Post #475: Survey

A colleague tried to ruin the last of the holiday weekend for me by asking about the Town’s proposed survey on … MAC-ish, development-ish stuff.  I decided it could probably wait until Monday morning.  In hindsight, I’d say that was the right decision.

You can access a draft of the Town’s proposed survey at the link on this web page.  This survey will be discussed at tomorrow’s (12/3/2019) Wednesday’s (12/4/2019) Town Council work session.

Formally, this item is listed as:

Discuss Draft Commercial Development Survey related to Town Council Directive to draft Amendments to Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) Zone and Other Commercial Zoning Districts along with Related Amendments

Now, before we go one step further, I need to ask you a question:  Did you actually read all of that block of text above?  Honestly?  Or, by the time you got to the 4th or 5th dependent clause, did you choke and just skip to the end?

I think the agenda item itself sets a clear tone for what follows.

To cut to the chase:  Town Council has decided to ignore the cardinal rule of survey design (Post #415).  And so, whatever happens next, they own it.  This is the Town Council’s survey.

And I give up, meaning, I’m not even going to bother to talk about the details.  As with most of Town staff comportment in this area, all I can say is, if Town Council puts up with it, then, once again, they own it.

Instead, I’m going to stick to the basics, and just count stuff.  Turns out, counting to small numbers is a bit of a lost art in the modern world (e.g., see Post #465). 

The majority of people who read this website do so on phones (as opposed to tablets or computers).  The same holds true of most websites, including the SurveyMonkey website where the Town plans to host this survey.

So this next bit is aimed at you phone users.  I’ve taken the Town’s draft survey — all 2200+ words of it — converted to text, and copied it in below.   So this doesn’t include the graphics, and I haven’t bothered to format it.

What I would like you to do is to count the number of screens, in this ten-minute survey.  Not even asking you to read it.  Just asking you to scroll through, one screen at a time, and count the number of screens in this ten-minute survey.  And just to keep it real, if you don’t actually make it down to the last screen, I’m throwing your answer away and it doesn’t count.  Just as the Town will do with the actual survey.

Go:


Town of Vienna Commercial Development Survey

This survey is being administered by the Town of Vienna. The purpose of the survey is to
learn how residents, business owners, and property owners want to see the commercial
areas of town develop in the future.

Development in Vienna is governed by the zoning ordinance in the Town Code. Zoning
regulates how a property can be used, where buildings can be located on a property, and
how tall those buildings can be built. Zoning also regulates how many automobile parking
spaces must be provided, along with landscaping requirements and sign standards. The
results of the survey will inform updates to the Town’s zoning ordinance.

The survey includes 15 questions on commercial development. Also included are several
background information briefs. The survey should take approximately ten minutes to
complete. After you respond to a question or finish reading an information brief, click the
“Next” button for the next question.

Please note that you may only take the survey once. When you start the survey, it must
be completed. Your results will not be saved if you close out of your browser mid-survey.

There will be an opportunity to provide comments at the end of the survey. Only one survey
may be completed per person.

For more information contact the Planning and Zoning Department at 703-255-
6347 or by email at dpz@viennava.gov.

We appreciate your feedback!

Please complete the questions below about yourself.

What is your connection to the Town of Vienna? (Please check all that apply.)

I am a resident.
I am a business owner/tenant.
I am a commercial property owner.

What is your email address?

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What is your home or business address?

___________________________________________

What is your age?

Under 18
18-24
25-34
35-44
45-54
55-64
65 or older

Are you:

Male
Female
Prefer not to answer

What type of residence do you live in?

Single family home
Townhome
Apartment
Condominium
Other

Commercial Development Survey Questions

Info Brief: Vienna was incorporated in 1890. Many older cities and towns have a
commercial and cultural center, what is commonly referred to as a downtown. Since it
opened in 2007, the Town Green has served as the central gathering space for Town
residents and the location of many Town events. It is bordered on the north and south by
Vienna’s primary commercial corridors of Church Street and Maple Avenue. But what
portions of those streets make up Vienna’s downtown?

Vienna’s Downtown

1) Which of the following areas do you think best describes Vienna’s downtown?
(Check one)

Commercial properties on Church Street from Lawyers Road to Mill Street and
on Maple Avenue from the western Town limits to East Street (Area shown in
red in “Option A” on the following page).

Commercial properties on Church Street from Lawyers Road to Mill Street and
on Maple Avenue from Vienna Plaza/303 Maple Ave W to Beulah Road (Area
shown in red in “Option B” on the following page).

Commercial properties on Church Street from Lawyers Road to Mill Street, on
the north side of Maple Avenue from Lawyers Road to Park Street, and on the
south side of Maple Avenue from Courthouse Road to Beulah Road (Area shown
in red in “Option C” on the following page).

