WINCHESTER — The proposed redevelopment of the former ZeroPak apple-processing and storage facility could be just the start of major changes on North Cameron Street.
City officials are currently contemplating a large-scale rezoning of 36 properties along a two-block portion of the North Cameron corridor in hopes of sparking residential and commercial development in Winchester’s North End.
The primary goal, Winchester Planning Director Timothy Youmans said, is to attract developers willing to build affordable housing in a city where low-cost dwellings have become exceedingly rare.
As proposed, Winchester’s City Council would proactively change the existing zoning designations of the 36 properties to Central Business (B-1) in anticipation of Winchester developer John Willingham seeking the same zoning designation for the ZeroPak complex at 567 N. Cameron St. According to the city’s zoning code, B-1 would allow for single-family and multi-family dwellings, townhouses, duplexes, banks, churches, beds and breakfasts, libraries, museums, retail stores, restaurants, theaters and other uses that would not lead to an excessive presence of large delivery vehicles and other things that could disturb neighborhood tranquility. The majority of Old Town Winchester has B-1 zoning.
Willingham announced in October that he and his development team hope to renovate the ZeroPak facility, an industrial building that has been vacant or underutilized since the mid-1990s, into an affordable housing complex exclusively for people who earn 80% or less of the city’s median household income. According to Old Dominion University’s 2021 State of the Commonwealth Report, that income figure is currently $76,583 annually.
As proposed by the city, the following parcels in the 400 and 500 blocks of the North Cameron corridor would be rezoned to B-1 from their current classifications of either Limited High Density Residential (HR-1) or Commercial Industrial (CM-1):
423, 425, 427, 435, 437, 439, 441, 449, 455, 459, 501, 505, 509, 513, 514, 516, 517, 517-A, 519, 520, 521, 522, 523, 525, 536, 537, and 563 N. Cameron St.
438 and 450 Kern Lane.
12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 24 and 25 E. North Ave.
The southernmost property in the targeted corridor is a brick building next to the Our Health community services campus that is currently occupied by Mohr Information Services LLC; the northernmost is a structure directly across from ZeroPak that hosts the Long Valley Traders antiques store. In between those two businesses are the Winchester Rescue Mission, a nonprofit homeless shelter for men at 435 N. Cameron St., and Guiding Light Gospel Church at 455 N. Cameron St., both of which would be included in the rezoning.
If any existing businesses or organizations are not permitted under the new B-1 zoning, Youmans said they would be grandfathered into the district and automatically allowed to continue operations.
Winchester Development Services Director Shawn Hershberger said the owners of all 36 properties have been notified about the proposed rezoning. To date, only one owner has responded with questions about the process and, after his questions were answered, he said he supported the change to B-1.
The Winchester Planning Commission is expected to issue a recommendation on the 36 proposed rezonings at its Jan. 18 business meeting. The matter will then be forwarded to the Planning and Economic Development Committee for further discussion before a final vote is cast by City Council.
Additional information about the proposed rezonings is included in the Planning Commission’s information packet for next week’s meeting, which is available at winchesterva.civicweb.net.