Low-Density Residential

Area Requirements
  • Located in the Primary Service Area where public services and utilities exist or are expected to be expanded to serve the sites over the next 20 years.
  • Have natural characteristics such as terrain and soils suitable for residential development.
Recommended Density
Gross density up to 1 dwelling unit per acre, depending on the character and density of surrounding development, physical attributes of the property, buffers, the number of dwelling units proposed, and the degree to which the development is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan

Gross density from 1 unit per acre up to 4 units per acre, if particular public benefits are provided. Examples of such public benefits include mixed-cost housing, affordable and workforce housing, enhanced environmental protection, or development that adheres to the principles of open space design.

Recommended Uses
  • Group 1
    • Single-family homes, duplexes, accessory units, cluster housing, recreation areas
  • Group 2 (See standard No. 4 below)
    • Schools, churches, very limited commercial, and community-oriented facilities
  • Group 3 (See standard No. 5 below, and the CCRC and timeshare policies)
    • Timeshares, retirement and care facilities and communities
Use & Character Compatibility
  • Permit new development only where such developments are compatible with the character of adjoining uses and where the impacts of such new developments can be adequately addressed. Particular attention should be given to addressing such impacts as incompatible development intensity and design, building height and scale, land uses, smoke, noise, dust, odor, vibration, light, and traffic.
  • Locate residential uses immediately adjacent to non-residential uses, major roads, railroads, airports, agricultural and forestal uses, and other conflicting uses only where the conflicts between such uses can be adequately addressed (noise, vibrations, and others). In some cases these conflicts may be addressed by sufficient screening or buffering, or other adequately protective site and building design features.
  • For Moderate Density Residential uses generally, sufficient buffering should be provided so that the higher density development is compatible with nearby development and the natural and wooded character of the County.
  • Uses in Groups 2 and 3 above should only be approved in these designations when the following standards are met:
    • Complement the residential character of the area;
    • Have traffic, noise, lighting and other impacts similar to surrounding residential uses;
    • Generally be located on collector or arterial roads at intersections;
    • Provide adequate screening and buffering to protect the character of nearby residential areas; and
    • Generally intended to support the residential community in which they are located (for Group 2 uses only).
Public Services, Utilities & Adequacy of Infrastructure
  • Timing and density of the development of particular sites will depend upon the availability and adequacy of public services, utilities, and facilities, and the maintenance of an acceptable level of service of roads and other public services.
  • The need for public services (police, fire, education, recreation, etc.) and facilities (schools, fire stations, libraries, etc.) generated by a development should be met or mitigated by that development. Means to address public service needs include proffers involving cash, construction, project phasing, uses, density, intensity, dedication of land, facility construction, and cost sharing.
Open Space, Open Space Design
Use open space design and resource protection measures for new developments by:
  • Basing design on a use of land reflecting topographic and other physical features and natural boundaries of the site rather than imposing a layout intended solely to satisfy minimum ordinance requirements;
  • Maintaining open fields or farm lands;
  • Preserving scenic vistas;
  • Protecting wildlife habitats, high-ranking Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation designated Natural Areas and significant natural heritage resources, and other sensitive areas as open space;
  • Retaining natural vegetative buffers around water bodies or wetlands;
  • Preserving historic and archaeological resources;
  • Ensuring that the common land adjoins protected open space on adjacent parcels;
  • Maintaining existing trees and vegetation and preserving the character of the development's natural setting;
  • Emphasizing the use of natural screening/buffering (using vegetation, topography, etc.) over artificial or planted screening/buffering;
  • Creating usable and functional public gathering places and recreational amenities that become focal points of the development and community (see also No. 9 below);
  • Designing effective pedestrian circulation to include trail systems (see also No. 8 and No. 9 below);
  • Protecting land designated as conservation areas on development plans by perpetual conservation easement held jointly by James City County and a qualifying second party or dedicated to a land trust; and
  • Protecting designated Community Character Corridors (CCCs).
