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Zoning Ordinance Amendments
Zoning Administration Division Open House
July 26, 2017
• The Work Program is adopted each year by the Board of 
Supervisors and outlines the requested changes to the Zoning 
What is zMOD?
• Re‐formatting/restructuring the Zoning Ordinance 
• Processing of Zoning Ordinance Amendments of county‐
Format and Structure of the Zoning Ordinance
• The Zoning Ordinance will be 40 years old next year
• The current structure...
Initial zMOD Zoning Ordinance Amendment 
Begin the modernization of the Ordinance by addressing the following...
Provide for outreach in an efficient and effective manner while moving 
forward on amendments in a ...
What are Minor Modifications?
• Limited changes that can be made to approved zonings by 
the Zoning Administrator upon a d...
Minor Modifications 
Adds more administrative flexibility in four areas:
1. Exempts solar collectors and other innovativ...
Minor Variations to approved Rezonings
(not Special Exceptions and Special Permits)
Minor Modifications 
Adds flexibilit...
Why is this amendment being proposed?
• The United States Supreme Court decided Reed v. Town of 
Gilbert (Arizona...
Impact on Local Sign Regulations
The County’s sign ordinance needs to be amended to respond to the Gilbert decisi...
Proposed Amendment – What It Is
• Focused on creating a content‐neutral 
sign ordinance keeping as much of the 
Use Categories – Restaurants
Why is this amendment being proposed?
• Restaurant types have evolved and many, such as th...
The current definitions are 
based on detailed operational 
• Eating Establishment
(individual menus, ...
 The zoning districts would be updated with the new definitions. 
Restaurants are permitted by right or by Special Exc...
Min. Required Rear Yard Coverage
• Applicable only to single-family detached residential lots;
• Currently limited to 3...
Min. Required Rear Yard Coverage
Where is the Minimum Required Rear Yard?
Interior Lot Corner Lot
The area of the rear ...
Min. Required Rear Yard Coverage
Amendment as Proposed:
Distinguish between lots in conventional (“R”) Zoning
Min. Required Rear Yard Coverage
Agricultural Districts and Uses
•Staff is reviewing the zoning districts that 
allow agricultural uses to determine if ...
Community Gardens/Urban Agriculture
• Community gardens as a 
principal use
• New trends (container and 
vertical gardenin...
Sales/distribution of Garden/Farm 
• wayside stands, farm and farmers’ markets, open air produce 
Agritourism Uses
Agricultural Districts and Uses
Continuing Care Communities
• This change would create a zoning district that better 
accommodates developments that of...
Continuing Care Communities
• The amendment will also add Adult Day Health Care to the 
Zoning Ordinance in accordance ...
Short‐Term Rental (STR)
What is a Short-Term Rental?
• Transient occupancy of a dwelling unit for a period of less than...
Short‐Term Rental (STR)
Why is this amendment being proposed?
• 2015‐2016: Initial review by the General Assembly  
• P...
Current Zoning Ordinance Provisions
The Zoning Ordinance does not currently allow 
transient occupancy except for a Bed...
Short‐Term Rental (STR)
• Survey
• To solicit community input on specific features of STR
• Survey active from June 19 ...
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Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance Amendments


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This offers highlights of proposed zoning changes that Fairfax County is considering. This presentation was delivered at a July 26, 2017, open house. For more information, visit /

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Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance Amendments

  1. 1. Zoning Ordinance Amendments HOT TOPICS Zoning Administration Division Open House July 26, 2017
  2. 2. • The Work Program is adopted each year by the Board of  Supervisors and outlines the requested changes to the Zoning  Ordinance. • This year, the Work Program includes a parallel effort – zMOD. • Amendment process includes staff research and analysis, and  public outreach to stakeholders. • Amendments are adopted after being authorized by the Board  of Supervisors, and public hearings are held before the Planning  Commission and Board. 2 Zoning Ordinance Amendments Work Program & zMOD
  3. 3. What is zMOD? • Re‐formatting/restructuring the Zoning Ordinance  • Processing of Zoning Ordinance Amendments of county‐ wide priority  • Implementing process improvements related the  processing of Zoning Ordinance Amendments and other  zoning‐related activities • Integrating with, but not replacing, Zoning Ordinance  Amendment Work Program 3 zMOD
  4. 4. Format and Structure of the Zoning Ordinance • The Zoning Ordinance will be 40 years old next year • The current structure creates redundancies, is not easily  adapted to electronic formats, and is not easily used or  understood by those who do not use it on a regular basis.  • The reformatting is intended to: Create a streamlined, user‐friendly document Use more charts, tables, hyperlinks, etc.  Be usable on multiple platforms • Use of consultant services. Selection process underway 4 zMOD
