Greenway Downs Overlay Concept

Planning Commission Listening SessionGreenway Downs Overlay District Illustration
  • Monday, March 4, 2013
  • 8:15 p.m.
  • Council Chambers
    City Hall
    300 Park Ave.
    Falls Church, VA 22046
The public is invited to a Listening Session on the Greenway Downs Overlay Concept during the Monday, March 4 Planning Commission Meeting. Those interested in submitting comments may do the following:
  • Send an email before or after the session
  • Mail comments before or after the session to:
    Planning Division
    300 Park Ave.
    Suite 300 West
    Falls Church, VA 22046
  • You may sign up to speak for up to 3 minutes at the session
    • Speaker slips will be available in the lobby of the Council Chamber
    • Speakers will be called in the order in which they submit their completed slip to the Planning Commission Clerk in front of and to the left of the Chamber
Major Components & Impact
The following breaks out the major components of the proposed Greenway Downs Overlay and summarizes the purpose of each.

Why Select the Greenway Downs Subdivision?
It is the largest, most contiguous neighborhood of single-family homes in Falls Church that share similar nonconforming features. This lends itself to the Overlay District approach. The nonconforming features are a significant impediment to needed improvements to the housing stock, which is primarily of concrete or cinder block construction dating to the 1940s.

Thirty Percent Lot Coverage
This is an increase over the present city-wide 25% and limits how much of the property can be covered by a roof. This provides relief to the typical Greenway Downs lot of 6,250 square feet by allowing the same amount of actual building footprint that is allowed on standard lots that are 7,500 square feet.

Total Impervious Coverage
Paved areas and roof would remain at 35% and the accessory structure (garage) is limited to 576 square feet. This is intended to reduce impervious paved areas and reduce garage size while allowing more house area.

Front Yard Setback of 20 Feet
This provides relief to the most common nonconforming feature. The 1928 subdivision establishes a 20 foot setback, which subsequently changed to 25 feet after the majority of the houses were built. The current code only allows a 3 foot wide porch, and a second story addition requires a variance.

Side Yard Setbacks Ranging Between 7 to 10 Feet, Totaling 17 Feet
This provides relief to the narrowness of the typical Greenway Downs lot, allows a house to be shifted to one side to create an open space or to provide sufficient space for a driveway and off-street parking, and also provides an additional 3 feet of house width to the present typical 30 foot house width.

Fire-Resistant Materials
Residential structures setback closer than 10 feet to the side property line will be required to be sided in fire-resistant materials to the satisfaction of the Fire Marshal.

Building Height is Reduced From 35 Feet to 30 Feet
This reduces the impact of additions and new structures on neighboring properties. With the front setback permitted at 20 feet, the reduction in permitted height will help to prevent houses looming over their neighbors.

Accessory Structures & Garages are Limited to 576 Square Feet & a Maximum Height of 12 Feet
There presently are no area restrictions on accessory structures and detached garages. There was discussion of requiring an increased side and rear yard setback for accessory buildings from 3 feet to 5 feet. Some felt this would result in accessory buildings being too close to the main house.

Driveways are Encouraged
Driveways are encouraged as a means of reducing on-street parking on the narrow streets, but the driveways are encouraged to be made of pervious materials and less surface total area. Several Planning Commissioners expressed concern about houses having large garage doors as a predominant design feature. Given the narrowness of the lots, it is recommended that garages located within a house and facing the street be limited to a one car width of 10 feet. Garages that fit 2 cars would be located to the rear of the house.

Sec. 48-1002(e) Allowable Building Projections
These projections found throughout the city are continued in Greenway Downs. These include porches, bay windows, chimneys, and similar features that are particularly difficult to do in Greenway Downs. Front porches would be allowed to project up to 8 feet as in other parts of the city. This is consistent with new urbanism design principals, and better use of the front yard area.

Sec. 48-1102(b) & (c) Shall not Apply
The current substandard lot consolidation provisions and the front yard averaging provisions will not apply to Greenway Downs properties. The lots are primarily in separate ownership, with separate addresses and assessment data. Therefore, consolidation of abutting lots is not practical or likely; the current front yard averaging provision would conflict with the attempt to give front yard setback relief.