Zoning Text Amendments

Zoning Text Amendments2024-04-02T17:58:15+00:00

Roanoke City Council has approved zoning reform for complete neighborhoods through amendments to the zoning ordinance that expand housing opportunities. Watch the video below for a summary of the amendments. Click the links to view the approved Ordinance and Report.

These text amendments are the second in a series and will continue to address priorities, policies, and actions of City Plan 2040. Priorities include:

  • Harmony with Nature | Priority One: Sustainable Land Development

  • Interwoven Equity | Priority One: Trust

  • Interwoven Equity | Priority Three: Neighborhood Choice

  • Livable Built Environment | Priority Two: Complete Neighborhoods

  • Livable Built Environment | Priority Four: Housing

  • City Design | Land Use | Priority: Design for Permanence

  • City Design | Land Use | Priority: Purposeful Land Use


The amendments remove exclusionary zoning practices, implement the comprehensive plan, and remove regulatory barriers to housing opportunities. Below are the general descriptions of the changes to the zoning code. Click here view a summary pdf of the proposed amendments.

  • Regulate dwelling as a land use

    The proposed new code would simply permit dwellings in the use tables for residential, multiple purpose, and planned unit development districts.

    The proposed code would regulate the number of dwellings permitted on a given lot in the dimensional regulations for the districts.  There would be a general increase in dwellings permitted across residential districts, with additional dwellings permitted on corner lots. The required lot area per dwelling and an absolute cap would work together to determine the number of dwellings permitted on a given lot.

  • Define Household to include Family and Nonfamily Living Arrangements

    The current code defines a household based on the familial relationships of the occupants and some forms of group living are already classified as a family by federal law. The proposed amendments redefine the term household in a way that will retain existing family living arrangements, maintain federally required living arrangements, and add nonfamily living arrangements for up to eight people sharing a dwelling.

  • Simplify various Group Care Facility types into a single Group Living land use

    The proposed text amendments would allow for permanent group housing for nine or more people in more areas and remove discriminatory limitations on housing choice. With the proposed changes, the zoning code will govern the land use taking place rather than the condition or prior status of people. The proposed code would regulate group living just like multifamily dwellings.

  • Replace Transitional Living Group Care Facility with small scale Community Housing Services and larger scale Regional Housing Services

    By defining a small-scale Community Services use classification, the proposed text amendment would remove barriers to small-scale temporary housing in multiple purpose districts and higher intensity residential districts.

  • Reclassify Dwelling Types

    The proposed code will classify new and existing dwelling types in order to manage form, location, and orientation of structures so they will be compatible in neighborhood settings.

  • Ensure the City uses remaining land efficiently

    This proposal would make changes to the dimensional regulations of each residential zoning district that would allow for the more efficient development of the limited vacant residentially zoned land within the City. Roanoke is nearly built-out, which creates issues when faced with a deficit of housing. An example of the changes that are under consideration include the reduction of lot area per dwelling unit requirements and the reduction of minimum lot sizes.

Text amendments were approved by City Council on March 18, 2024. 

Ways to get involved:

The following opportunities for involvement in the text amendment process were made available.

1. Attend an Open House Meeting

Please attend one of our upcoming community Open House meetings taking place in February. The event information is posted below.

2. Show Your Support

Participate in the Zoning Reform Campaign. Further details on how to get a free yard sign or purchase a shirt are located on this page.

3. Submit Feedback online

The online form has closed. Please check back for more virtual opportunities.

4. Participate in the Public Hearings

Public hearings will be held by both Planning Commission and City Council as part of the text amendment process. The comments heard during the public hearing will impact whether the text amendments are approved and adopted. Check back for public hearing dates and sign up for notifications via MyRoanoke.

Projected Timeline:

Say Yes to Housing!

Sign Campaign – Closed

The City of Roanoke is using a sign campaign to promote text amendments that expand housing opportunities. If you would like to receive a free sign, they will be available at the September and October Open House Meetings. If you are unable to make one of these meetings, additional signs will be made available in the Permit Center at 215 Church Avenue SW, Room 170 and at the Roanoke City Library Branches.

