Land Development Process: Overview
Every project is unique and subject to its own set of requirements depending on the location and complexities of the project.
County staff is available to assist you. For specific questions about your project, contact:
- Zoning: Planner of the Day, 703-324-1290, TTY 711
- Site and Subdivision Plans: Engineer of the Day, 703-324-1575, TTY 711
- Building Permits: Permit Application Center, 703-222-0801, TTY 711
Preparing Your Project
Ordinances and Regulations
The following must be consulted before proceeding with a development project.
- Comprehensive Plan is the guide to the long-range physical growth and development of the county and is used as the basis for land use decisions.
- Zoning Ordinance (Chapter 112 of the County Code) is the zoning law in Fairfax County. Before proceeding with any plans for development you should know the zoning district and regulations that govern what you can do with your land.
- Subdivision Ordinance (Chapter 101 of the County Code) establishes the requirements for subdividing land.
- Erosion and Sedimentation Control Law (Chapter 104 of the County Code) addresses erosion on construction sites.
- Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance (Chapter 118 of the County Code) protects local streams and the Bay from pollution due to land use and development.
- Stormwater Management Ordinance (Chapter 124 of the County Code) provides further protection of the county's water resources from pollution.
- Tidal wetlands, shorelines and other lands near the water's edge are subject to additional federal, state and county requirements.
- Public Facilities Manual sets forth the regulations that govern the design of all new public facilities serving new development.
- Virginia Department of Transportation Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements establish requirements that newly constructed streets will need to meet to be accepted into the secondary system of state highways.
Before developing your project you need to know relevant zoning
requirements, legal restrictions and physical characteristics of your
site, such as:
- Zoning information – Determine the zoning district, setback requirements and proffers associated with your parcel. Find your zoning district online, or call 703-222-1082, TTY 711
- Site-specific information - Any information relative to the proposed development of the property to include plats, legal description, easements and other property encumbrances, previous zoning actions, survey, utilities, transportation access, stormwater information, etc.
Physical site characteristics such as plats, topography, soils,
Resource Protection Areas, utilities, transportation access,
stormwater information, etc.
Determine which phase of the development process to follow. There are
four major phases: Planning and Zoning; Site and Subdivision Plan
Review; Building Permits and Inspections; and Bond Release.
County Land Development Process
The following question will help you determine at which phase to start: Is the use (e.g., residential, nonresidential, day-care center, church, vehicles sales, etc.) I propose allowed by the Zoning Ordinance regulations for the zoning district of my property?
If YES, as a:
- Permitted use. You don't need to make further application in the planning and zoning phase of the development process. However, if you cannot meet all the regulations because of the conditions relating to the land itself, you can apply for a variance to request that certain zoning requirements be modified for your project because of conditions beyond your control (i.e., fence height, location of structures in relation to property lines, increase in building height, lot width).
- Special exception use. You must obtain approval of a special exception from the Board of Supervisors.
Special permit use. You must obtain approval of a special permit from the
Board of Zoning Appeals.
If the use is not allowed in the zoning district of your
land, you can request that the land be zoned to a different
zoning district that will allow your proposed use (enter Phase 1 – Planning and Zoning
– of the development process).
- If the use is not allowed in the zoning district of your land, you can request that the land be zoned to a different zoning district that will allow your proposed use (enter Phase 1 – Planning and Zoning – of the development process).
- If your project will meet all the zoning regulations:
Phase 4 - Bond Release and Public Street Acceptance