The Virginia Zoning Atlas is Live!

Explore zoning’s impacts in Hampton Roads with this new interactive tool.

Last Friday, we revealed our findings for the first completed region of the Virginia Zoning Atlas to a room of Hampton Roads stakeholders. These findings and the first portion of the Virginia Zoning Atlas can now be viewed here!

The work in Hampton Roads began in late April and took roughly four months just to complete the zoning analysis. We read and analyzed 19 local zoning ordinances, consisting of a total of 539 districts and overlays—that’s 5,523 pages of zoning! On top of all of that, we also had to map the zoning districts.

What did we find out?

Using the National Zoning Atlas methodology, we discovered some key trends in land use policy in Hampton Roads:

  • Mixed-use development, where homes can be integrated with retail and other uses, is only permitted by-right on 3% of developable land.
  • Sixty-nine percent (69%) of land in the region is dedicated to detached single-family homes only.
  • By-right development of small-scale apartments (“Missing Middle” housing) is allowed on only 2% of land in the region. Newport News leads the region at 12%, but this is still a small fraction.
  • Larger apartment buildings (with 4 or more units) are theoretically allowed on 28% of land in the region, but extra conditional approvals are needed in nearly all cases. They’re only allowed by-right on 2% of land.
  • At 23%, Norfolk has the highest share of land where apartments with 4 or more units are by-right, but other urban areas like Newport News, Hampton, and Virginia Beach are far below that amount.
  • Many localities allow for Accessory Dwelling Units—whether by-right or through public approval—but Newport News and Chesapeake do not allow for them at all.

With rents and home prices continuing to rise in Hampton Roads, there is a clear need for more abundant and diverse housing options to support new and existing residents.

There’s tons more to explore here and we encourage you to read through the Methodology and Things to Keep in Mind sections.

The Virginia Zoning Atlas will continue to expand to other regions over the next year. While the Mercatus Center at George Mason University looks to complete the Northern Virginia region in the coming months, HousingForward Virginia will tackle both the Richmond (PlanRVA) and Petersburg (Crater PDC) regions at the start of 2024.

If you would like to see the Virginia Zoning Atlas come to your region, please reach out to us directly. And as always, your generous donations will support the development and ongoing maintenance of the Virginia Zoning Atlas as a free resource to all Virginians.

Thank you to the sponsors of our work in Hampton Roads.

Virginia Housing
Hampton Roads Community Foundation
Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Sentara Health
Wells Fargo
Atlantic Union Bank
LISC Hampton Roads
Virginia Community Capital
Virginia REALTORS®
Williamsburg Health Foundation

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