Shirt Campaign

If you are interested in getting your own Say Yes to Housing! shirt, click here to visit the PlanRoanoke campaign on Bonfire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Extrapolating on projections carried out in a city with higher development pressure, the yield should be fewer than 50 new units per year through conversions and new development. (Alexandria, VA)

Staff will monitor the number and characteristics of new units facilitated by the change in zoning regulations. Staff will report to the Planning Commission and City Council at the end of the first year to assess the effect on housing development.

Regarding overcrowding, there are no neighborhoods that are anywhere close to being overcrowded. In fact, many older neighborhoods have less population today due to fewer people per household on average.

A Citywide Housing Study performed in 2020 recognizes a need for 2,162 housing units by the year 2025. This number includes both owner-occupied and renter-occupied housing needs. Housing is a basic human right and should be available to all residents.

Scarcity of housing at all rent levels, particularly at the higher end, has led to sharp increases in rents. These increases have driven levels of cost burdening and extreme cost burdening far beyond acceptable levels. 52% of Roanoke’s households that rent are cost burdened, and 24% are extremely cost burdened. In real numbers, 11,434 households pay 30% or more of their income on gross rent and 5,386 are paying more 50% or more of their income on rent (Census 2022).

This is not a rezoning. The current zoning map and zoning districts will remain the same. City staff is proposing a number of amendments to the text within the Zoning Code.

A Citywide Housing Study confirmed that the majority (64%) of households are mismatched with their affordability range. This means that higher earning households are occupying lower cost units that would otherwise be affordable for lower earning households. By increasing a full range of housing options, individuals can start to obtain housing that is affordable for their income level.

Additionally, the proposed amendments allow for accessory dwelling options that by nature of size and location would rent for a lower rate. These accessory options also allow for additional income for homeowners that may otherwise struggle to pay their mortgages.

The City eliminated mandates for minimum parking as a way to facilitate housing development. To learn more about parking reform visit this link.

On-street parking is an accessible and shared resource for residents and visitors. Individuals that would like a designated personal parking space can create a driveway through the City’s permitting process. Many older neighborhoods with residents that heavily utilize on street parking also have access to their property via alleyways. The Zoning Code permits gravel parking off these alleyways, which is a lower cost option to create off-street parking.

Additionally, the proposed text amendments consider available street frontage when considering the number of dwelling permitted on a parcel. More units are permitted on corner lots as they have more street frontage to accommodate on-street parking.

Businesses and developers will typically consider parking needs when determining the financial viability of development or redevelopment of residential and commercial properties.

With fewer than 50 units created citywide per year, localized impact on parking is unlikely.

The quality and safety of conversions is a valid concern with or without the Zoning Reform proposal. Any new development or redevelopment of existing structures are required to go through a permitting process. As part of the permitting process, structures will be inspected for compliance with Building Code and Zoning Code. Structures are not permitted to be occupied unless compliance with these codes is met.

The City has a robust Codes Compliance Program that addresses illegal operations and inspects rental units within the rental inspection districts. Owners that convert illegally are subject to enforcement action.

The consolidation of group care facilities into a group living definition will not differentiate individuals with criminal backgrounds. There is no evidence of problems associated with housing for formerly incarcerated people so there is no compelling or objective reason to regulate it differently from other forms of housing. With the proposed changes, staff is recommending a policy that regulates the activity or use of property rather than regulating people and their backgrounds. Our current ordinance/code differentiates veterans, victims of domestic abuse, those with disabilities, formerly incarcerated individuals, and so on. While the nature of each individual’s struggles may be different, the nature of the living arrangement taking place on the property is the same. This new group living use will be permitted by special exception in RM-1 and RM-2. It will be permitted by-right in RMF.

Not at all. Community cohesion tends to be high in neighborhoods where more housing choices are available. Exclusionary zoning could hamper community cohesion because it may force people at different life stages to leave their neighborhood because there are no housing choices other than single-dwellings.

There is a bias against non-owner households that suggests they do not care about the condition of their property or the well-being of the surrounding community. Renter households can, and should, be just as concerned about their community as owners and can to contribute to community well-being at the same level. Civic groups should invite all households to participate community events and concerns.

