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Zoning & Subdivision Ordinance Update

Town of Abingdon

Since 2019, the Berkley Group has been working with the Town of Abingdon in a phased update of the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances. In early 2020, the Berkley Group performed a diagnostic of the Town of Abingdon’s Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances. The Berkley Group also provided a content-neutral sign ordinance consistent with federal case law, which was adopted in September of 2020. Building off this diagnostic, the Berkley Group is conducting a comprehensive update of the ordinances. The Town’s ordinances were last fully updated in 1993 and changes to zoning law and best practices have since occurred that will be addressed in this update.

A key focus of this update is to ensure compliance with State Code and to streamline the documents for use by Town staff, developers, and citizens alike. Other community priorities identified through stakeholder interviews, a public survey, and public workshop conducted by the Berkley Group include:

  • Align the ordinances with the newly adopted Comprehensive Plan;

  • Preserve historic areas of the Town;

  • Provide community design guidelines to beautify entrance corridors and commercial areas;

  • Create new housing opportunities;

  • Expand opportunities for infill development;

  • Consolidate and modernize uses and definitions;

  • Encourage redevelopment of existing and underutilized structures and properties; and,

  • Retain the existing character of the town while adapting to new development trends and demands.

 

The new ordinance will be fully illustrated with graphics depicting zoning terminology, district standards, and community design guidelines. This hybrid approach to zoning responds to a growing need for ordinances that are clear and easily interpreted by both staff and citizens.

An important focus of the update is to ensure that the historic district regulations result in a well-preserved, economically-viable downtown. As a result of public feedback, the update will consolidate the 15 historic subdistricts into 5-6 subdistricts to reduce administrative and regulatory barriers to economic development. The Berkley Group has conducted a detailed district analysis and proposed amendments to the zoning map using Esri ArcMap to facilitate this consolidation.

The Berkley Group is also reviewing and updating the Town’s floodplain overlay district to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements. The Town’s floodplain overlay will be revised to remove conflicting internal language between the overlay district and the ordinances and to adopt concise and clear standards for administration. The Berkley Group will work with the Town’s designated Floodplain Administrator and relevant state and federal agencies to develop a well-functioning overlay district.

Adoption is anticipated in April 2022.