  • Net densities should be significantly higher than gross densities and minimum open space significantly increased when feasible.
Enhanced Environmental Protection
Provide enhanced environmental protection by designing the site in accordance with the open space design standards in No. 6, plus items such as:
  • Adhering to the County’s adopted watershed master plans, and/or providing for Special Stormwater Criteria (or successor regulations);
  • Preserving soils with the highest potential for infiltration;
  • Following recommendations contained in the Better Site Design principles for James City County (or successor document(s));
  • Adhering to green building guidelines, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), EarthCraft, or successor or equivalent;
  • Providing for water conservation measures and/or the use of grey or reclaimed water for irrigation;
  • Providing for nutrient management plans; and
  • Considering siting for solar orientation.
Transportation & Mobility
Minimize the impact of development proposals on overall mobility and traffic safety, especially on major roads by:
  • Limiting access points and providing internal, on-site collector and local roads, side street access, and joint entrances, and prohibiting direct access to arterial and collector streets from individual single-family detached units and duplex units except in the case of a master planned community;
  • Providing new public collector and arterial roads in master planned communities;
  • Enhancing the efficiency of the entire street network by providing for vehicular connections to adjacent properties and developments;
  • Providing for safe, convenient, and inviting bicycle, pedestrian, and greenway connections to adjacent properties and developments, with a special focus on providing adequate access between residential and nonresidential activity centers and among residential neighborhoods;
  • Encouraging use of “complete streets” which integrate sidewalks and bikeways into the design of streets, and provide adequate associated facilities such as bike racks, such that these activities are given equal priority to motor vehicle activity;
  • Providing for ultimate future road, bicycle, and pedestrian improvement needs and new road locations through the reservation of adequate right-of-way, and by designing and constructing roads, drainage improvements, and utilities in a manner that accommodates future road, bicycle, and pedestrian improvements;
  • Requiring facilities to support bus and transit services in tourist areas, Moderate Density Residential areas, and at transit dependent uses; and
  • Encouraging adequate off-street parking areas for multi-family residential developments that minimize conflicting turning movements with on-site and off-site traffic circulation.
Sense of Place & Streetscapes
Design residential developments in a manner that fosters a sense of place and community and provides for community safety and wellness. Methods to achieve this include:
  • Creating usable and functional public gathering places and recreational amenities that become focal points of the development and community;
  • Using compact design patterns that rely on higher density and strong pedestrian and transit linkages;
  • Blending dwelling units of various types and prices into neighborhoods;
  • Including dwelling units that are accessible to those with disabilities;
  • Integrating public buildings and art into the development;
  • Providing well-defined edges of neighborhoods through natural features and architecture;
  • Using small front setbacks;
  • Designing interconnected streets;
  • Providing sidewalks with pedestrian amenities such as lighting, benches, or water fountains;
  • Designing streetscapes to avoid repetitiveness, such as:
  • Varied building orientation, setback, facade treatment, and lot sizes; and
  • Provision of open space and landscaping, such as the provision of street trees;
  • Locating garages at the rear or side of dwellings, or as a secondary alternative, set back from the front building façade, in order to de-emphasize the prominence of the garage and associated driveway;
  • Using alleys and accessory buildings;
  • Using on-street parking; and
  • Adhering to the Comprehensive Plan’s standards for Community Character Areas (CCAs).
Affordable & Workforce Housing
  • Affordable and workforce housing should be provided at prices targeting households earning 30% - 120% of area median income.
  • Affordable and workforce housing should be provided in accordance with a policy or ordinance adopted by the Board of Supervisors, if applicable.
  • Where provided, affordable and workforce housing should be blended with other units of various types and prices throughout a given development.
  • Public benefit in this area is most effectively achieved through provision of units or dedication of land, and while provision of cash proffers may be recognized as a providing some public benefit, it should not be recognized as an equivalent substitute.
Underground Utilities
  • Require underground utilities in new developments, including new line extensions and major improvements to existing lines.
  • Provide screening and buffering of existing above-ground utilities and encourage their placement below ground.