The proposed text amendments consider the existing style of the City’s neighborhoods. Permissible dwelling units and types will be based on the specific size, location, and zoning district of each lot.

The amendments include new design controls in supplemental regulations for each dwelling type to ensure development fits into the fabric of existing neighborhoods by regulating location, size, and form.

City staff is proposing two new definitions that will address homeless housing. These definitions are community housing services and regional housing services. Community housing services will allow for small scale and hybrid models that accommodate housing for 12 individuals or less. This model will allow for dispersed and dignified housing options for homeless individuals. Regional housing services will accommodate larger scale operations and will only be permitted in the INPUD district by special exception. These proposed changes will alleviate the negative effects of larger, concentrated facilities.

Housing research provides evidence that homelessness is a housing scarcity problem rather than a collection of individual problems.  Research shows that rates of homelessness are far lower in communities that are able to create new units to expand the housing supply to keep up with demand (see Homelessness is a Housing Problem).

Rental units are needed within the City. A Citywide Housing Study performed in 2020 identified a need for 1,042 rental units by 2025.

City Council recently approved a Workforce Housing Fund. The fund was started with $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. The Workforce Housing Fund will provide loans for developers to create affordable housing units through redevelopment and new construction projects.

Additionally, there are state and federal resources and incentives available affordable housing construction.

The Citywide Housing Study recognized that low vacancy rates combined with a lack of new affordable housing is increasing competition and waiting lists for those with housing vouchers. By increasing opportunities to create housing across the City, there will be more opportunities for those with housing vouchers to find housing. Your Content Goes Here

Neighborhoods that already have a supply of middle housing types do so because it is part of the historic development pattern of the neighborhood. Moreover, staff is not clear on how much missing middle housing is considered to be too much.

The proposed dimensional regulations will limit dwellings as appropriate based on lot size and location. Any areas that meet or exceed the allowable number of dwelling units will not be eligible for more.

Zoning codes must treat similarly zoned areas the same; there cannot be special base zoning applied to a particular neighborhood.

Historic District Guidelines will still apply to properties located within a Historic Overlay.

Absentee owners are an issue that affects communities nationwide, and is not exclusive to Roanoke. The City will continue to use all available legal avenues and resources to hold absentee owners accountable.

Properties often become abandoned or derelict because they cannot be put toward a profitable use.
It is hoped that enhanced ability to generate income would lead to derelict structures being rehabilitated and vacant lots being developed with new housing.

The City has a land bank that is managed by Total Action for Progress (TAP). Tap currently has a goal to acquire 16 properties by the end of 2024. The land bank acquires properties through auctions and occasionally court action. The properties are then contracted to be restored by local developers. The land bank will work together with the City’s new Workforce Development Housing Fund to provide affordable housing options.

The City already limits short-term rentals. Short-term rentals are defined as (insert). These are not permitted in residential districts.

Another use that allows for shortened lengths of stay are homestays. Homestays are defined as “Homestay: An establishment that offers for compensation a portion of any dwelling unit for overnight stays to guests, and not meeting the definition of a bed and breakfast.” Homestays require a special exception and are subject to supplemental regulations that limit operations. There will be no changes to the requirements for homestays.

The City has utilized various methods of public outreach. The proposed text amendments are an extension of the City’s comprehensive planning process. The public outreach for City Plan 2040 was over a span of 2 years. Current outreach for the proposed amendments and implementation of City Plan 2040 has been ongoing since fall 2023. Open House public meetings along with virtual options, and various campaigns have been used to gain public interest and insight. Social media, digital flyers, civic alerts, and local media outlets have all been maximized for outreach.

Public transit is a necessary resource. Providing reliable and accessible public transit continues to be a challenge within the City. More available housing for residents and prospective residents will increase demand for housing along transit routes. Increases in ridership will support improvements to the quality and reach of public transit.  It is an accepted premise that transit needs population density to work; in general, more density makes transit more viable.