Commercial properties on Church Street from Lawyers Road to Mill Street and
on Maple Avenue from Lawyers Road/Courthouse Road to Park Street (Area
shown in red in “Option D” on the following page).

*Please keep in mind the area you think best describes Vienna’s
downtown as you continue the survey.

Info Brief: Buildings located in a downtown are usually taller than other buildings in town,
including single family homes. This is not the case in Vienna. Commercial buildings and
single family homes both have a height limit of 35 feet. The difference is that commercial
buildings are permitted to be three stories while single family homes cannot be more than
2½ stories.

In the 1960s and 1970s, commercial and office buildings in Vienna were permitted to be six
stories and 75 feet tall. An example of this is the White Oak Tower office building at 301
Maple Avenue W. It was built in 1979. The Town’s regulations were changed as a result of
that development and the maximum commercial building height lowered to 35 feet.

Commercial uses generally require taller ceiling heights than single family homes. More and
more, retailers and restaurants desire a minimum celling height of eleven feet on the
ground floor and nine to ten feet on the upper floors. When you add in space for structural
and mechanical elements, it is difficult for a three story commercial building to be built
within the Town’s 35 foot building height limit. The two buildings on Church Street that
appear to be three stories are actually two story buildings (111 and 144 Church Street NW).

Comparatively, new single family homes built in Vienna over the past decade have ceiling
heights ranging between nine and ten feet. Older homes typically have ceiling heights
between seven and eight feet.

Building Height

2) Based on what you think best describes Vienna’s downtown, how tall do you think
commercial buildings should be permitted in that area? (Check one)
One story
Two stories
Three stories
Four stories
Five stories
Six stories

3) Based on what you think best describes Vienna’s downtown, how tall do you think
commercial buildings should be permitted on Maple Avenue in areas not located in
downtown? (Check one. *Note: if you think all of the commercial areas along Maple
Avenue are part of Vienna’s downtown (“Option A” in question 1.), please check N/A)
One story
Two stories
Three stories
Four stories
Five stories
Six stories
N/A

Info Brief: Vienna’s Comprehensive Plan lays out the Town’s vision for how Vienna should
grow and develop over the next ten to twenty years. It provides guidance regarding a wide
range of issues relating to land use, transportation, parks and recreation, community
facilities, community character, economic development, and the environment. The Plan
includes goals, objectives, implementation strategies, and indicators for each of those
elements.

The Code of Virginia requires every community to adopt a comprehensive plan for the
territory within its jurisdiction and to review such plan for amendments at least once every
five years. The Town’s current Comprehensive Plan was adopted by Town Council on May
23, 2016.

Comprehensive Plan goal related to the following question on neighborhood
compatibility: To ensure that Vienna retains its unique single-family residential character
and quality of life.

Neighborhood Compatibility

4) Which of the following statements do you most strongly agree with? (Check one)

It is appropriate for commercial buildings immediately adjacent to single family
homes and townhomes to be the same height as those residences.

It is appropriate for commercial buildings immediately adjacent to single family
homes and townhomes to be one story taller than those residences.

It is appropriate for commercial buildings immediately adjacent, to single family
homes and townhomes to be two stories taller than those residences.

It is appropriate for commercial buildings immediately adjacent, to single family
homes and townhomes to be three stories taller than those residences.

It is appropriate for commercial buildings immediately adjacent, to single family
homes and townhomes to be four stories taller than those residences.

It is appropriate for commercial buildings immediately adjacent, to single family
homes and townhomes to be five stories taller than those residences.

Info Brief – Comprehensive Plan goals related to the following questions on desired
businesses: To encourage a vibrant Central Business District; to diversify the economy in
the Central Business District; to build an equitable community; and to promote tourism.

Desired Businesses

5) Based on what you think best describes Vienna’s downtown, what types of businesses
would you like to see, or see more of, in that area? (Check up to five types)
Assisted living and senior living facilities
Banks
Brewpubs, distilleries and wine bars
Coffee shops and cafés
Convenience stores
Entertainment (bowling alley, movie theater, performance venue)
Fitness centers and gyms
Gas stations
Grocery and gourmet food stores
Lodging (bed and breakfast, boutique hotel, extended stay hotel, etc.)
Office/professional services
Personal services (salon, spa, laundry/cleaning service)
Restaurants
Restaurants with a drive-thru
Retail stores
Other

6) Based on what you think best describes Vienna’s downtown, what types of businesses
would you like to see, or see more of, on Maple Avenue in areas not located in
downtown? (Check up to five types. *Note: if you think all of the commercial areas
along Maple Avenue are part of Vienna’s downtown (“Option A” in question 1.), please
check N/A)

