DPWES Letters to Industry


Department of Planning and Zoning
Zoning Administration
12055 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, Virginia 22035
703-324-1314, TTY 711

June 23, 2004
04-09

CLUSTER SUBDIVISIONS AMENDMENT

(Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance, and Public Facilities Manual Amendments)

On Monday, June 7, 2004, the Board of Supervisors adopted amendments to the Zoning Ordinance (ZO-04-365), Subdivision Ordinance (17-04-101) and Public Facilities Manual (86-04-PFM) related to cluster subdivisions which become effective at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, 2004. These amendments were prompted, in part, by a 2002 amendment, to Sect. 15.2-2286(A)(12) of the Code of Virginia, which requires localities to amend their land use ordinances to comply with the amended statute no later than July 1, 2004. The Code of Virginia provides that localities may adopt standards to allow cluster subdivisions through an administrative approval process without a public hearing. The Code of Virginia also provides that localities may opt to allow cluster subdivisions through the rezoning or special exception process but in doing so, bonus density provisions must be provided. Finally, the 2002 amendment provides that localities may decide to eliminate cluster subdivisions as a development option in some or all of its zoning districts.

Zoning Ordinance Amendments

Under the adopted cluster subdivision provisions of the Zoning Ordinance effective July 1, 2004, cluster subdivisions are distinguished from conventional subdivisions by minimum open space requirements, minimum district size requirements, reduced lot size requirements in certain circumstances and reduced yard requirements. In addition, the cluster subdivision development option is available in the R-C, R-E, R-1, R-2, R-3 and R-4 Districts. However, the approval process for new cluster subdivisions varies by zoning district. Cluster subdivisions are allowed subject to special exception approval by the Board of Supervisors in the R-C, R-E, and R-1 Districts with a maximum potential density of 0.22 dwelling unit per acre, 0.55 dwelling unit per acre and 1.1 dwelling units per acre, respectively. These maximum potential densities for cluster subdivisions in the R-C, R-E and R-1 Districts reflect a 10% density bonus above the maximum permitted density for a conventional subdivision within the applicable zoning district. Additionally, cluster subdivisions in the R-3 and R-4 Districts that contain at least 2 acres but less than 3.5 acres of land area are allowed subject to special exception approval by the Board of Supervisors with a potential density bonus equivalent to one additional dwelling unit above the maximum density applicable to a conventional subdivision in those respective districts.

Cluster subdivisions within the R-2 District or cluster subdivisions with at least 3.5 acres or more of land area in the R-3 and R-4 Districts are subject to an administrative (by-right) subdivision review process with approval by the Director of the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. In order to improve the integration of the proposed cluster development into an existing residential neighborhood, the Zoning Ordinance, as amended, provides increased lot size requirements for certain lots within a by-right cluster subdivision that are located on the peripheral boundary of the cluster subdivision.

The adopted Zoning Ordinance amendments also address modifications to cluster subdivisions approved prior to July 1, 2004, and the approval of cluster subdivisions through the rezoning process after July 1, 2004.

Subdivision Ordinance Amendments

Under the adopted amendments to the Subdivision Ordinance effective July 1, 2004, all by-right cluster subdivisions are subject to cluster subdivision development standards, including the provision of open space, tree preservation, and the protection of environmentally sensitive areas. These standards can not be waived. The Subdivision Ordinance cluster subdivision standards also require the submission of an existing vegetation map as defined in the Public Facilities Manual (PFM). In addition, the cluster subdivision standards require that a tree preservation plan be submitted by the applicant that includes the location, crown spread, species, size, and condition rating of individual trees and groups of trees proposed to be preserved.

The Subdivision Ordinance, as amended, requires the submission of a preliminary subdivision plat for by-right cluster subdivisions that includes the designation of the existing use and zoning classification for all parcels located outside of and contiguous to the proposed cluster subdivision boundary. Further, the written notice requirement for by-right cluster subdivisions has been modified to include a project description containing the preliminary subdivision plat name, number of units, number of acres, density, amount of open space provided, and a project location description, to include the name of the nearest road, the side of the road on which the project is located, and the estimated distance from the nearest existing road intersection and the name, address, and telephone number of a representative of the applicant.

Public Facilities Manual Amendments

The adopted amendments to the PFM achieve consistency with the cluster subdivision provisions of the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances by limiting encroachment into the Resource Protection Area and the floodplain and its adjacent slopes of 15% or greater.

A copy of the adopted Zoning Ordinance amendment with links to the Subdivision Ordinance and PFM amendments is available on the Department of Planning and Zoning website. Questions concerning this amendment and a copy of the amendment may be obtained by calling 703-324-1314, TTY 711.


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