A proposal to add a "village mixed use" district to the zoning ordinance for downtown Mathews was the topic of much of the discussion during the Mathews Planning Commission’s meeting on April 19.
Planning and zoning director John Shaw gave some background for his suggested changes, explaining that there might be uses for property that would be appropriate to the Court House area, which is zoned B-2, but that wouldn’t necessarily apply to parcels zoned B-2 in such areas as Port Haywood, Hudgins or Cobbs Creek.
Shaw gave as examples forestry and agriculture, which are permitted uses in B-2 districts that don’t apply to downtown parcels. In addition, he said, the residential density that might be appropriate for downtown might not be suitable for other areas of the county, and he pointed out that Mathews Court House is the only area served by public sewer.
Shaw asked commissioners to consider such questions as whether they would prefer to create a new district or simply make changes to the B-2 district; whether a map delineating the proposed district’s boundaries needs to be expanded or reduced; and whether the uses, residential density, lot coverage, and setbacks he’s suggesting are appropriate and consistent with the comprehensive plan.
Currently, residential density in downtown Mathews for apartments, townhouses, and flexible residential/business structures is six units per acre, while the density for two-family/duplex units is four units per acre. Under Shaw’s proposal, the density would be eight dwelling units per acre for all single-family attached and multi-family dwellings.
The current lot coverage allowed is 100 percent for businesses or residential/business uses and 40 percent for apartments or townhouses. Shaw suggests that lot coverage for all uses be set at 80 percent, with 100 percent allowable under a conditional use permit.
Shaw also proposes less stringent requirements for front, side and rear yard setbacks, but suggests retaining the current height restriction of 50 feet for main buildings and reducing the allowable height to 20 feet for accessory buildings.