Assisted living and senior living facilities
Banks
Brewpubs, distilleries and wine bars
Coffee shops and cafés
Convenience stores
Entertainment (bowling alley, movie theater, performance venue)
Fitness centers and gyms
Gas stations
Grocery and gourmet food stores
Lodging (bed and breakfast, boutique hotel, extended stay hotel, etc.)
Office/professional services
Personal services (salon, spa, laundry/cleaning service)
Restaurants
Restaurants with a drive-thru
Retail stores
Other
N/A

Info Brief – Comprehensive Plan goals related to the following questions on housing: To
encourage housing for residents of all age groups. Specific to Maple Avenue, by providing
housing options, such as apartments, condominiums, and townhomes.

The Comprehensive Plan also identifies the opportunity to provide a new type of housing
called village housing in transitional areas between commercial areas and residential areas
of town. Village housing is also referred to as cottage housing. Cottage houses are 1,500
square feet in area or smaller. Cottage housing developments include shared, common,
outdoor open space.

Cottage Housing Example

Related image
Housing

7) Based on what you think best describes Vienna’s downtown, what type of housing do
you think is appropriate in that area? (You may check more than one type)
Multifamily buildings, i.e., apartment and condominium buildings
Multifamily in mixed use buildings with apartments and condominiums located
on the floors above the ground floor commercial use(s)
Townhomes
Village or cottage housing
Housing should not be allowed in downtown Vienna

8) Based on what you think best describes Vienna’s downtown, what type of housing do
you think is appropriate on Maple Avenue in areas not located in downtown? (You may

check more than one type. *Note: if you think all of the commercial areas along Maple
Avenue are part of Vienna’s downtown, (“Option A” in question 1.), please check N/A)
Multifamily buildings, i.e., apartment and condominium buildings
Multifamily in mixed use buildings with apartments and condominiums located
on the floors above the ground floor commercial use(s)
Townhomes
Village or cottage housing
Housing should not be allowed on Maple Avenue in areas not located in
downtown Vienna
N/A

9) Do you think village or cottage housing should be permitted as a transition between
commercial businesses and residential neighborhoods? (Check one)
Yes
No
Not sure

Info Brief – Comprehensive Plan goals related to the following questions on streetscape: To
create a more walkable and bikeable Vienna; to encourage people to walk and bicycle more
in Vienna; and to create an attractive, walkable community. Specific to Maple Avenue, the
Town desires for redevelopment that provides new streetscape improvements and increased
public amenities.

Streetscape

10) Please rank in order of importance the streetscape elements you think the Town should
require in commercial developments? (Rank 1 through 5 with 1 being most important
and 5 being least important)

___ Wider sidewalks for pedestrians

___ Wider sidewalks for pedestrians and bicyclists

___ Outdoor seating (benches, chairs)

___ Landscaped areas

___ Underground utilities

11) Please indicate where you think automobile parking should be located for commercial
developments? (Check one)
Behind the building
In front of the building
In structured parking, behind the commercial use and/or on the upper floors
In structured parking, underground/under the building
No preference

Info Brief: Gathering space refers to outdoor areas that are publicly-accessible and located
on the ground level. Gathering spaces include sidewalk cafes, plazas with green space and
seating areas, covered seating areas, and landscaped areas with pedestrian pathways.

Gathering Space

12) Please rank in order of importance the gathering space features you think the Town
should require in commercial developments? (Rank 1 through 5 with 1 being most
important and 5 being least important)

___ Sidewalk café

___ Plaza with green space

___ Plaza with seating areas

___ Covered seating areas

___ Landscaped area with pedestrian pathways

13) Do you think the Town should offer incentives for commercial developments that
provide additional gathering spaces beyond what is required?
Yes
No
Not sure

Info Brief – Comprehensive Plan goals related to the following questions: To protect and
preserve the natural environment; to increase the use of sustainable practices by residents,
the business community, and the Town; and to encourage LEED building practices for
construction of new facilities.

Environmental Features

14) Please rank in order of importance the environmental features you think the Town
should require in commercial developments? (Rank 1 through 5 with 1 being most
important and 5 being least important)

___ Tree plantings and use of native landscaping

___ Solar panels and other energy efficiencies

___ Rain gardens and permeable or pervious pavement

___ Green building standards, such as LEED or Energy Star

___ Vegetated roof system

15) Do you think the Town should offer incentives for commercial developments that
provide additional environmental features beyond what is required?
Yes
No
Not sure

Please feel free to provide additional comments on commercial development below.

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