Mathews planners table decision on new mixed-use zoning district

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jun 22, 2011 - 04:11 PM

The Mathews County Planning Commission tabled a decision on a Village Mixed Use zoning district during a meeting Tuesday night and decided to have another work session on the matter. Two Main Street property owners in the packed courtroom voiced objections to the district.

In a presentation, planning and zoning director John Shaw explained the rationale for creating such a district and addressed some of the concerns he had heard from commission members and residents.

Shaw said that creating a mixed-use district in the village is consistent not only with mixed use development that already exists in the area, but also with previous and current comprehensive plans and with the stated goals of the board of supervisors.

With mixed-use development, business and residential properties exist in proximity to each other, often with retail space on one floor and residential space above. Such uses have historically been a common-sense approach for people who owned businesses and wanted to live on the premises, said Shaw, and they are common throughout Virginia and the rest of the United States.

A mixed-use district would encourage such development as senior and workforce housing, explained Shaw. He described workforce housing as housing for teachers, government employees, and others who hold jobs in the service sector. It would not mean "affordable" or "subsidized" housing, he said, and it could mean more "feet on the street" in the downtown shopping area, with people living, working and shopping in the village. It could help increase the county’s tax base and revenue, which he said is a goal of the board of supervisors.

"It doesn’t constitute a radical departure from existing use," he said. "Senior housing would be by-right because of such services as healthcare and pharmacies that are available in the court house."