Release Date: October 15,2015

Hampton City Council backs new zoning, new arts district

Hampton City Council backs new zoning, usage rules for Phoebus

Contact Reporterrmurphy@dailypress.com

With a series of zoning ordinance changes, Hampton's City Council officially put the new face of Phoebus on the map Wednesday night.

The measures approved by the City Council will rezone dozens of parcels that make up the T-shaped Phoebus Business District and push new rules to push development in Phoebus toward a more vibrant, walking-friendly commercial district.

The district is made up of the Mallory Street corridor extends from Seger Street to halfway between East Mercury Boulevard and East Cummings Avenue and what staff referred to as the "historic backbone" of Mellen Street, from Libby Street to Mugler Bridge.

The zoning ordinance changes alter use and development rules in the new district, gearing development toward a pedestrian-oriented commercial district — the No. 1 action item under the city's Phoebus Master Plan, which was revisited in 2013 and guides the city's vision for the area.

Businesses will now be pushed right up to the street and won't be able to be set back, to give a more urban look to the area. The rezoning does away with manufacturing zonings at some unused industrial sites and makes it easier for developers to put up small-scale mixed-use buildings by enabling residential units above commercial properties.

It also caps the height of buildings to 50 feet, with no more than three stories, and permits the newly defined "small artisan shops," breweries and wineries by-right.

Businesses won't be able to use tall or changing signs like those used to get the attention of folks on high-speed roads, instead favoring signage aimed at low-speed traffic and pedestrians. Auto-oriented businesses such as drive-thrus and gas stations will now require special-use permits.

The ordinances also ease parking requirements for most businesses and multifamily residential units such as apartment buildings.

The council also unanimously approved the city's plan for a new arts district, which stretches from downtown to Phoebus and includes Hampton University. The designation will take effect on Jan. 1.

The plan has been under discussion for some time and includes incentives in two smaller zones — one in downtown and the other in Phoebus — to attract arts businesses by waiving several fees associated with starting a business.

The arts district designation is also an objective of the Phoebus Master Plan.

Murphy can be reached by phone at 757-247-4760.