Blacksburg planners proposing zoning ordinance change to help with housing in the area

Being a college town, Blacksburg has long struggled with developing housing types that attract young homebuyers

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Blacksburg is looking into adopting a new zoning ordinance to allow for smaller residential lots.

It’s all part of an effort to address the need for affordable housing in the town.

Blacksburg’s Assistant Director of Planning, Kali Casper tells 10 News the town has a mix of single-family homes and larger multi-family denser complexes but in-between that is hard to find.

“The housing types that would allow for a smaller home on a smaller lot. Perhaps a duplex, a two-family unit or a townhouse on a smaller lot,” Casper said.

As currently drafted, the Small Lot Residential (SLR) ordinance is a new set of regulations that will:

  • Only apply to properties in the Town of Blacksburg that are zoned R-4 Low-Density Residential with a minimum of 2 contiguous acres under common ownership, excluding Virginia Tech property, and excluding cemeteries and dedicated open spaces which cannot be used for development.
  • Allow primarily single-family detached homes as well as two-family dwellings (duplexes) and townhomes when served by alley access.

Casper and other town planners spoke with a room full of residents on Wednesday to discuss the proposed change.

One challenge residents and even town leaders have talked about is the student population outweighing the local population. This limits the amount of single-family homes available.

The proposed change could potentially be advantageous for developers who just want to rent out properties to students rather than sell homes to people looking for a more permanent living space.

“Eventually accrue enough to do what I want with it because it’s by-right. I think it’s a major problem in a town where a lot of people have concerns about development,” one resident said at Wednesday’s community meeting.

The idea itself many residents agree with, however, it’s the logistics that are challenging for some. Others believe the change could be good and can help attract new homeowners to the area.

“If we don’t get people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s seeing as though they can afford to live in Blacksburg...we’re going to lose the vibrancy of the town over the long hall,” one resident said.

The change is still months out if it ends up being approved. Town planners still have to present the new ordinance to the planning commission and town council to be discussed further.

About the Author

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

Recommended Videos