Frederick County Works on Neo-Traditional Zoning

Frederick County has a head start over most other fast-growth counties in Virginia in adapting to The Comprehensive Transportation Funding and Reform Act of 2007. It already has an Urban Development Area, mandated by the legislation, which says where development should take place.

Now Frederick planners are turning their attention to revising their zoning code to accommodate more mixed-used development and neo-traditional (new urbanism) design, which was mentioned in the legislation, though somewhat vaguely, as a guide for what that development should look like. According to the Winchester Star, the Development Review and Regulations Subcommittee met Thursday to discuss such details as parking, setbacks and ground-floor windows. Writes reporter Mark Dorolek:

The study calls for potential focal points in the county that would have mixed-use housing, stores, and other commercial development centered on a park, school, or other gathering place with a more neo-traditional design.

“The Board of Supervisors were very clear that they need something quick,” said Susan K. Eddy, senior planner for the Planning and Development Department. “Even if it’s just a Band-Aid.”

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10 responses to “Frederick County Works on Neo-Traditional Zoning”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    I live in the Frederick County/Winchester area and I think the UDA is a good idea.

    But, what the region really needs is to build the the Eastern Bypass for Rt. 37 that will esentially create a beltway around the city and hopefully “connect” all of the UDA’s.

    If you move forward on the UDA’s and don’t build the bypass things will only get worse as far as traffic goes….and things are BAD now.

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I held off commenting.. but I am tuly amazed that there is no discussion here.

    This is the classic issue with beltways, new roads, sprawl…etc… AND, more important what the fundamental purpose of UDA is to start with.

    Remember the idea that unplanned growth that does not collect up-front infrastructure money for roads ends up with many more homes than there are road for?

    My question – a simple one –

    what is the financial plan for the Eastern portion of the bypass/beltway?

    I note the Chamber of Commerce thinks it is “critical” for the region but nowhere in the MPO CLRP do they have a financial plan to fund building the $200 million (low ball) road though they DO want to preserve the corrdior but again they do not have a real plan to do that.. only .. essentially a wistful observation that if they don’t do that.. that development will occur… in the future corridor.

    Folks – isn’t this what local/regional planning, comprehensive plans and UDA’s are all about?

    Isn’t this about what that region can and should do – to designate that corridor, establish policies that prevent it from being developed by rejecting anything beyond by-right development – AND – to start to acquire the r/w from existing landowners.

    I know there are other views about this … let’s hear them…

  3. Anonymous Avatar


    I agree with you 100%…..everyone wants the road but nobody wants to pay for it. Also, I have no idea what the financial plan is for funding the road.

    The current BOS seems to be on the right track but at the end of the day seeing is believing. They gave it a lot of lip service in the last campaign but then all they do is pass the buck onto the state because that’s where a majority of the money would come from….it’s the same old endless cycle.

    I do know this:

    It was on VDOT’s 6-year plan (or whatever that thing is) but then a no-growth board was elected 2 election cycles ago. The no-growth board removed the road from the county’s Comprehensive Plan. Because of that action the CTB (Commonwealth Transportation Board) took it off of VDOT’s long-term agenda/plan. Folks have told me that action set back building the road 15-20 years… far I think they are right.

    Here is a link to a map showing the area in question.

    It’s easy to see what the issue is…the road is needed so that everyone that commutes to and from NOVA/DC via rt. 50 and rt. 7 can avoid driving into the city where they have to get on I-81 so they can go north or south.

    Obviously, the UDA would be built inside the beltway….thus preserving a lot of the rural land outside of the road…’s a good plan IMO.

    One “issue” that rubs people….and rightfully so….is that a large portion of the traffic that would use the road are residents of West Virginia and Maryland that use I-81 to get to and from work… do they pay….or do they…or should they?

  4. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “…revising their zoning code to accommodate more mixed-used development and neo-traditional (new urbanism) design, which was mentioned in the legislation, though somewhat vaguely, as a guide for what that development should look like….”

    Well, so much for the free market.

    How do we know that these guys know more than anybody else what development “should” look like?

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: zoning

    well.. the idea is to remove obstacles to development – a “good” thing.. right?

    with respect to the road itself.

    I assume it has occurred to folks that building the eastern bypass would, in all likelihood.. accelerate development and the influx from NoVa for “affordable” homes.

    Is this what Winchester believes is in it’s own best economic interests?

    I can see the folks who sell furniture.. build homes, etc… businesses liking this idea but how would Winchester acommodate the influx of people with respect to infrastructure and services without either:

    1. – raising taxes
    2. – suffering quality of life degradation that inevitable comes with higher growth rates

    or both…

    So you build the beltway.. tons of new folks move in.. and the local secondary roads and schools are overwhelmed…

    and this is the scenario even if the state pays for the road…

    it appears to me that the city does not have a plan… for the road.. nor for the inevitable growth nor for UDAs….

    mouthing the words “new urban” in conjunction with updating ordinances is not the same as having a Comp Plan integrated with UDAs and a valid TIP/CLRP at the MPO level.

