The Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations has taken a formal position opposing residential studio units (RSUs) in residential areas that are zoned for a density less than R-20.
That action follows passage of a similar resolution by the Mason District Council of Community Associations (MDC) earlier this month. The MDC is urging local residents to sign an online petition urging the Board of Supervisors to reject the RSU zoning category unless these units are banned from most residential areas and certain other changes are made to protect stable neighborhoods.
Members of the Fairfax Federation approved a resolution Sept. 19 supporting a proposed amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance to permit RSUs, but only if certain conditions are met, including the following:
- Studio’ units should only be permitted in planned, commercial, and multifamily residential zones.
- The conversion of single-family detached homes or townhouses into studio units should be prohibited.
- To ensure compatibility with existing housing, studio units should only be permitted by special exception in residential districts R-20 and greater, and the number of dwelling units should be limited to the maximum number of units permitted in that district. [R-20 zoning means up to 20 units per acre.]
- Studio units must be subject to current requirements for open space and parking spaces.
- The amended ordinance should remove the proposal county staff stating that “all residential studio developments and their accessory uses shall not be subject to or included in the calculation of the maximum density (dwelling units or persons per acre) or intensity (floor area ratio) provisions specified for the zoning district in which they are located, whether a stand-alone use or when collocated on a lot with any other use.”
- Studio units should be permitted primarily in areas with adequate open space, convenient access to neighborhood retail services, and along major thoroughfares served by established transit routes, but not along connector roads that run through neighborhoods nor on the borders of neighborhoods.
- Studio units should be located within one-quarter of a mile to an active transit stop (rail stop (Metrorail, heavy rail, light rail or Virginia Rail Express) or bus stop located on major arterial streets.
- Studio units in other than residential districts should be limited to a maximum of 60 units per dwelling, as they are elsewhere in the commonwealth of Virginia.
- Studio units shall be at least 90 percent single occupancy. No unit should have more than two occupants.
- Buildings with a studio unit must be at least 1,000 feet from any other building with a studio unit.
“The federation recognizes that housing is needed for those who are elderly, handicapped, and newly entering the labor market,” the resolution states. However, the federation also “recognizes that people are justified in expecting the character of their neighborhoods to remain stable.”