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Urban Development Areas Grant
Overview
Urban Development Areas (UDA) were originally authorized by the Code of Virginia in 2007 (Virginia Code § 15.2-2223.1.) as a requirement for certain high growth localities to designate areas “sufficient to meet projected residential and commercial growth in the locality for an ensuing period of at least 10 but not more than 20 years.”  Under the code designation, UDAs are areas designated by a locality in their comprehensive plan for proximity to transportation facilities, redevelopment/infill potential, and higher density development, specifically at least four single-family residences per acre, six townhouses per acre, or 12 apartment-style units per acre, and commercial development densities equivalent to at least a floor area ratio of 0.4.  In 2012, however, the Code was amended to define UDAs more broadly and make them optional rather than mandatory.  In addition, under the House Bill 2 legislation established in 2014, areas designated as UDAs in a local comprehensive plan may have an additional level of potential eligibility for transportation funding from the State.

The Town currently meets the State Code provisions for UDA densities per current zoning, and exceeds the townhouse guidelines with a zoning district allowing for ten townhouses per acres. The Code also specifies that UDAs shall incorporate the principles of Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND). TND embodies classic characteristics of traditional communities such as walkable neighborhood centers, interconnected streets and blocks, diversity of land uses and easy access to jobs, housing and recreation by a variety of travel options (auto, bus, walk, bike, etc.). The Code also recommends that the Comprehensive Plan describe any financial or other incentives for development in the UDAs.

The State Code recommends that the UDAs be able to accommodate the projected residential and commercial growth for the next 10 to 20 years. The Town is expected to add approximately 5,012 people during the next 15 years. This growth will require an estimated 1,973 housing units and 118,380 square feet of commercial space (retail and commercial), as shown in Table 1 - Town of Christiansburg Projected Population. The Town has designated a series of areas for adoption as UDAs based on an analysis of their potential for new development and/or redevelopment through location, existing development patterns, zoning and access to infrastructure.  

Each UDA represent acceptable locations to accommodate targeted growth and/or capacity for revitalized and new development, given the community’s vision, as well as representing areas readily offering the infrastructure support necessary to make TND projects successful. In general, these UDAs have been located based upon State Code guidance such that they feature:

  • Proximity to existing transportation facilities,
  • Availability of public water and sewer systems, 
  • Proximity to areas of existing development, and
  • Opportunities for new development or revitalization of existing development. 

Comprehensive Plan Amendment
Following the grant work a Comprehensive Plan Amendment was pursued by the Planning Department in order to amend the 2013 Comprehensive Plan to allow for four Urban Development Areas within the Town of Christiansburg. Text will be added to Chapter 8 Community and Economic Development of the Comprehensive Plan and include Goals and Strategies specific to the urban development areas. Text has been added to Chapter 5 Infrastructure Services to prioritize utility improvements in the urban development areas. Text has been added to Chapter 7 Transportation to create TRN 1.2C under Transit and Multi-Modal Transportation Goals and Strategies. The Future Land Use Map has been edited to include the boundaries of the urban development areas. 

Public Hearing Process
  1. Planning Commission Public Hearing: October 17, 2016
  2. Planning Commission Action: October 17, 2016
  3. Town Council Public Hearing: November 8, 2016
  4. Town Council Action: November 22, 2016

Public Participation
An Open House was held on June 20, 2016 at the Christiansburg Recreation Center to solicit public comment. The Open House allowed the public to discuss their views on the UDAs with the grant consultants and Planning Department staff. 

No public comment was provided during either public hearing.

UDA Locations
Four UDA’s have been selected to take advantage of existing facilities and infrastructure, and to introduce TND in a way that best promotes the Town’s vision for its future growth, with designated boundaries as shown on the UDA Boundaries Map.  The UDA boundaries will be periodically reviewed and updated as needed through a public process. The four UDA’s are:

  1. Cambria UDA - is approximately 41.89 Acres and its boundary generally follows the contours of the current General Business (B-3) Zoning District. Targeted growth should be focused along Cambria Street through the adaptive reuse or redevelopment of existing buildings and developable parcels to allow for commercial uses along the ground floor with residential above, while developing policies that protect the character of the Cambria neighborhood. 
  2. Downtown UDA - is approximately 191 Acres and is defined by a roadway network that includes N. Franklin, Depot, First and Main streets. Targeted growth should include a mix of infill and new mixed-use development with active commercial use at the ground level.
  3. Institute UDA - is approximately 257.5 Acres, its boundary is centered along N Franklin Street, and its outer edges are defined by Norfolk and Southern Railway to the south and U.S Route 460 to the north. Targeted growth should reinforce the current institutional, residential and commercial uses, future passenger rail train station and promote connectivity to the Huckleberry Trail. 
  4. Mall UDA - is approximately 885.5 Acres and is defined by the intersection of N Franklin Street and Peppers Ferry Road. The Mall UDA can accommodate greater levels of growth due to the availability of sizable developable parcels. Targeted growth over time must address the lack of pedestrian connectivity within and between existing developments and between large street blocks that are separated by wide street corridors. Targeted growth in the Mall UDA should focus on redeveloping existing commercial strip malls into viable mixed-use developments that are walkable and are supported by alternatives modes of transportation, in order to maintain and expand the Mall area’s role as the premier regional mixed-use shopping center district and park.

To view the Comprehensive Plan in its entirety please click here.
To view the 2016 Urban Development Area report please click here.