  5. 5. Initial zMOD Zoning Ordinance Amendment  Priorities 5 Begin the modernization of the Ordinance by addressing the following  amendments: • Minor modification provisions • Signs – amend Ordinance to respond to Supreme Court decision on  content‐neutrality  • Uses – combine uses into more generic categories to accommodate  emerging trends and reduce the need for use determinations. Process  the restaurants amendment as the first priority • PDH Districts – look at the Districts in their entirety; focus on issues that  have become problematic zMOD
  6. 6. Outreach/Communication Provide for outreach in an efficient and effective manner while moving  forward on amendments in a timely manner. Opportunities include: 1. A work group of citizens from each Magisterial District – (Established) 2. Monthly meeting of Board Land Use Aides  (Established) 3. Regular Briefings and updates to the Planning Commission Land Use  Committee (Ongoing) 4. Quarterly Update/Open House sessions at the Government Center – July  26, 2017 5. Setting up community–wide meetings on as needed basis 6. Increasing web‐based opportunities for updates and input 6 zMOD and Work Program
  7. 7. What are Minor Modifications? • Limited changes that can be made to approved zonings by  the Zoning Administrator upon a determination of  substantial conformance  • Designed to address final engineering and design issues, or  other changes that occur over time 7 Minor Modifications 
  8. 8. 8 Minor Modifications  Adds more administrative flexibility in four areas: 1. Exempts solar collectors and other innovative energy technology  structures less than 10 feet in height from building height and roof  top coverage limitations 2. Excludes from the definition of gross floor area and the calculation  of FAR any incidental increase in interior space created by the  replacement of a façade material on an existing building 3. Permits staff to change color of signs and typeface 4. Increases the allowable size for minor building additions and  simplifies the provisions
  9. 9. Minor Variations to approved Rezonings (not Special Exceptions and Special Permits) 9 Minor Modifications  Adds flexibility and streamlines the amendment process by creating a  new avenue for the Board to act on five types of requests, with public  notice, as an Action Item at a Board meeting, to permit:  1. The addition or modification of a use 2. A minor increase in building height 3. Modification to proffered yard dimensions and setbacks 4. Modification or deletion of community/HOA active recreation 5. Modification of proffer commitments to technologies or services  that are underutilized or have become ineffective
  10. 10. 10 Signs Why is this amendment being proposed? • The United States Supreme Court decided Reed v. Town of  Gilbert (Arizona) June 18, 2015.  • The Court decided that the Gilbert sign regulations were  “content‐based” and violated the First Amendment. • The ruling was that the regulations applied to particular speech  because of the topics discussed on the sign itself.   • Any local ordinance containing content‐based restrictions will  probably fail required legal tests, and will likely be invalidated.
  11. 11. 11 Signs Impact on Local Sign Regulations The County’s sign ordinance needs to be amended to respond to the Gilbert decision. For  example, current text for office park signs: “One (1) freestanding building identification sign may be permitted for each detached building which houses a principal use within an office park. Such sign(s) shall be limited to identifying the name of the building and/or the individual enterprises located therein, the address, trademark or identifying symbol or any combination thereof. No such sign shall exceed twenty (20) square feet in area or eight (8) feet in height or be located closer than ten (10) feet to any lot line.” Rewritten in content‐neutral language: “One (1) freestanding sign, up to twenty (20) square feet in area and eight (8) feet in height, may be permitted for each detached building which houses a principal use within an office park. Such sign cannot be located closer than ten (10) feet to any lot line.”
  12. 12. 12 Signs Proposed Amendment – What It Is • Focused on creating a content‐neutral  sign ordinance keeping as much of the  existing provisions intact.  • Format – more user friendly   • Substantive changes to:  Prohibited and exempt sign types,  including temporary signage  digital sign provisions  wall sign amounts to align  commercial and industrial uses Proposed Amendment – What It Is Not • Does not address most policy issues  regarding signs, such as types and sizes  permitted in a particular district. This  will be considered in a second  amendment to be drafted at a later date  with more input from stakeholder  groups. • Only addresses signs on private property  and not within a public right‐of‐way,  which is consistent with the current  provisions found in Article 12. 
