With eye toward denser developments, Chesterfield weighs changes to parking space requirements

The Chesterfield County Administration Building at 9901 Lori Road. (BizSense file photo)

Chesterfield County is considering a proposal to dial down current parking space requirements to streamline and encourage higher density in areas zoned for apartment and townhouse developments.

For multifamily zoned areas, where apartment developments are permitted, the county’s zoning ordinance currently requires two parking spaces per residential unit. The code amendment would change that to two spaces per three-or-more-bedroom unit, 1.8 spaces per two-bedroom unit and 1.5 spaces per 0-1 bedroom unit.

Those requirements wouldn’t apply to apartment projects in special design districts, which would have the following requirements: 1.8 spaces per two-or-more-bedroom unit and 1.5 spaces per 0-1 bedroom unit.

Parking requirements for apartments developments in the Northern Jefferson Davis Highway and Employment Center districts would mirror those of the special design districts, though it would also include a base requirement for two spaces per three-or-more-bedroom unit.

Townhouse zoning would retain its two-spaces-per-residential-unit requirement already on the books. The code as written also requires a parking space in a communal lot for every five townhouse units in a development. That latter requirement would be tweaked to allow that fifth space to be in an on-street parking area as an alternative to a communal lot.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal Aug. 18. The commission then will make a formal recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for a final verdict.

The proposed changes are aimed at encouraging higher-density multiple family and townhouse developments in areas where the county already has mapped out plans for such development. Lower parking requirements are expected to encourage developers to invest in more amenities and open-space areas. The code amendment is also the county’s attempt to keep step with development trends.

“We’re moving more and more into mixed-use environments and we’re starting to see the rise of multifamily (developments) in the county,” Zoning Administrator Ray Cash said during a Planning Commission meeting last week.

Developers can and do seek permission for exemptions to current parking requirements, and reworking the rules would eliminate that procedural step.

“One of the first things that shows up in the (conditional use planned development application) is for a request for a reduction in parking,” Cash said.

County staff studied similar localities’ policies on parking requirements, and found that peer localities require on average 1.7 parking spaces per residential unit in multiple-family zoning, not including guest parking. At two spaces per multiple family unit, Chesterfield’s current requirements match Hanover and Henrico counties, Cash said.

Also on the table as part of the proposal is to incorporate credits for further parking reductions based on bike, pedestrian and transit access in multiple family-zoned areas.

The proposal comes amid a larger ongoing process to revamp the county’s zoning ordinance, a document that lays out what can be built where and under what circumstances. The ordinance has been mostly unchanged since 1997.

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
11 days ago

This step is in the right direction, and it’s time to make the change. The communities are way over-parked. If it hasnt been considered yet, it’s time to lower the parking requirements for the big box stores as well. The sea of asphalt in front of a Lowes or Home Depot is completely unnecessary and negatively impacts the environment.

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
11 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

A lot of the big box parking is actually because of the retailers themselves. They will go above and beyond what the locality’s parking regs say because they have their own models. Unfortunately it is usually for one or two days a year and sit empty most of the time.

Lee Thomas
Lee Thomas
11 days ago
Reply to  David Humphrey

The solution for that is to include parking/paving maximums (spaces, lot coverage, and square footage are all options) as well.

Last edited 11 days ago by Lee Thomas
Leon Phoenix
Leon Phoenix
8 days ago

This isn’t about parking or the environment. It’s about politicians in the pockets of greedy developers who want to cram people into less space and urbanize the suburbs. They’d like to turn Chesterfield into Arlington or Bethesda which would increase traffic and roads, increase air and noise pollution, and harm the environment (not help it). Don’t believe the hype. This high-density nonsense isn’t about helping you. It’s about helping rich developers become richer and cramming you and your kids into less space and more traffic.

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
8 days ago
Reply to  Leon Phoenix

Or maybe it is about maximizing infrastructure. Or helping to combat sprawl. You can’t have it both ways. Either sprawl will happen or some areas will need to get denser.

Leon Phoenix
Leon Phoenix
7 days ago
Reply to  David Humphrey

Urban areas need to get denser, not the suburbs. There’s plenty of unused space in Richmond which has an abundance of urban wastelands just begging for renewal. But the land prices are higher in the city, so the greedy developers push this myth that high density is needed in the suburbs. The people are being duped.