Section 148-16 OPTIONAL OPEN SPACE SUBDIVISION.
A. As an option and alternative to the standards of the town's Subdivision and Land Developmental Ordinance and to the developmental standards of the town's residential district zoning ordinances, open space subdivisions as provided herein may be permitted in R-1 and R-2 Residential Zoning Districts upon approval of a special permit, pursuant to Section 175-136, by the Front Royal Town Council.
B. Eligibility. An open space subdivision shall meet the following requirements:
1. The land to be subdivided shall contain a minimum of five (5) contiguous acres.
2. In no case shall an open space subdivision result in the creation of more building lots than would occur in a standard subdivision.
3. The open space subdivision shall be consistent with the Town of Front Royal Comprehensive Plan.
4. The open space subdivision shall not be harmful to the character of the area or to property values of existing nearby developments.
5. Except as provided herein, the open space subdivision shall otherwise comply in all respects with the Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance of the Town of Front Royal.
6. An open space subdivision shall be designed to preserve substantial areas of natural open space, to provide adequate buffering between structures and adjacent properties, to connect when feasible with open space tracts on neighboring properties, to produce an attractive, creative and efficient use of land, to protect the local ecology and the quality and quantity of underground and surface water, to minimize flooding and erosion and to maintain and enhance the appearance, character and natural features of an area.
C. General design considerations. In preparing an open space subdivision plan and special permit application, the following general design considerations should be taken into account.
1. The use of small clusters is to be encouraged. Lots and buildings should be laid out to form small clusters, with each cluster having immediately contiguous or surrounding open space.
2. A massive concentration of building lots and structures is to be avoided. The maximum number of building lots per cluster shall be twenty (20).
3. Adequate consideration should be given to the character of each cluster. The scale and type of individual buildings should be compatible with the neighborhood and natural environment.
4. Adequate consideration should be given to the need for privacy within a cluster. The layout and design of lots and yard areas, including decks, patios and rear yard facilities, should be done in a manner that promotes a maximum amount of individual privacy. Consideration should be given to proper screening using both vegetation and fencing consideration should be given to the design of structures and the materials used in construction so as to promote privacy, both audio and visual.
1. The applicant shall submit an application for an open space subdivision special permit. The applicant shall include a preliminary plat prepared in accordance with the criteria of the Front Royal Subdivision and the Land Development Regulations and as further provided herein.
2. The preliminary open space subdivision plat shall be submitted and advertised for public hearing on the special use permit in accordance with the provisions of Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-2204, as amended.
(Ord. No. 17-00 Amended Virginia Code Reference (2) 9-25-00-Effective Upon Passage)
3. Upon approval of the preliminary plat and the special permit for an open space subdivision, the applicant may submit a final open space subdivision plat. Said plat shall be in substantial conformance with the preliminary plat and shall comply with the criteria for a final subdivision plat.
E. Development standards and controls.
1. Lots approved under this section shall meet the following minimum dimensional requirements:
R-1 District -- Lot size (square feet) 7,000
R-2 District -- Lot size (square feet) 5,600
All districts -- Lot frontage (feet) 40
Minimum lot width at building line (feet) 50
Front yard setback (feet) 25
Rear yard depth (feet) 25
Side yard width (feet) 7
Minimum dedicated natural open space 20% (percentage of total land area within the boundaries of the subdivision)
2. A landscaped buffer shall be provided along the perimeter of the open space subdivision to separate newly subdivided lots from existing contiguous lots. Except as may hereinafter be provided, the minimum width of the buffer shall be forty (40) feet. The landscaped buffer must be maintained as natural open space. The landscaped buffer may count toward the twenty-percent open space requirement. Upon application, the Town Council may approve a reduction in the width of the landscaped buffer for specified areas only in cases where the council finds all of the following:
a. The overall landscaped buffer area meets or exceeds an average of forty (40) feet.
b. Exceptional topographic conditions exist on the property that place a hardship on the property owner by unreasonably restricting the use of the property.
c. The waiver results in a more desirable site layout.
d. There will not be a resulting detriment or adverse impact to adjacent properties.
F. Open space standards and controls.
1. A minimum of twenty percent (20%) of the gross land area of the parcel to be subdivided shall be dedicated as natural open space. Up to twenty-five percent (25%) of this requirement may be satisfied with land covered by water. The dedicated open space shall not be included in subdivision building lots or in building lot size calculations. Dedicated open space shall include the land necessary to provide access to the open space.
2. The open space land shall be shown on the subdivision plat and shall be labeled to specify that the land has been dedicated to open space purposes. The plat shall specify that the open space land shall not be further subdivided or developed and is permanently reserved for natural open space purposes.
3. The open space land shall be conveyed by the applicant as a condition of subdivision approval and may be conveyed by any of the following means as determined by the Town Council:
a. Deeded in perpetuity to the Town of Front Royal.
b. Deeded to a homeowners' association within the subdivision upon terms and conditions approved by the Town Attorney that will ensure the continued use and management of the land for the intended purposes. A copy of the proposed homeowners' association shall be submitted with the application.
c. Reserved for common use or ownership of all property owners within the subdivision by covenants approved by the Town Attorney in the deeds. A copy of the proposed covenants shall be submitted with the application.
d. Deeded in perpetuity to a private, nonprofit, tax-exempt land conservancy under terms and conditions that ensure the perpetual protection and management of the property for conservation purposes. A copy of the proposed deed and relevant corporate documents of the land trust shall be submitted with the application. All deeds, covenants or other instruments shall be reviewed and approved by the Front Royal Town Attorney, to ensure that open space land is properly reserved in perpetuity and will not be subsequently developed.