  13. 13. 13 Use Categories – Restaurants Why is this amendment being proposed? • Restaurant types have evolved and many, such as the popular  fast‐casual establishments, blur the previous distinctions.  Future changes in operational practices are likely to continue  this trend. • The definitions need to be revised to eliminate outdated  operational characteristics, and create more generic  definitions to accommodate current and future trends • The use limitations should be clarified and simplified to  remove unnecessary impediments and improve permitting
  14. 14. 14 The current definitions are  based on detailed operational  characteristics: • Eating Establishment (individual menus, served at table by  employee, non‐disposable plates,  etc.) • Fast Food Restaurant (counter service, tables cleared by  customers, min. 45% of GFA for  kitchen, etc.) • Quick‐service Food Store The proposed definitions  would classify restaurants  as: • Restaurant • Restaurant with Drive‐ through, or • Carryout Restaurant Use Categories – Restaurants
  15. 15. 15  The zoning districts would be updated with the new definitions.  Restaurants are permitted by right or by Special Exception in office,  retail, planned and industrial districts.  The parking requirements would also be updated with the new  definitions. Staff is reviewing whether the parking ratios can be  revised to be based on GFA, instead of seats and employees. Use Categories – Restaurants
  16. 16. 16 Min. Required Rear Yard Coverage • Applicable only to single-family detached residential lots; • Currently limited to 30% maximum coverage; • Increasingly common to have more hardscaping and other outdoor amenities in rear yards, including patios, pool decking, and hardscape features; • Amendment proposed to provide residents increased flexibility and a means of requesting additional coverage; • Problematic for Planned Development (“P District”) lots with very small rear yards as well as corner lots.
  17. 17. 17 Min. Required Rear Yard Coverage Where is the Minimum Required Rear Yard? Interior Lot Corner Lot The area of the rear yard extending across the full width of the lot that is located between the rear lot line and the minimum required setback line. The coverage limitation does NOT apply to the remainder of the rear yard.
  18. 18. 18 Min. Required Rear Yard Coverage Amendment as Proposed: Distinguish between lots in conventional (“R”) Zoning Districts vs. Planned Development (“P”) Districts; Increase the maximum percentage of coverage allowed from 30% to 40% (or as high as 50%) for R districts, and from 30% to 50% (or as high as 60%) for P districts; while exempting P District Lots below 5,000 square feet; Create a Special Permit to request additional coverage to as high as 60% for R Districts or 75% for P Districts; Clarify what is counted as coverage and how, using graphics.
  19. 19. 19 Min. Required Rear Yard Coverage
  20. 20. 20 Agricultural Districts and Uses •Staff is reviewing the zoning districts that  allow agricultural uses to determine if updates  are needed to address and accommodate  agricultural activities today and anticipated in  the future.  •These topics include…
  21. 21. Community Gardens/Urban Agriculture • Community gardens as a  principal use • New trends (container and  vertical gardening, etc.) 21 Agricultural Districts and Uses
  22. 22. Sales/distribution of Garden/Farm  Products • wayside stands, farm and farmers’ markets, open air produce  stands 22 Agricultural Districts and Uses
  23. 23. Agritourism Uses 23 Agricultural Districts and Uses
  24. 24. 24 Continuing Care Communities • This change would create a zoning district that better  accommodates developments that offer a wide spectrum of  care/accommodations, such as blending independent living,  assisted living, and other medical care uses in the same building  or development.  
  25. 25. 25 Continuing Care Communities • The amendment will also add Adult Day Health Care to the  Zoning Ordinance in accordance with long‐standing use  determination that adult care is permitted wherever child  care is permitted. • Timing:  Staff is meeting with continuing care community  developers to understand the nature of these integrated  communities and hopes to prepare a strawman for public  consideration in the last quarter of 2017. 
  26. 26. 26 Short‐Term Rental (STR) What is a Short-Term Rental? • Transient occupancy of a dwelling unit for a period of less than 30  consecutive days • Often advertised & processed through online platforms such as  Airbnb, FlipKey, HomeAway, VRBO, Roomarama & other providers
  27. 27. 27 Short‐Term Rental (STR) Why is this amendment being proposed? • 2015‐2016: Initial review by the General Assembly   • Potential to limit or prohibit local regulation • 2017: General Assembly passed SB 1578  • Preserves ability to establish local regulation  • Allows for creation of a registry for STRs • Window of opportunity to adopt local regulation • Board Matter (3‐14‐17) directed staff to form work group &  recommend approaches & possible changes to ZO
  28. 28. 28 Current Zoning Ordinance Provisions The Zoning Ordinance does not currently allow  transient occupancy except for a Bed & Breakfast  Establishment in a limited number of zoning districts  or as a Hotel/Motel primarily in non‐residential  districts.   Short‐Term Rental (STR)
  29. 29. 29 Short‐Term Rental (STR) • Survey • To solicit community input on specific features of STR • Survey active from June 19 through August 31, 2017 • Community Meetings • September 5, 2017, 7:00 PM: Hunter Mill District Community Room • September 13, 2017, 7:00 PM: South County Government Center • September 25, 2017, 7:00 PM: McLean Governmental Center • Website:‐term‐rentals.htm    • Link to Survey, meeting calendar, FAQs, and other information  regarding the STR review process 
  30. 30. 30 Questions?