Zoning Amendments

Planning staff identifies potential improvements to the zoning ordinance throughout the year and assembles a package of amendments.  The latest package is targeted for adoption in June 2018.  Below is a table summarizing the amendments and a link to an annotated version of the draft ordinance.

Following a public hearing and positive recommendation by the Planning Commission, City Council adopted amendments to the zoning ordinance and fee compendium on June 18, 2018

Get the zoning amendments

Get the new Wireless Telecommunication Facility Review Fees

Get an annotated version of the June 2018 zoning amendments.

Questions or comments?  Contact Chris Chittum, Director.


Issue to be Addressed

Proposed amendment



Requirement for 60% of a building to be located between the minimum and maximum front yard lines creates unintended results.

Keep requirement, but reduce to 50%.


Treat solar energy systems like other electrical equipment.

Add solar energy systems to exemptions from height.  

Also see new definition of “solar energy system”


Use table for residential districts.

Wireless facilities – adjustments to implement new policy

Add “small cell” as a by-right use

Add Wireless Telecommunication Facility, not otherwise listed as a special exception.


Expand uses in MX Mixed Use district

Implement Wireless Telecommunication Facility Policy adopted by City Council.

Add short term rental as a special exception use in the MX district.

Add Meeting Hall as a special exception use in the MX district.

Add certain wireless facilities as permitted uses

Provides option of short-term rental of an entire dwelling unit or house.

Adaptive use of larger structures.


The current density threshold for the Commercial Neighborhood district seems low compared to typical building size/floor area for a typical apartment

Reduce minimum lot area per residential unit from 1,800 to 1,000 sf in the CN, Commercial-Neighborhood district.

There is no minimum in six other multiple purpose districts.


Implement Wireless Telecommunication Facility Policy adopted by City Council.

Add certain wireless facilities as permitted uses


Implement Wireless Telecommunication Facility Policy adopted by City Council.

Add certain wireless facilities as permitted uses


The State’s model floodplain overlay has several areas that are more restrictive than intended or lays out information that is beyond the scope of the overlay.

Define habitable space.

Allow change of nonconforming use.

Clarify elevation certificate requirements.

Allow wet flood proofing of certain buildings.

Clarify how historic structures may be exempt from certain requirements.

Generally, these amendments provide more flexibility to redevelop/rehabilitate buildings in flood zones.


Staff has determined that the 400 square foot maximum size for an accessory apartment is too restrictive.  It is not used as a housing option but would be if the cap on area were raised.

Requires a special exception in the RA, R-12, R-7, R-5, R3, and RM-1 districts.

Increase the cap to 800 sf or 80% of floor area of principal dwelling unit.

Accessory apartments are generally a favored housing type.  They must be associated with a single-family dwelling. Carriage houses are commonly used for accessory apartments. 

Roanoke County allows these by right in all single-family districts with a 50% or 1,500 s.f. cap.


B&B, homestays, and short-term rentals; Need to coordinate terms and regulations.

Expand scope of B&B in multiple purpose districts.

Add short-term rental to supplemental regulations

For B&Bs in MX or CN districts: remove requirement for residency; remove requirement for single-family dwelling; increase number of rooms to 10; and permit Meeting Hall as an accessory use.

The use requires a special exception review.


Gasoline station canopy standards create a conflict with expansion of an existing facility.

Remove canopy standards in Commercial Large Site and Light industrial districts.    

Make the landscaping strip a general requirement regardless of zone.


Outdoor storage areas are not required to be on an improved surface (can be dirt, which can lead to erosion issues)

Adding requirement for a paved surface or gravel to avoid erosion and dust.


Old language no longer needed.

Recast to refer directly to commercial motor vehicle.

Also see amendment to commercial motor vehicle definition.


New wireless policy adopted by council, and state regs that limit regulation of some facilities

The entire section is being updated.


We are seeing increased activity with Workshops (small scale manufacturing/assembly) in urban areas like downtown; maker space.

Increase maximum size to 10,000 sf.


A proposed amendment to the Erosion and Sediment Control code will raise the disturbed area threshold to 2,500 s.f.

Raise threshold for basic development plan eligibility to 2,500 sf of land disturbed.

620 et al

Do not intend to regulate certain types of decorative lighting.

Define and exempt decorative neon and festoon lighting

642(c)(1) and (3)

Metal screens are often used, particularly for roof-mounted equipment. Those screens typically have open spaces for air circulation

Clarify materials and design for screening


Tall retaining walls can be built at the street with no setback or screening

McClanahan Park example, had complaints on this from development community

Add a screening requirement (and planting strip) for evergreen shrubs in front of retaining walls greater than 5-6’ in height in a front yard.


Replace minimum opacity with maximum open area for clarity

Fence or wall with 60% or greater opacity 40 maximum open space.

660 et al

Gilbert v Reed SCOTUS decision identified a constitutionality issue with regulating signs differently based on the content of the sign or who places the sign.

Our blanket exemption of “political signs” bases decision to regulate (or not) on what the sign says or who placed the sign.

Feather signs move and are therefore inconsistent with other sign regulations that generally prohibit movement.

Need more consistency measuring sign area.

Some electronic readerboards are too bright at night and cause glare.

Insert substitution clause in Applicability section

Exemptions – replace political sign exemption with exemption for generic temporary signs in residential districts.

Simplify exemptions for real estate signs, public service signs, and construction signs.  Apply consistent sign area allowances.

Redefine on-premises sign as anything other than an off-premises sign.

Redefined Temporary sign based on method of display and materials.

Specifically prohibit feather signs

Clarify method of measuring sign area.

Added limitations on the illumination level for electronic readerboard signs.

Non-commercial signs (political, ideological) in non-residential districts will need a sign permit (just like any other sign does)

More inclusive term incorporating signs with noncommercial messages.


Modify bed and breakfast to remove specification of single-family dwelling and broaden to include possibility of meeting hall function.

Modify commercial motor vehicle definition to include hazardous material transport.

Add solar energy system definition.  Exempts from screening requirement.

Always regulated by special exception in residential districts.