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New ‘village’ development could be squeezed behind Vienna strip mall

A new little “village” neighborhood could soon be built on three-vacant parcels on Courthouse Road Southwest behind a Maple Avenue strip mall.

At a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday), the Town of Vienna Planning Commission is scheduled to review an application to build six two-family buildings with a total of 12 residential units and a clubhouse on what is today a vacant three-parcel lot.

As part of the application, developer JDA Custom Homes is requesting to use up to 60% of the lot, an increase over the 25% currently allowed.

The development at 117 and 121 Courthouse Road SW would be located behind a small shopping center that includes Lotus Garden and Pure Barre.

“The proposed development is a cottage-housing style development where a small group of generally smaller homes are centered around a common area,” the staff report said. “The architectural style of the two-family dwellings will be similar to the architecture often seen with cottage housing developments, which includes a relatively short building height, a compact footprint, and a maximum of one and a half stories.”

Each unit in the new development would also include a two-car garage on the basement level accessible on a loop around the residences. Parallel visitor parking would be located along that same service drive.

JDA Custom Homes first pitched the idea of building cottage housing on Courthouse Road in December, but at that time, the Vienna Town Council took issue with the developer bringing forward a new proposal just weeks after it had approved dividing the lot into three plots for single-family homes.

Now, JDA is seeking to get the site rezoned again for multi-family, low-density development.

The staff report notes that the subject parcels have been designated for “low-density residential” and “mixed-use” zoning in Vienna’s Future Land Use Plan. It says the proposed change would not constitute spot zoning, because it would help separate the commercial activity on Maple from the nearby single-family houses.

“The Comprehensive Plan includes language that supports the proposed development as a transition from commercial development to single-family detached residential,” the report says. “It also specifically supports village housing (also known as cottage court housing) as a desired type of housing.”

A smaller form of housing that falls in between single-family houses and apartments, cottage housing is among the changes being contemplated as part of the town’s Code Create Vienna zoning code overhaul, which is expected to be completed this winter.

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