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Roanoke planners looking at zoning changes to address housing in the city

Roanoke planners are hoping a change to zoning regulations will help alleviate some of the housing crisis in the city.

Planners are going around the local library branches throughout February to explain what the changes mean.

Wednesday was their first stop at the Belmont Branch Library.

The city’s zoning administrator, Phillip Moore, said even with the changes the housing doesn’t come on its own.

“It’s going to be up to the private sector, private developers to come in and actually develop the housing,” Moore said.

The neighborhood zoning reforms aim to remove barriers that stand in the way of producing more housing. Zoning can also intersect with issues, including quality of life, economy and inequality.

In a city lacking at least 4,000 housing units, the city is trying to create an environment that encourages private sector builders to respond to the need.

“Roanoke is nearly built out, which creates issues when faced with our housing deficit,” Moore said. “Of the very little amount of vacant land we have left, we need to use it as effectively as we can.”

Changes will allow for smaller lots and more dwellings on properties, enabling more types of housing than just single-family residences or large apartment blocks, Moore said. Think cottages and courtyard apartments.

However, with the changes, there could be some issues with parking on already crowded streets. Duane Howard, who lives in Southeast Roanoke, shared the concern.

“You might bring some more affordable housing for two or three people but suppose they bring two or three more cars. Where are they going to park,” Howard said.

The reforms currently going through the approval process are part of a series of zoning changes taking place since the adoption of a new long-term city plan in 2020.

Here’s a schedule of the upcoming open houses at local libraries:

  • Feb. 8 at Melrose Library from 4 – 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 15 at Gainsboro Library from 4 – 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 21 at Main Library from 4 – 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 28 at Williamson Library from 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Feb. 29 at Raleigh Court Library from 4 – 6 p.m.

Source: WSLS News 10

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