Chesapeake votes to allow residential development in South Norfolk business district

CHESAPEAKE — City leaders are taking steps to revitalize and improve South Norfolk with an eye toward residential growth.

Chesapeake City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an ordinance that will now allow residential development in South Norfolk’s business overlay district, an area encompassing a swath of properties primarily straddling parts of Poindexter and Liberty streets and Bainbridge Boulevard. The vote supports the city’s goal of growing and revitalizing the area, identified in its current 2035 comprehensive plan.

City staff wrote in a memo that one intent with the overlay district is to “provide development flexibility that allows and encourages the improvement and upgrading of the area.”

“Staff finds that the proposed changes are a step forward in order to accomplish this goal,” the memo stated.

Prior to the vote, the only residential development allowed in the business overlay was multi-family residential as part of a mixed-use development. And while there are some single-family homes along Perry Street and Bainbridge Boulevard, they predate the adoption of the business overlay district.

Brad Moore, president of the South Norfolk Civic League, spoke in support at both the City Council meeting and the Planning Commission meeting in December, where it was approved with a 7-1 vote. Moore said city staff also attended a meeting with civic league members, whom he said also supported the ordinance without any serious objections.

“I’ve heard that my section of the city is the heart of Chesapeake. I’ve heard that my section of the city is a special place. And I sort of see this modification of the business overlay district as becoming a more welcoming borough to developers of all stripes,” Moore said. “As long as we can get rid of vacant lots, we’re in good shape, especially along that corridor.”

Tuesday’s vote will allow residential development proposals to be considered conditional uses in the district, meaning they can be analyzed and approved by city leaders on a case-by-case basis. Since it’s in a business overlay district, development projects must use high quality building designs with a neutral color palette to keep new and renovated buildings similar.

In particular, the types of residential development now allowed include single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses and row homes, apartments and condos and multi-family residential that’s not part of a mixed-use development. “Home occupation” was also added as an eligible use since there were previously no single-family residential uses permitted, according to city staff. Mixed use development remains allowed by-right in the zoning ordinance.

The ordinance change affects properties located along the south side of Liberty Street between 16th Street and the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks; those located on both sides of Poindexter Street from the intersection of Poindexter and Liberty Streets to the intersection of Poindexter and Bainbridge Boulevard; and those located on both sides of Bainbridge Boulevard from the intersection of Bainbridge Boulevard with Poindexter Street to the southwest corner of Lakeside Park.

Natalie Anderson, 757-732-1133, natalie.anderson@virginiamedia.com