Merriam Webster defines gentrification as “the process of repairing and rebuilding homes and businesses in a deteriorating area (such as an urban neighborhood) accompanied by an influx of middle-class or affluent people and that often results in the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.” To avoid gentrification, poorer residents need to have resources available so that they can continue to afford their housing costs. The proposed amendments would allow for accessory dwelling options and living arrangements that can provide additional income to help struggling home owners.

There are additional state resources available to those that are below a certain income level, such as the Homestead Exemption Law.

The Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act set accessibility requirements. More information can be found here. The City does not have requirements for accessible units beyond those that are federally required and regulated.

Data does not support the assumption that an increase in rental units or an increase in overall dwelling units will result in higher crime rates. Generally, increases in population will result in overall higher recorded crime, but crime per capita does not increase. In other words, instances of crime per person is not shown to increase.

The changes will undoubtedly have a net positive environmental impact as new housing is directed into areas where infrastructure is already in place to support it. The new housing development that would occur under the new code would be appropriately characterized as the opposite of urban sprawl.

New development and redevelopment will need to comply with the City’s dimensional regulations as it relates to impervious surface and tree canopy.

The proposed amendments allow for redevelopment options. Conversion of existing dwellings has a lower environmental impact than new construction.

The proposed text amendments are intended to remove barriers to housing and will remove the term boarding house from the zoning ordinance. The proposed amendments will redefine household to include nonfamily living arrangements within a shared dwelling for up to 8 people. Many individuals must rely on shared living arrangements in order to maintain housing that is affordable for their income. Long-term living arrangements that meet the definition of household will assist those struggling to find housing, and are needed as part of the plan to meet the City’s projected housing needs.

Phillip Moore, Zoning Administrator, and Planning staff, in coordination with Lauren Waldron, Community Engagement Manager, and Josh Johnson, Neighborhood Services Coordinator, produced a live event, “Zoning Text Amendments Q&A Session,” on October 28th, 2021.

2021 Text Amendment Timeline:

These text amendments were the first in a series and completed the following actions of City Plan 2040:

  • Harmony with Nature | Priority One: Sustainable Land Development

    Policy 5: Reduce impervious surface through development requirements

    • Action Item: Remove minimum parking requirements
  • Interwoven Equity | Priority Three: Neighborhood Choice

    Policy 3: Enable a range of housing types in each part of the community to achieve inclusive, livable neighborhoods that prosper over time

    • Action Item: Permit accessory dwelling units in all residential zones
  • City Design | Land Use | Priority: Design for Permanence

    Policy 2: Promote development patterns that contribute to places of enduring value

  • City Design | Land Use | Priority: Purposeful Land Use

    Policy 2: Encourage active, productive uses of land and preclude unproductive uses of land

  • Text amendments will also include electric vehicle charging stations and solar energy facilities as accessory uses. These amendments will take action towards policies within the Harmony with Nature theme.

Questions or Comments?

Email: planning@roanokeva.gov

Phone: 540-853-1730

Zoning Reform for Complete Neighborhoods

Roanoke City Council has approved zoning reform for complete neighborhoods through amendments to the zoning ordinance that expand housing opportunities. Watch the video below for a summary of the amendments. Click the links to view the approved Ordinance and Report.

These text amendments are the second in a series and will continue to address priorities, policies, and actions of City Plan 2040. Priorities include:

  • Harmony with Nature | Priority One: Sustainable Land Development

  • Interwoven Equity | Priority One: Trust

  • Interwoven Equity | Priority Three: Neighborhood Choice

  • Livable Built Environment | Priority Two: Complete Neighborhoods

  • Livable Built Environment | Priority Four: Housing

  • City Design | Land Use | Priority: Design for Permanence

  • City Design | Land Use | Priority: Purposeful Land Use


The amendments remove exclusionary zoning practices, implement the comprehensive plan, and remove regulatory barriers to housing opportunities. Below are the general descriptions of the changes to the zoning code. Click here view a summary pdf of the proposed amendments.

  • Regulate dwelling as a land use

    The proposed new code would simply permit dwellings in the use tables for residential, multiple purpose, and planned unit development districts.

    The proposed code would regulate the number of dwellings permitted on a given lot in the dimensional regulations for the districts.  There would be a general increase in dwellings permitted across residential districts, with additional dwellings permitted on corner lots. The required lot area per dwelling and an absolute cap would work together to determine the number of dwellings permitted on a given lot.

