Zoning Glossary

Zoning GlossaryThis Glossary is provided to assist the public in understanding the staff evaluation and analysis of development proposals. It should not be construed as representing legal definitions. Refer to the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance, Comprehensive Plan or Public Facilities Manual for additional information.


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Common Abbreviations

ABANDONMENT: Refers to road or street abandonment, an action taken by the Board of Supervisors, usually through the public hearing process, to abolish the public's right-of-passage over a road or road right-of way. Upon abandonment, the right-of-way automatically reverts to the underlying fee owners. If the fee to the owner is unknown, Virginia law presumes that fee to the roadbed rests with the adjacent property owners if there is no evidence to the contrary.

ACCESSORY DWELLING UNIT (OR APARTMENT): A secondary dwelling unit established in conjunction with and clearly subordinate to a single family detached dwelling unit. An accessory dwelling unit may be allowed if a special permit is granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). Refer to Sect. 8-918 of the Zoning Ordinance.

AFFORDABLE DWELLING UNIT (ADU) DEVELOPMENT: Residential development to assist in the provision of affordable housing for persons of low and moderate income in accordance with the affordable dwelling unit program and in accordance with Zoning Ordinance regulations. Residential development which provides affordable dwelling units may result in a density bonus (see below) permitting the construction of additional housing units. See Part 8 of Article 2 of the Zoning Ordinance.

AGRICULTURAL AND FORESTAL DISTRICTS: A land use classification created under Chapter 114 or 115 of the Fairfax County Code for the purpose of qualifying landowners who wish to retain their property for agricultural or forestal use for use/value taxation pursuant to Chapter 58 of the Fairfax County Code.

BARRIER: A wall, fence, earthen berm, or plant materials which may be used to provide a physical separation between land uses. Refer to Article 13 of the Zoning Ordinance for specific barrier requirements.

BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES (BMPs): Stormwater management techniques or land use practices that are determined to be the most effective, practicable means of preventing and/or reducing the amount of pollution generated by nonpoint sources in order to improve water quality.

BUFFER: Graduated mix of land uses, building heights or intensities designed to mitigate potential conflicts between different types or intensities of land uses; may also provide for a transition between uses. A landscaped buffer may be an area of open, undeveloped land and may include a combination of fences, walls, berms, open space and/or landscape plantings. A buffer is not necessarily coincident with transitional screening.


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