Historic Overlay District Notification - Frequently Asked Questions



Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Historic Overlay District Notification

Historic Overlay District Notification Why is the county notifying property owners at this time?

What is a Historic Overlay District and how did my property get in one?

Okay, so I'm in a Historic Overlay District. What does that mean? Do I have to get approval for interior and exterior alterations?

How much will this cost me?

My subdivision already has an architectural design committee. Do I still need approval from the county's Architectural Review Board?

How long does this process take?

My property was built after the Historic Overlay Districts were created, why do I have to present exterior alterations of my property to the Architectural Review Board?

Does the ARB often deny a proposal? I'm concerned that the ARB will deny my project.

I'm still not clear about what I need to do. Is there someone I can talk to about this?


Why is the county notifying property owners at this time?



The Department of Planning and Zoning wants to make sure that all property owners that have property within a Historic Overlay District (HOD) know:

  • that their property is located in a Historic Overlay District
  • where to get information about the unique requirements of being in a HOD
  • that certain exterior modifications to properties within a HOD may be subject to review and approval from the county's Architectural Review Board

 

What is a Historic Overlay District and how did my property get in one?

 

Fairfax County has 13 Historic Overlay Districts that were created between 1970 and 1986. They include mills, churches, historic homes, Civil War fortifications, archaeological sites and a unique planned community. They were made possible by a Zoning Ordinance amendment  passed in 1969 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to protect the buildings, structures, neighborhoods, and places that have special historical, cultural, architectural, or archaeological significance.

 

Okay, so I'm in a Historic Overlay District. What does that mean? Do I have to get approval for interior and exterior alterations?

 

Only certain exterior alterations, generally ones that require a building permit, are the alterations that need approval from the Architectural Review Board. Interior alterations do not require approval. To paraphrase the county Zoning Ordinance:

ARB approval shall be required prior to the issuance of Building Permits for the following:

A. erection, construction, reconstruction, or exterior rehabilitation, remodeling, alteration or restoration of any building or structure in a Historic Overlay District;
B. for the demolition, razing, relocation, or moving of any building or structure in a Historic Overlay District.

ARB approval shall not be required prior to issuance of Building Permits for the following:

A. interior alteration of any building or structure in a Historic Overlay District;
B. additions to buildings and structures or for accessory structures when such proposed development is not visible from the public right-of-way or a contributing or historic property within a Historic Overlay District; or
C. re-roofing and re-siding of non-contributing buildings or structures within a Historic Overlay District when the replacement roofing or siding is similar in color, material and texture to that which is being replaced.

 

How much will this cost me?


There is no ARB application fee.

 

My subdivision already has an architectural design committee. Do I still need approval from the county's Architectural Review Board?

 

Yes, but only for exterior alterations that require a building permit.

 

How long does this process take?

 

The time frame for ARB approval depends upon factors such as the complexity of the project, clarity of the project information presented to the ARB and the potential impact of the project on the historic properties in the HOD. Some projects can be reviewed and approved at one meeting with the ARB; other projects could take two or three meetings.

 

My property was built after the Historic Overlay Districts were created, why do I have to present exterior alterations of my property to the Architectural Review Board?

 

The intent of the 1969 Zoning Ordinance was to protect the historic resources within the Historic Overlay Districts. The overlay zoning helps to protect against inappropriate uses, changes and additions that could damage the historic resources and your property values.

In reviewing projects, the ARB takes into consideration factors such as whether the alterations are proposed to be made to a non-historic property, the distance the project is from the historic resource, the visibility from the historic resource, and the impact the project may have on the character and integrity of the HOD.

 

I'm concerned that the ARB will deny my proposal. How often does the ARB often deny a proposal?

 

The ARB routinely works with property owners to find design solutions that protect the historic resources and character of the HOD as mandated by the Zoning Ordinance and encourage property uses which will lead to the continuance, conservation and improvement of the HOD. Sometimes that could mean using a certain type or amount of landscaping or adjusting the site layout of the project.

The ARB has gone years without denying a project. During project review, the ARB may suggest certain elements be re-examined. This may mean changes to the project since it was first proposed.

 

I'm still not clear about what I need to do. Is there someone I can talk to?

Yes, please call the Department of Planning and Zoning at 703-324-1380, TTY# 711 and ask for the Historic Preservation Planner.

 

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