  • Define Household to include Family and Nonfamily Living Arrangements

    The current code defines a household based on the familial relationships of the occupants and some forms of group living are already classified as a family by federal law. The proposed amendments redefine the term household in a way that will retain existing family living arrangements, maintain federally required living arrangements, and add nonfamily living arrangements for up to eight people sharing a dwelling.

  • Simplify various Group Care Facility types into a single Group Living land use

    The proposed text amendments would allow for permanent group housing for nine or more people in more areas and remove discriminatory limitations on housing choice. With the proposed changes, the zoning code will govern the land use taking place rather than the condition or prior status of people. The proposed code would regulate group living just like multifamily dwellings.

  • Replace Transitional Living Group Care Facility with small scale Community Housing Services and larger scale Regional Housing Services

    By defining a small-scale Community Services use classification, the proposed text amendment would remove barriers to small-scale temporary housing in multiple purpose districts and higher intensity residential districts.

  • Reclassify Dwelling Types

    The proposed code will classify new and existing dwelling types in order to manage form, location, and orientation of structures so they will be compatible in neighborhood settings.

  • Ensure the City uses remaining land efficiently

    This proposal would make changes to the dimensional regulations of each residential zoning district that would allow for the more efficient development of the limited vacant residentially zoned land within the City. Roanoke is nearly built-out, which creates issues when faced with a deficit of housing. An example of the changes that are under consideration include the reduction of lot area per dwelling unit requirements and the reduction of minimum lot sizes.

Text amendments were approved by City Council on March 18, 2024. 

Ways to get involved:

The following opportunities for involvement in the text amendment process were made available.

1. Attend an Open House Meeting

Please attend one of our upcoming community Open House meetings taking place in February. The event information is posted below.

2. Show Your Support

Participate in the Zoning Reform Campaign. Further details on how to get a free yard sign or purchase a shirt are located on this page.

3. Submit Feedback online

The online form has closed. Please check back for more virtual opportunities.

4. Participate in the Public Hearings

Public hearings will be held by both Planning Commission and City Council as part of the text amendment process. The comments heard during the public hearing will impact whether the text amendments are approved and adopted. Check back for public hearing dates and sign up for notifications via MyRoanoke.

Projected Timeline:

Text amendments were approved by City Council on March 18, 2024. 

Ways to get involved:

The following opportunities for involvement in the text amendment process were made available.

1. Attend an Open House Meeting

Please attend one of our upcoming community Open House meetings taking place in February. The event information is posted below.

2. Show Your Support

Participate in the Zoning Reform Campaign. Further details on how to get a free yard sign or purchase a shirt are located on this page.

3. Submit Feedback online

The online form has closed. Please check back for more virtual opportunities.

4. Participate in the Public Hearings

Public hearings will be held by both Planning Commission and City Council as part of the text amendment process. The comments heard during the public hearing will impact whether the text amendments are approved and adopted. Check back for public hearing dates and sign up for notifications via MyRoanoke.

Projected Timeline:

Say Yes to Housing!

Sign Campaign – Closed

The City of Roanoke is using a sign campaign to promote text amendments that expand housing opportunities. If you would like to receive a free sign, they will be available at the September and October Open House Meetings. If you are unable to make one of these meetings, additional signs will be made available in the Permit Center at 215 Church Avenue SW, Room 170 and at the Roanoke City Library Branches.

Shirt Campaign

If you are interested in getting your own Say Yes to Housing! shirt, click here to visit the PlanRoanoke campaign on Bonfire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Extrapolating on projections carried out in a city with higher development pressure, the yield should be fewer than 50 new units per year through conversions and new development. (Alexandria, VA)

Staff will monitor the number and characteristics of new units facilitated by the change in zoning regulations. Staff will report to the Planning Commission and City Council at the end of the first year to assess the effect on housing development.

Regarding overcrowding, there are no neighborhoods that are anywhere close to being overcrowded. In fact, many older neighborhoods have less population today due to fewer people per household on average.

