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A Proposed Virginia Bill Would Effectively Ban Single-Family Zoning

by Nena Perry-Brown

In a year when the nationwide housing crisis led many to question single-family zoning, the state of Virginia is entertaining a single-family ban.

Yesterday, Virginia House Delegate Ibraheem S. Samirah filed a bill that would amend the state code to require all jurisdictions within the state to allow two residential units on any lot zoned for a single-family dwelling.

The bill describes the code change as enabling the development of "middle housing", defined in this case as duplexes, attached houses and detached accessory dwelling units. While each locality will establish its own design, setback, and other zoning requirements, the bill specifies that the regulations should "not, individually or cumulatively, discourage the development of all two-family housing types permitted through unreasonable costs or delay."

If this bill passes the state legislature and is voted into law, Virginia would be the second state, following Oregon, to effectively "ban" single-family zoning.

Delegate Samirah also filed a second bill that would permit one by-right detached or attached accessory dwelling unit (ADU) per single-family house. These ADUs can include guest houses, converted garages, basements, and attics.

While each jurisdiction would develop and enforce the exact requirements for its ADUs, the bill also states that those regulations should not require the owner of the property to live on the premises, whether in the single-family house or the ADU. It also specifies that the regulations should not be "so arbitrary, excessive, or burdensome, individually or cumulatively, as to unreasonably restrict the ability of property owners to utilize or create ADUs".

The bills are expected to officially be introduced when the 2020 legislative session begins on January 8th and will then be assigned to a committee for review.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a-proposed-virginia-bill-would-effectively-ban-single-family-zoning/16276

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