Historic Overlay District Notification - Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Historic Overlay District Notification
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
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.
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
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.
There is no ARB application fee.
Yes, but only for exterior alterations that require a building permit.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, please call the Department of Planning and Zoning at 703-324-1380, TTY# 711 and ask for the Historic Preservation Planner.