A Citywide Housing Study performed in 2020 recognizes a need for 2,162 housing units by the year 2025. This number includes both owner-occupied and renter-occupied housing needs. Housing is a basic human right and should be available to all residents.

Scarcity of housing at all rent levels, particularly at the higher end, has led to sharp increases in rents. These increases have driven levels of cost burdening and extreme cost burdening far beyond acceptable levels. 52% of Roanoke’s households that rent are cost burdened, and 24% are extremely cost burdened. In real numbers, 11,434 households pay 30% or more of their income on gross rent and 5,386 are paying more 50% or more of their income on rent (Census 2022).

This is not a rezoning. The current zoning map and zoning districts will remain the same. City staff is proposing a number of amendments to the text within the Zoning Code.

A Citywide Housing Study confirmed that the majority (64%) of households are mismatched with their affordability range. This means that higher earning households are occupying lower cost units that would otherwise be affordable for lower earning households. By increasing a full range of housing options, individuals can start to obtain housing that is affordable for their income level.

Additionally, the proposed amendments allow for accessory dwelling options that by nature of size and location would rent for a lower rate. These accessory options also allow for additional income for homeowners that may otherwise struggle to pay their mortgages.

The City eliminated mandates for minimum parking as a way to facilitate housing development. To learn more about parking reform visit this link.

On-street parking is an accessible and shared resource for residents and visitors. Individuals that would like a designated personal parking space can create a driveway through the City’s permitting process. Many older neighborhoods with residents that heavily utilize on street parking also have access to their property via alleyways. The Zoning Code permits gravel parking off these alleyways, which is a lower cost option to create off-street parking.

Additionally, the proposed text amendments consider available street frontage when considering the number of dwelling permitted on a parcel. More units are permitted on corner lots as they have more street frontage to accommodate on-street parking.

Businesses and developers will typically consider parking needs when determining the financial viability of development or redevelopment of residential and commercial properties.

With fewer than 50 units created citywide per year, localized impact on parking is unlikely.

The quality and safety of conversions is a valid concern with or without the Zoning Reform proposal. Any new development or redevelopment of existing structures are required to go through a permitting process. As part of the permitting process, structures will be inspected for compliance with Building Code and Zoning Code. Structures are not permitted to be occupied unless compliance with these codes is met.

The City has a robust Codes Compliance Program that addresses illegal operations and inspects rental units within the rental inspection districts. Owners that convert illegally are subject to enforcement action.

The consolidation of group care facilities into a group living definition will not differentiate individuals with criminal backgrounds. There is no evidence of problems associated with housing for formerly incarcerated people so there is no compelling or objective reason to regulate it differently from other forms of housing. With the proposed changes, staff is recommending a policy that regulates the activity or use of property rather than regulating people and their backgrounds. Our current ordinance/code differentiates veterans, victims of domestic abuse, those with disabilities, formerly incarcerated individuals, and so on. While the nature of each individual’s struggles may be different, the nature of the living arrangement taking place on the property is the same. This new group living use will be permitted by special exception in RM-1 and RM-2. It will be permitted by-right in RMF.

Not at all. Community cohesion tends to be high in neighborhoods where more housing choices are available. Exclusionary zoning could hamper community cohesion because it may force people at different life stages to leave their neighborhood because there are no housing choices other than single-dwellings.

There is a bias against non-owner households that suggests they do not care about the condition of their property or the well-being of the surrounding community. Renter households can, and should, be just as concerned about their community as owners and can to contribute to community well-being at the same level. Civic groups should invite all households to participate community events and concerns.

The proposed text amendments consider the existing style of the City’s neighborhoods. Permissible dwelling units and types will be based on the specific size, location, and zoning district of each lot.

The amendments include new design controls in supplemental regulations for each dwelling type to ensure development fits into the fabric of existing neighborhoods by regulating location, size, and form.

City staff is proposing two new definitions that will address homeless housing. These definitions are community housing services and regional housing services. Community housing services will allow for small scale and hybrid models that accommodate housing for 12 individuals or less. This model will allow for dispersed and dignified housing options for homeless individuals. Regional housing services will accommodate larger scale operations and will only be permitted in the INPUD district by special exception. These proposed changes will alleviate the negative effects of larger, concentrated facilities.

