Maloney said.
The update also incorporates the second phase of a parking regulations review. The first phase occurred in 2009.
Maloney said these changes improve clarity and increase site design flexibility. For example, requests for shared parking are now addressed through administrative review rather than the special exception permit process.
Also, parking space requirements should now better reflect the needs of business districts. On-site parallel parking is now allowed to count toward the parking requirements.
Maloney mentioned that the loading space requirements have been amended and, in some uses, eliminated all together. This should reduce the amount of new impervious surfaces in the county going forward.
One significant portion of the zoning ordinance has not yet been updated—the Agricultural District provisions.
“The A-1 district is the only district and only component of the ordinance that has not undergone a detailed review in the last several years,” Maloney said.
The A-1 review would likely begin sometime after the current Comprehensive Plan update, which is still in its early stages.
The zoning ordinance reorganization and parking ordinance amendments passed 7-0.
No one addressed the board at the public hearing.
Two Chickahominy District residents shared some thoughts about the school system’s budget during the Citizens Time portion of the board’s evening agenda.
Chris Pace, a Hanover High School teacher and father of school-aged children, said the board needs to be prepared to raise revenues for the schools.
He said limited resources have some teachers looking at switching to Henrico or Chesterfield.
“All of my friends, people I talk with, they live in Hanover County because of the school system. It’s the best around. But Henrico today passed us as the employer of choice when it comes to teachers in the central region,” Pace said.
Henrico is looking into the possibility of implementing a meals tax, while Hanover continues to propose budget cuts, Pace observed.
For safety reasons, the campus-style schools need to be enclosed, as Patrick Henry High School was in the 1980s, he added.
Randy Sherrod, also a parent with children in the school system, echoed those comments.
“Our schools I see now are being under-funded. We’re cutting and cutting and cutting. The class sizes are increasing. So the benefit of coming to Hanover County Schools, I’m afraid, is not going to be what it was when I went to school here,” he said.
Regarding school security, he said, “We have a lot of campus-style schools. We need to do as much as we can to make sure that our schools are safe. … There is no room for error in this.”