    Folks keep talking about the State’s responsibility … really vague-speak for state taxpayers… but I would posit that what the State could do… is offer localities top notch professional planning because it appears to me, over and over, the problem is citizen BOS who really have no clue how to accommodate growth… in a way that truly benefits ….

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    JAB may produce a separate thread on this…

    … the Prince Williams BOS will consider ..
    “Proffers for single family houses will jump from $37,719 to $51,113 if the board accepts the proposed increase.”

    so a question or two.

    What are the current proffers in Frederick County?

    Has Frederick looked at how many “by-right” homes can currently be built without rezones (and without proffers)?

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry –

    I think most folks who live in the Winchester/Frederick County area have accepted the fact that growth is going to occur here. There are two major Federal agencies relocating here in the next 5 years – FEMA and the FBI as well as more and more folks who commute to NOVA moving this way.

    What the County is trying to prevent is the scattered, unconnected subdivisions that have plagued it for decades…..the one here, one there, another waaay out there approach is what is being prevented, at least in theory.

    To answer your question, I think the proffers in Frederick County are around 20k per house….I know they just went up so that is a ballpark figure. I don’t know about the by-right lots.

    Finally, one must realize that for the most part the City of Winchester is built out. There are not many lots left suitable for housing. So, the big focus has been on redevelopment. New construction will take place in the county….that’s where all the land is.

    My point has been, and still is, that if the road is not built then all you are doing is THE SAME THING that has been done in the past. In other words, the cart is in front of the horse, particularly since the funding for the road is so, shall we say, vague.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: …”most part the City of Winchester is built out. … New construction will take place in the county….that’s where all the land is.”

    Fredericksbrug/Stafford/Spotsylvania… been there .. done that.

    From 50K population to 300K population in less than 20 years and still growing ….

    Fredericksburg went from .. maybe 15K to maybe 20K.. something…

    Spotsylvania went from 15K to 115K.

    VDOT wanted a beltway around Fredericksburg… and the Chamber wanted it along with just about everyone who would benefit financially from more homes… but no money…. and no preservation of the corridors either.

    The growth.. the fast past of the growth overwhelmed our primary and secondary roads – not to mention doubling the northbound commuter traffic from our area to NoVa jobs.

    The MPO FED rules tell the story.

    VDOT and the localities like to build and maintain “wish” lists of roads.

    The Feds required the MPOs to NOT do wish lists. Instead their two lists – the TIP (6yr window) and the CLRP (25-30yr window) can ONLY contain projects which have identified funding.

    This forces prioritization both with respect to projects and budget.

    Bottom Line – It is up to Frederick County and Winchester to put together a viable financial plan for their transportation network and to cease the “wishful thinking” planning approach.

    PLAN … explicitly .. for GROWTH.. PLAN explicitly for the impacts of growth on infrastructure and services.

    To accept and encourage growth without meaninful planning.. is.. not responsible…

    It’s the local government version of a couple having 10 kids and thinking two bedrooms will do the trick…

    This is why I continue to think that citizen BOS in fast growing counties is a recipe for disaster.

    You either get folks in bed with the development community.. interested in using the government to enhance/maximize their wealth-gathering endeavors at the expense of the public or you get well-meaning individuals who are totally out of their league with regard to dealing effectively with growth and development.

    Rodger Provo keeps asserting that the State of Va needs to get involved with planning.

    I’m becomming more of a convert but I still have misgivings if it ends up being done… like VDOT has done statewide planning.

  9. Anonymous Avatar


    Fairfax county should write a best practices document that explains what Not to do when having a county grow so then other areas could learn from the mistakes and do a better job.

    I look at all the other parts of Virginia and its a mirror image of Fairfax in 2000, 1990, 1980, 1970, etc.

    I have a feeling the same mistakes are going to be made 🙁


  10. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The problem is .. that much, much damage is and can be done by those in office over 4 years.

    Whether by nefarious design or idle incompetence – the result is the same.

    What the state has done – is tell localities, in effect, to start incorporating transportation infrastructure needs into your Comp Plan and land-use decisions.

    I see the prior years lack of doing this – as.. essentially, State-sponsored irresponsibility.

    Even local BOS folks I respected would claim that road needs were VDOT’s responsibility – no matter how much traffic would be generated nor how long it would take VDOT to accumulated enough money to deal with the traffic.

    They all just threw up their hands and said essentially .. “no matter what we decide about land-use decisions.. there is NOTHING we can do about the transportation impacts”.

    Even the planners would do this.

    Only in the last few years are anything resembling true traffic analysis done with respect to rezoning proposals..

    Things are better now.. but we have years, decades of neglect.. trying to catch up on….

    the best thing that citizens in Frederick and Winchester can do is to hold their local elected officials feet to the fire when they made land-use decisions.

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