What is the purpose of the Land Use Scenario Analysis (April-June 2021) for the five neighborhood areas along the corridor?
The Planning Team’s goal with the land use scenarios is to open the door to meaningful discussions with the community, and to make informed decisions. The development scenarios test various land use mixes, heights, and densities within the defined Core Study Area (commercial and multifamily properties) and abutting Residential Edges so that the Planning Team can understand the impacts of different types of development and ways to achieve additional community improvements, other than what would be provided through by-right development.
The scenarios also explore different ways that the County and the private sector can work together to help achieve the community’s aspirations and County goals (i.e. improvements to Lee Hwy., affordable housing, stormwater management, open space, street grid expansion, enhanced walkability and bicycle access, etc.).
The 2016 Visioning Study, Existing Conditions Analysis, and previous community feedback informed the creation of the land use scenarios. The Planning Team now has a better understanding of the challenges to be addressed in each area.
The scenarios are not alternatives, and the County is not asking the community to choose one of the scenarios. The Planning Team wants to understand what the community likes and doesn’t like about the scenarios and to clarify what the priorities are because it is likely that there will be some compromise.
What are the next steps?
This process is intended to develop a long-range plan to guide decisions over the next 5-, 10-, 20- years and beyond that supports the eleven elements of the County’s Comprehensive Plan, which includes the General Land Use Plan, Master Transportation Plan, Public Spaces Master Plan, and Affordable Housing Master Plan.
No conclusions have been made at this point. The Planning Team is currently conducting Phase 2 of the Planning Process. In this phase, staff is developing ideas, evaluating different land use scenarios, refining goals, and gathering community feedback. With community feedback on preliminary land use concepts, the Planning Team will be refining the ideas and developing a Preferred Concept Plan (PCP) which will be shared with the community in Fall 2021. Based on further community input, the PCP will be refined again (Phase 3) and provide the foundation for development, review, and adoption of the Plan (Phase 4). Our goal is to ultimately adopt the Lee Highway Plan in the spring of 2022. Please check the project website periodically for schedule updates.
Will the County initiate rezoning of private property, or be seizing private property through eminent domain?
No. The planning study will culminate with the County Board adopting a plan to guide future decisions on land use and rezoning applications. Each property owner will make their own decisions about whether to maintain their property unchanged, rely on existing by-right zoning to guide any subsequent changes to their property, or use other tools to apply the vision and recommendations under what will eventually be adopted as the Lee Highway Plan. The County will not be seizing private property through eminent domain to achieve the Plan’s recommendations. Furthermore, the County does not typically rezone private properties without a request or consent from the property owner.
For any envisioned community improvements (such as public spaces, streetscape enhancements, etc.) specified in the adopted Plan that will require additional land, the County would prioritize achieving such improvements through private redevelopment. In select instances where public improvements must be advanced separate from redevelopment projects, the County’s practice has typically been to pursue and negotiate the purchase of property from a willing seller.
The current zoning classifications will remain in place, unless changes envisioned by the plan are pursued by individual property owners. As the Planning Team has not yet reached an adopted plan and land use recommendations, they are unable to say with certainty now what zoning regulations would guide development envisioned by the Plan. Property owners will continue to be able to improve their property as permitted by the underlying zoning district regulations. If a rezoning is ultimately needed by the property owner, the rezoning process is a public process and allows for community input.
Why is the Planning Team studying the Residential Edges of Lee Highway?
Through prior analysis, staff observed that the parcels directly fronting Lee Highway are very shallow and may limit opportunities for development in several of the five neighborhood areas. Additionally, the Lee Highway street right-of-way is narrow in some areas, which impacts the potential to accommodate all modes of travel (bicycles, pedestrians, and vehicles) safely and adequately.
The Planning Team needs to understand the opportunities and challenges when considering consolidating single-family lots with the shallow parcels along Lee Highway and/or how the Residential Edges could support missing middle housing forms.
The potential benefits of consolidating parcels include:
- providing more opportunities for mixed use and multi-family residential development along the Lee Highway frontage, which could provide a mechanism to achieve affordable housing along the corridor;
- providing the opportunity to establish a cohesive streetscape along Lee Highway with wider sidewalks, street trees, a separate and protected bicycle lane, and reduced curb cuts to minimize serious injuries and fatalities (Vision Zero goal); and
- providing more opportunities to achieve gradual building height transitions.
Changes to the Residential Edges will only happen if property owners sell their property to a developer. The County will not be purchasing private properties to assemble land for developers to achieve the changes envisioned by the Plan. If, in the future, a property owner sells their property to a developer, the developer will have to submit an application for review and approval and obtain permits to develop the property. Please refer to the previous question for how changes envisioned by the plan will be implemented.
