Group Assembly in Residential Dwellings

Over the last several years, there have been complaints from residents regarding frequent large gatherings at neighborhood homes. These gatherings can create parking, noise, and other concerns for the neighborhood. Although occasional, large gatherings - such as private parties, house concerts, religious meetings and social clubs - are expected and permissible activities at a home, gatherings that occur on a regular basis involving numerous people can detract from the residential nature of a neighborhood because most residential structures and neighborhoods are not designed to accommodate such events.

Accordingly, it is recommended that language be added to the Zoning Ordinance to define what is a permissible "group assembly," and when associated with a residence, when such a group assembly is an appropriate "accessory use." Currently, the Zoning Ordinance does not identify guidelines for the frequency or scale at which group assembly is considered to be a permitted accessory use to a dwelling. Without such specificity, managing and addressing impacts of these large, frequent gatherings becomes problematic, and the County is limited in its ability to respond to neighborhood concerns.

On February 18, 2014, Zoning Administration and Code Compliance staff presented the Board of Supervisors' Development Process Committee (Committee) with draft Zoning Ordinance text that limits the number of persons and frequency of large gatherings at a home. The Committee requested feedback from residents on the proposed text and, to that end, the following series of open community dialogues were held for this purpose:

On June 10, 2014, a summary of the comments received as part of the outreach effort conducted in May 2014 was presented to the Board of Supervisor's Development Process Committee.  These comments were summarized in a Memorandum to the Committee dated June 4, 2014.  After some discussion by members of the Committee, the Committee concurred that there was not enough support to move forward on the proposal and requested that group assembly be removed from the Zoning Ordinance Amendment Work Program, which will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval on July 1, 2014.  Jeff Blackford, Director, Department of Code Compliance advised the Committee that his staff will continue to utilize existing enforcement tools to address neighborhood complaints received on this issue.

Related Documents

Additional Information

If you wish to speak with someone regarding this issue, please contact the Ordinance Administration Branch of the Zoning Administration Division at 703-324-1314.


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