Vienna could require bicycle parking for multifamily housing with zoning code update

A bicycle rack near Waters Field in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Aware of a growing need for more variety in its housing options, the Town of Vienna is taking a harder look at its standards for multifamily residential development.

Changes currently under consideration include the introduction of minimum parking requirements for bicycles, according to draft regulations for apartments, townhouses, and other residences allowed in a new residential multi-unit (RMU) zone.

The Vienna Town Council will discuss the draft at a conference session tonight (Monday).

As part of a general overhaul of the zoning code, the town’s first in over 50 years, staff have proposed requiring multi-unit residential developments to provide three bicycle racks or six spaces for every 2.5 dwelling units to serve residents. Three racks will also be needed for every 50 units to accommodate visitors.

The suggested bicycle parking standards are based on requirements used by Falls Church City, according to the draft.

The revised code will also establish standards for parking lot landscaping and screening, outdoor lighting standards and loading areas, though loading spaces won’t be required for townhouses, duplexes and cottage courts.

For other multifamily developments, the draft would require one loading space per 50 units, with each space measuring at least 25 feet long and 15 feet wide. Right now, Vienna doesn’t dictate a specific number of spaces for different land uses, and the size varies based on the size of the building.

The need for updated multifamily residential regulations became clear last year during discussions about the proposed conversion of the Vienna Courts offices into duplex condominiums. The project’s eventual approval in December came after weeks of the developers, the town council and residents haggling over parking and open space to reduce its lot coverage.

Vienna’s zoning code overhaul — known as Code Create Vienna — has been underway since July 2020. Amendments giving residents more flexibility for outdoor decks were approved last June, but public hearings on the overall draft code aren’t anticipated until this fall.