The County’s Planning Team understands that redevelopment of single-family residential edges may not be supported in all neighborhoods. The Planning Team will take the community’s input into consideration as the Preferred Concept Plan is formed, and will provide additional opportunities for community feedback in future phases of the study.
Will impact to traffic be addressed?
As the community feedback is analyzed and a Preferred Concept Plan developed, the Planning Team (in coordination with VDOT) will also complete an analysis of Lee Highway, major intersecting streets, and intersections to evaluate the transportation strategies, by travel mode, that may be needed to mitigate the impacts of potential population growth. The Planning Team will strive to:
- promote low-carbon mobility, and greater mobility choice for all users;
- explore alternatives that have two lanes of travel in each direction on Lee Highway (additional left turn lanes will be studied at key intersections);
- create a parallel network and establish a walkable street grid at key nodes;
- explore opportunities to calm traffic and improve key intersections;
- explore how to expand pedestrian space and provide separated/protected bicycle lanes along Lee Highway (such as on private land adjoining the R.O.W. in many cases) to improve safety and eliminate serious injuries and fatalities (Vision Zero goal);
- improve transit capacity and experience (especially at peak travel times) through transit-oriented development and new transit options (such as Microtransit and Bus Rapid Transit); and
- improve accommodations for Personal Electric Vehicles and Self-Driving Autonomous Vehicles.
Will planning for schools and other public facilities be addressed?
As the community feedback is analyzed and a Preferred Concept Plan developed, the Planning Team will examine possible impacts to public facilities and schools. Through separate processes, the County Board (or School Board) may direct staff to plan for, design, and/or construct new public facilities along the Lee Highway corridor. The future Lee Highway Plan could be used to guide future capital facility projects.
In coordination with Arlington Public Schools staff, the Planning Team will identify the potential student enrollment growth based on the preferred concept plan. If additional facilities are needed to meet that potential growth, the Lee Highway Plan would offer recommendations for where facilities could be considered and evaluated through future studies.
Similarly, the County’s existing inventory of recreational, library, and cultural assets (land and buildings) will be evaluated to explore opportunities for future acquisition, expansion, renovation, redevelopment, consolidation, and co-location of uses to steward public resources and use them efficiently and creatively. The Planning Team will evaluate the potential for public-private development (mixed-use) at the Lee Community Center and Langston Brown Community Center sites to better understand how this option may achieve other community improvements (additional community spaces, stormwater management, affordable housing, etc.).
How much height is recommended?
The heights and densities tested are driven by economically viable development and desired public improvements. Some land use scenarios explore minimal height/density increases to enable private investment, tangible site improvements, and some affordable housing. Other land use scenarios explore greater height/density increases to create incentives that spur additional community improvements from private investment in key locations (stormwater management, publicly accessible open spaces, major intersection improvements, street grid expansion, and greater affordability contributions).
Will the County be displacing existing businesses?
No, those are private market decisions between business owners and their respective landlord/property owner. The County encourages existing business owners to participate in the study and contribute their ideas on the future of Lee Highway, including providing feedback on what is working well for business owners, what can be improved, and ideas for how to achieve those improvements and continue the successes of the Lee Highway corridor.
What if a developer wants to proceed with a new building before the planning process is complete?
The County encourages developers who are interested in development/redevelopment along the Lee Highway corridor to monitor and participate in the planning process and contribute feedback like other stakeholders. If a developer or property owner chooses to pursue development plans while the planning process is underway, the County will review the application following the appropriate type of process needed for the request, including any applications for by-right development. We would encourage developers to delay submitting proposals for any major land use or zoning district changes until the planning process is completed in order to ensure that development projects reflect the community’s future vision. The future adopted policies and tools will be in place to facilitate a clear and efficient review process. If a proposal for a site plan, General Land Use Plan amendment, or rezoning is submitted during the planning process, it may take more time for review given that this planning process is underway and adopted policy is not in place.
Where can I learn more and stay up to date on developments and future opportunities for community engagement with Plan Lee Highway?
Please consider subscribing to the PLH eNews for updates on feedback received, future opportunities to provide feedback, and other study developments.
Please visit the project study’s Documents page to review presentation materials, including the land use scenario analysis. The Neighborhood Inspiration Report and Appendix provide a detailed summary of the community feedback received during the workshop for all of the neighborhood areas.
How can I provide my feedback?
If you would like to provide feedback before the next public engagement period, please contact us at email@example.com.