Housing research provides evidence that homelessness is a housing scarcity problem rather than a collection of individual problems.  Research shows that rates of homelessness are far lower in communities that are able to create new units to expand the housing supply to keep up with demand (see Homelessness is a Housing Problem).

Rental units are needed within the City. A Citywide Housing Study performed in 2020 identified a need for 1,042 rental units by 2025.

City Council recently approved a Workforce Housing Fund. The fund was started with $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. The Workforce Housing Fund will provide loans for developers to create affordable housing units through redevelopment and new construction projects.

Additionally, there are state and federal resources and incentives available affordable housing construction.

The Citywide Housing Study recognized that low vacancy rates combined with a lack of new affordable housing is increasing competition and waiting lists for those with housing vouchers. By increasing opportunities to create housing across the City, there will be more opportunities for those with housing vouchers to find housing. Your Content Goes Here

Neighborhoods that already have a supply of middle housing types do so because it is part of the historic development pattern of the neighborhood. Moreover, staff is not clear on how much missing middle housing is considered to be too much.

The proposed dimensional regulations will limit dwellings as appropriate based on lot size and location. Any areas that meet or exceed the allowable number of dwelling units will not be eligible for more.

Zoning codes must treat similarly zoned areas the same; there cannot be special base zoning applied to a particular neighborhood.

Historic District Guidelines will still apply to properties located within a Historic Overlay.

Absentee owners are an issue that affects communities nationwide, and is not exclusive to Roanoke. The City will continue to use all available legal avenues and resources to hold absentee owners accountable.

Properties often become abandoned or derelict because they cannot be put toward a profitable use.
It is hoped that enhanced ability to generate income would lead to derelict structures being rehabilitated and vacant lots being developed with new housing.

The City has a land bank that is managed by Total Action for Progress (TAP). Tap currently has a goal to acquire 16 properties by the end of 2024. The land bank acquires properties through auctions and occasionally court action. The properties are then contracted to be restored by local developers. The land bank will work together with the City’s new Workforce Development Housing Fund to provide affordable housing options.

The City already limits short-term rentals. Short-term rentals are defined as (insert). These are not permitted in residential districts.

Another use that allows for shortened lengths of stay are homestays. Homestays are defined as “Homestay: An establishment that offers for compensation a portion of any dwelling unit for overnight stays to guests, and not meeting the definition of a bed and breakfast.” Homestays require a special exception and are subject to supplemental regulations that limit operations. There will be no changes to the requirements for homestays.

The City has utilized various methods of public outreach. The proposed text amendments are an extension of the City’s comprehensive planning process. The public outreach for City Plan 2040 was over a span of 2 years. Current outreach for the proposed amendments and implementation of City Plan 2040 has been ongoing since fall 2023. Open House public meetings along with virtual options, and various campaigns have been used to gain public interest and insight. Social media, digital flyers, civic alerts, and local media outlets have all been maximized for outreach.

Public transit is a necessary resource. Providing reliable and accessible public transit continues to be a challenge within the City. More available housing for residents and prospective residents will increase demand for housing along transit routes. Increases in ridership will support improvements to the quality and reach of public transit.  It is an accepted premise that transit needs population density to work; in general, more density makes transit more viable.

Merriam Webster defines gentrification as “the process of repairing and rebuilding homes and businesses in a deteriorating area (such as an urban neighborhood) accompanied by an influx of middle-class or affluent people and that often results in the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.” To avoid gentrification, poorer residents need to have resources available so that they can continue to afford their housing costs. The proposed amendments would allow for accessory dwelling options and living arrangements that can provide additional income to help struggling home owners.

There are additional state resources available to those that are below a certain income level, such as the Homestead Exemption Law.

The Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act set accessibility requirements. More information can be found here. The City does not have requirements for accessible units beyond those that are federally required and regulated.

Data does not support the assumption that an increase in rental units or an increase in overall dwelling units will result in higher crime rates. Generally, increases in population will result in overall higher recorded crime, but crime per capita does not increase. In other words, instances of crime per person is not shown to increase.

