Title page for ETD etd-04252003-140728

Type of Document Major Paper
Author Zirkle, Mary A
Author's Email Address mzirkle@vt.edu
URN etd-04252003-140728
Title Build-Out Analysis as a Planning Tool With a Demonstration for Roanoke County, Virginia
Degree Master of Science
Department Urban Affairs and Planning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Randolph, John Committee Chair
Prisley, Stephen P. Committee Member
Scheid, Janet Committee Member
Zahm, Diane L. Committee Member
  • Roanoke County
  • Planning
  • Build-Out Analysis
  • Geographic Information Systems
Date of Defense 2003-04-18
Availability unrestricted
The objectives of this paper are to explain what build-out analysis is and how localities can integrate it into their planning regimen. In addition, I will demonstrate a build-out analysis tailored to Roanoke County, Virginia, in order to calculate the fiscal impact of its current zoning ordinance at complete build-out. I conclude with recommendations for Roanoke County, other uses of build-out analysis and conclusions about this tool.

The purpose of a build-out analysis is to show a locality what land is available for development, how much development can occur and at what densities, and what consequences may result when complete build-out of available land occurs according to the zoning ordinance. A build-out analysis can reflect changes in the zoning ordinance to illustrate the effects of those changes on future resources. A build-out analysis can also help quantify the costs of growth.

Original build-out analyses were done by hand and relied on mathematical formulas. Now, build-out analyses are becoming more popular, feasible and dynamic with advances in computers and developments in geographic information system (GIS) software. While mathematical formulas still produce the quantitative measures of build out, GIS can provide visual representation and spatial specificity, as well as some of the quantitative measures.

The first part of this paper describes the process of conducting a build-out analysis. The second part uses a modified process to illustrate how to tailor build-out analysis to a real location. This location is Roanoke County, which is experiencing growth demands in its low- to medium-density residential zoning districts.

It appears from my analysis that Roanoke County can withstand another century of growth in these zoning districts before it reaches build-out, if the smallest lot sizes are applied. If larger lots are used, build-out will occur faster. From my analysis, it appears that small-lot zoning would cost the County more initially but may ultimately preserve more of the things that citizens value, as described in the goals of the 1998 Community Plan. Measures need to be taken at present to prepare for the growth allowed by the County’s 1992 Zoning Ordinance.

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