Lower River Road Nodal Development Overlay

Overlay Boundary and Purpose
In 2003, the City Council supported the application of a “Nodal Development Overlay” zone to part of the lower River Road area.  The overlay zone is shown in gray, surrounded by the red line, in the drawing to the right.  Changes were also made to the Metro Plan to reflect that this area is designated for nodal (now called "mixed-use") development.  These changes were supported by the River Road Community Organization (though we argued for some boundary adjustments). 

The Nodal Development designation was intended to  encourage higher density and pedestrian-friendly mixed use development, and also to protect the area from incompatible development until more detailed planning for mixed use and higher density development could be completed.  The more detailed planning is now underway through the Rasor MUC planning process. 

Note: The established Nodal Development Overlay area is smaller than the Rasor MUC "Study Area" now being considered for detailed mixed-use center planning.  Because of requests from area residents, the Study Area boundary was enlarged to include commecial properties on the west side of River Road, and to extend to beyond Hilliard Ave.  However, provisions of the overlay zone do not apply to properties in the extended study area.  Boundaries of the overlay zone could be changed--perhaps to remove established low density residential areas, or to include commercial areas near Hilliard--as part of recommendations from the planning process.  Overlay requirements themselves, as listed below, might also be modified as part of the planning process.

What Does the Overlay Require?

For commercial-zoned properties within the overlay zone, the following requirements apply to any new construction, or expansion of 30% or more of the existing building square footage:

Lower River Road Nodal Overlay
  • Specific auto-oriented uses are prohibited*, including car washes, service stations, parts stores, and retail/wholesale trade uses such as machinery, boat, heavy equipment, and manufactured dwelling rental, sales and services.
  • No drive through facility is allowed unless specifically permitted in a refinement plan.
  • No new retail building can exceed 50,000 sq. feet on the ground floor, and only one such new building of 50,000 sq. feet is allowed.
  • Auto parking, driving and maneuvering areas are not permitted between the building and street.   Land between a building and the street must be landscaped or paved for use by pedestrians.  Some adjustments are allowed if specific conditions make the standards difficult to meet.
  • The minimum Floor Area Ratio** is 1.0 (1 square foot of floor area to 1 square foot of site area). 
  • A main entrance must face the street.
For residential zoned areas, the overlay requires a minimum of 8 units per acre for new development in R-1 zones (there is no minimum otherwise), and 15 units per acre in R-2 zones (from 10 without the overlay).

Building setbacks must be a maximum of 15 feet from the street, and auto parking, driving and manuevering areas are not permitted between the building and street. 

Overall, the overlay is intended to achieve an average residential density of 12 units per acre within the zone.

* Existing businesses are not affected by these requirements unless they undertake major (>30%) expansion.

Floor Area Ratio is a measure of development density. A FAR of 1.0 means that buildings must fill their entire site, or build up to achieve the same floor area they would if they filled the site.