The changes will undoubtedly have a net positive environmental impact as new housing is directed into areas where infrastructure is already in place to support it. The new housing development that would occur under the new code would be appropriately characterized as the opposite of urban sprawl.

New development and redevelopment will need to comply with the City’s dimensional regulations as it relates to impervious surface and tree canopy.

The proposed amendments allow for redevelopment options. Conversion of existing dwellings has a lower environmental impact than new construction.

The proposed text amendments are intended to remove barriers to housing and will remove the term boarding house from the zoning ordinance. The proposed amendments will redefine household to include nonfamily living arrangements within a shared dwelling for up to 8 people. Many individuals must rely on shared living arrangements in order to maintain housing that is affordable for their income. Long-term living arrangements that meet the definition of household will assist those struggling to find housing, and are needed as part of the plan to meet the City’s projected housing needs.

Phillip Moore, Zoning Administrator, and Planning staff, in coordination with Lauren Waldron, Community Engagement Manager, and Josh Johnson, Neighborhood Services Coordinator, produced a live event, “Zoning Text Amendments Q&A Session,” on October 28th, 2021.

2021 Text Amendment Timeline:

These text amendments were the first in a series and completed the following actions of City Plan 2040:

  • Harmony with Nature | Priority One: Sustainable Land Development

    Policy 5: Reduce impervious surface through development requirements

    • Action Item: Remove minimum parking requirements
  • Interwoven Equity | Priority Three: Neighborhood Choice

    Policy 3: Enable a range of housing types in each part of the community to achieve inclusive, livable neighborhoods that prosper over time

    • Action Item: Permit accessory dwelling units in all residential zones
  • City Design | Land Use | Priority: Design for Permanence

    Policy 2: Promote development patterns that contribute to places of enduring value

  • City Design | Land Use | Priority: Purposeful Land Use

    Policy 2: Encourage active, productive uses of land and preclude unproductive uses of land

  • Text amendments will also include electric vehicle charging stations and solar energy facilities as accessory uses. These amendments will take action towards policies within the Harmony with Nature theme.

Questions or Comments?

Email: planning@roanokeva.gov

Phone: 540-853-1730

Open House Meetings

Unable to attend a meeting? Provide your feedback here.

Click here to view meeting materials.

Belmont Library Branch

Wednesday, February 7

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Location: 1101 Morningside St. SE

Melrose Library Branch

Thursday, February 8

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Location: 2502 Melrose Ave. NW Suite D

Gainsboro Branch Library

Thursday, February 15

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Location: 15 Patton Ave. NW

Virtual Meeting

Tuesday, February 13

6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Location: Zoom
PH: 1(646)-931-3860 | ID: 864 3655 5523

Main Library Branch

Wednesday, February 21

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Location: 706 S. Jefferson St.

Williamson Library Branch

Wednesday, February 28

6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Location: 3837 Williamson Road, NW

Raleigh Court Library Branch

Thursday, February 29

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Location: 2112 Grandin Road, SW

Open House Meetings

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Belmont Library Branch

Wednesday, February 7

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Location: 1101 Morningside St. SE

Melrose Library Branch

Thursday, February 8

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Location: 2502 Melrose Ave. NW Suite D

Virtual Meeting

Tuesday, February 13

6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Location: Zoom
PH: 1(646)-931-3860 | ID: 864 3655 5523

Gainsboro Branch Library

Thursday, February 15

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Location: 15 Patton Ave. NW

Main Library Branch

Wednesday, February 21

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Location: 706 S. Jefferson St.

Williamson Library Branch

Wednesday, February 28

6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Location: 3837 Williamson Road, NW

Raleigh Court Library Branch

Thursday, February 29

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Location: 2112 Grandin Road, SW

While You’re Here…

Help us shape our city’s future by participating in the projects that make Roanoke great.

Home Safe

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Heat Ready Roanoke

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Flood Resilience Planning

What is Resilience Planning? Urban resilience is the ability to withstand and recover from unexpected shocks associated with natural hazards and climate change. Building resilience to these risks can be dealt with [...]

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