Accessory Apartments


Accessory Apartments/Zoning Ordinance Amendment #32

Town Council has directed that an amendment to the town’s Zoning Ordinance be prepared to consider allowing accessory apartments with single family homes. The accessory apartment is also referred to as a granny flat, in-law apartment, basement apartment, garage apartment or carriage house.  Accessory apartments have not been allowed in town since the 1970s. There are existing apartments in town that were created when the use was allowed and those are referred to as lawful non-conforming accessory apartments and can continue to be rented. This proposed program would not apply to the existing non-conforming apartments. The new program would apply to new accessory apartments.

The reason that the regulations changed in the 1970s included concerns about over occupancy, parking problems and the impact on neighborhood character. Many communities around the country are now reconsidering and allowing accessory apartments as a way to make homes more affordable in Blacksburg for both the owner and the renter, give more options for aging-in-place, and provide variety in housing types in the community. Town staff is working on a proposed program to allow accessory apartments with certain requirements. One of the strongest components of the program being considered is the requirement for owner residency. Typically, having the owner live on-site addresses potential lifestyle conflicts and helps integrate the unit as part of the neighborhood fabric. The use is proposed to be limited to single family zoning districts. There are other standards proposed in the new program that relate to owner residency, size of apartment, number of occupants, parking, and safety requirements. The regulation also addresses the relationship to the underlying zoning district standards for height, lot coverage, setbacks and floor area ratio.

To learn more about the program being proposed, please review the documents below. The proposed Accessory Apartment Program is an amendment to the town Zoning Ordinance (#32) and as such will be going through the public hearing process. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to Town Council. After the Planning Commission makes its recommendation, staff will schedule a public hearing for Town Council. Town Council will take final action. Based on the meeting schedule below we anticipate the Town Council public hearing will be held in March.

You can share your input on the concept of allowing accessory apartments and the specific standards proposed  through the public hearings and also by attending the upcoming public input meeting. You can also send any email comments to or send written correspondence to the Planning and Building Department, 400 S. Main St, Blacksburg, Virginia 24060. To call, please contact us at 540-961-1126. New information on this project  and updates on the proposed amendment regulations or meetings will be posted to this website.



Ordinance 1816 (273kb pdf)

Accessory Apartments Staff Report and Staff Memos (603kb pdf)

Accessory Apartments Public Input (619kb pdf)

Accessory Apartments Planning Commission memo (30kb pdf)

Accessory Apartments cover memo (42kb pdf)

Accessory Apartments Comparison Chart (127kb pdf)

3-3-17 Planning Commission update cover memo (89kb pdf)

Ordinance 1816 2-7-17 (474kb pdf)

Planning Commission cover memo 2-7-17 (78.5kb pdf)

Memo from Elisabeth Willis (Staff) 2-2-17 (38.5kb pdf)

Public input meeting sign in sheet 1-25-17 (54.7kb pdf)

Public input meeting summary notes 1-25-17 (42.3kb pdf)

Accessory Apartment staff memo dated  1-12-17 (255kb pdf)

Accessory Apartment draft text of regulations dated  1-12-17 (418kb pdf)

Accessory Apartment summary recommendations from Zoning Review Committee (101kb pdf)

Accessory Apartment summary recommendations from Housing and Community Development Advisory Board (82kb pdf)

Accessory Apartment comparison chart of standard from other communities (131kb pdf)

Accessory Apartment notes from previous input meetings on topic (prior to drafting of the program regulations) (262kb pdf)



Public Input Meeting: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m. at the Blacksburg Motor Company, 400 S. Main St.

Planning Commission Public Hearing: Tuesday, Feb. 7, 7:30 p.m. in the Roger E. Hedgepeth Chambers, Second Floor, Blacksburg Municipal Building, 300 S. Main St. - Planning Commission continued the public hearing on March 7.

Planning Commission work session (no public input taken): Tuesday, Feb. 21, 5 p.m. at the Blacksburg Motor Company, 400 S. Main St.

Planning Commission Public Hearing: Tuesday, March 7, 7:30 p.m. in the Roger E. Hedgepeth Chambers, Second Floor, Blacksburg Municipal Building, 300 S. Main St.

Town Council Public Hearing: Tuesday, April 11, 7:30 p.m. in the Roger E. Hedgepeth Chambers, Second Floor, Blacksburg Municipal Building, 300 S. Main St.

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