Virginia Beach developer, RST Development LLC, requested a rezoning (Residential-1 to Planned Residential Development) for 19.51-acres along Route 29 in Places 29 North for RST Residences (Figures 1 and 2). The rezoning is proposed on the former Ridgewood Mobile Home Park, which provided the community with 68 mobile homes and 10 efficient apartments. The rezoning would permit a maximum of 370 units (254 multifamily apartments and 108 townhouse units) with a gross density of 18.97 units/acre.
PEC has raised multiple concerns about the rezoning, including conformance with the comprehensive plan, lack of meaningful contribution to affordable housing needs, use of special exceptions, and other concerns related to connectivity, private roads, impacts to public schools, and tree canopy. For more, you can read our comments to the planning commission.
Update – March 3
During the March 2 Planning Commission public hearing, the applicant provided amendments to their rezoning application. RST Residences will now allocate 75% of its 375 units to renters earning between 30% and 80% of the area median income (AMI) for a period of 30 years.
PEC provided supportive public comments recognizing the significant improvements to the affordable housing component that addressed a large portion of our concerns. We also spoke about the importance of the applicant and county working together to address, among other things, connectivity, public transit, and walkability.
Members of the Planning Commission were supportive of these changes as well, and recognized their desire to eventually support this rezoning; however, there were still many aspects that the Planning Commission asked to be addressed before it could recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors, including on-site public transit, inclusion of adequate open-space amenities available for year-round use, public school impacts, and buffers.
After a motion and second were made to recommend denial of the rezoning, the applicant requested indefinite deferral. The Planning Commission obliged, voting unanimously (6-0) to defer the rezoning.
Issues with the rezoning
The county should prioritize developing greyfields/brownfields and areas located within existing developed areas, with good access to services, prior to developing greenfields and areas located beyond reasonable connection to core areas in the developed areas. Otherwise, the result could be premature expansion of the growth area.
RST Residences is not located within or adjoining the core development area near Hollymead nor Forest Lakes Town Centers, nor does it have the supporting infrastructure to successfully connect it to existing development. At best, we believe this proposal is premature. Housing developments should be located within existing, core developed areas and be within walking distance to public transit, job centers, schools, and other essential services.
The developer has proffered a minimum of 50% affordable housing, which can be sold or rented for 80% of the area mean income (AMI). However, each of these units are term-limited for a 10-year rental period (unless sold as affordable housing), and can be converted to market-rate units afterwards, then permanently sold or rented as such. In other words, this project could provide ZERO affordable housing after 10 years.
County Permit Viewer – ZMA202000007
Smart growth requires inclusive, walkable, public transit-oriented communities. This necessitates land use policies and transportation investments to make those communities flourish. The proposed RST Residences rezoning along Route 29 in the Places 29 North (Figure 3) is not consistent with these values. In order for this project to be considered smart growth, it should include:
- Closer proximity to core development areas;
- Extended affordable housing rental periods (30-years as a standard, 99-years as an aspiration);
- Onsite public transit;
- Public roads;
- Proffers to address public schools; and
- Increased tree canopy.
If these facets cannot be included, then the proposal will not provide a long-term solution to develop a livable community in the Places 29 growth area.
Figure 1: RST Residences Site Plan:
Figure 2: RST Residences Aerial Site View Concept:
Figure 3: Places 29 North Future Land Use Map:
Questions? Please reach out to PEC field representative, Chris Hawk, at email@example.com.