Frequently Asked Questions - Planning Commission
The Code of Virginia and the County Zoning Ordinance require that an applicant, as the agent of the County, send notice to all property owners abutting (touching) or across the street from a piece of property that is the subject of a potential land use change, insuring that a minimum of 25 different landowners are notified. When the abutting landowners are less than the required 25, notice is sent to enough nearby property owners to make up the difference. Therefore, you may receive a notice letter and your neighbor may not. Notice is also sent to applicable civic associations.
The notice does not require you to attend the public hearing; it is simply sent to make you aware of a potential land use change and offer you an opportunity to make your opinion known on the proposal at the scheduled Planning Commission hearing or in writing.
I want to speak to my District Planning Commissioner. How can I contact that person?
You may call the Planning Commission Office at 703-324-2865 and leave your name, day and evening telephone numbers, and email address with the staff, along with the topic you are interested in addressing, or send that information by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Since most of the Planning Commissioners hold full time jobs, in addition to their responsibilities on the Commission, messages or emails are taken by the Planning Commission staff and forwarded to the respective Commissioner. The Commission members will then return call(s) at their convenience.
How can I obtain a copy of the staff report for a pending land use application?
Staff reports on site-specific land use applications are generally available two (2) weeks prior to the scheduled public hearing. You can obtain a copy at the Zoning Evaluation Division of the Department of Planning and Zoning, Suite 801, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035. These reports are also available online at either: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/staffreports or on the calendar page of the Planning Commission website, by selecting the month and date at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning/meetingcalendar.htm.
In addition, the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services produces staff reports on proposed amendments to the Public Facilities Manual or other County Codes that have public hearings before the Planning Commission. These proposed amendments are also available online about two weeks prior to hearings at: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/publications/pfm/amendments.htm.
The Planning Commission normally meets every Wednesday and Thursday night at 8:15 p.m., in the Board Auditorium of the Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035, except for holidays and August recess, or as the schedule allows.
What is the order of the scheduled agenda items?
The Planning Commission Secretary sets the order of the Commission's agenda at the beginning of each meeting, taking into consideration the expected length of the hearing, the number of speakers on each application, the preferences of Commission members and staff availability.
How do I sign up to testify at a Planning Commission meeting and how long may I speak?
To testify on a specific matter scheduled for public hearing, you may:
1) fill out the on-line form at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning/speaker.htm before 3:00 p.m. on the day of the scheduled hearing;
2) call the Planning Commission Office at 703-324-2865 before 3:00 p.m. on the day of the scheduled hearing; or
3) sign up prior to the start of the public hearing with the Commission Clerk by writing your name and address on the notepad located at the left end of the dais in the Board Auditorium. After all previously listed speakers have finished their testimony, you will be called upon by the Commission Chairman in order of the evening registrations.
For Plan Amendment Public Hearings if you have signed up to testify in advance and represent yourself, you will be allowed three (3) minutes to speak. If you represent a registered association such as a civic, citizen's or homeowners association you may take up to five (5) minutes to speak. If you have not signed up before 3:00 p.m. on the day of the scheduled hearing you will be allowed up to two (2) minutes to speak.
For all other Public Hearings if you have signed up to testify in advance and represent yourself, you will be allowed five (5) minutes to speak. If you represent a registered association such as a civic, citizen's, or homeowner's association, you may take up to ten (10) minutes to speak. If you have not signed up before 3:00 p.m. on the day of the scheduled hearing, you will be allowed three minutes to speak.
After all names have been called, anyone not on the Speakers List will have an opportunity to address the Commission. To submit written copies of public hearing testimony, provide 13 copies to the Clerk. After questions and comments from the Commissioners, the Chairman will close the public hearing. Commission action on APR items will not be taken until the scheduled mark-up sessions.
For additional information on Commission procedures, please see the website section entitled: "Meetings and Procedures".
If I want to bring copies of my testimony with me, how many do I need?
Please bring fifteen (15) copies of any handouts for the Commission's use: Twelve (12) for the individual Commission members and three (3) for the Commission Office's permanent record on the application.
If I want to deliver a PowerPoint presentation or show a video during my testimony at a Planning Commission meeting, what do I need to do?
Contact Cable Programming at 703-324-5930 no later than 4:00 p.m. on the scheduled meeting date.
How do I get to the Government Center?
Please refer to http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/maps/county/government-center.htm to get detailed directions to the Fairfax County Government Center from varying locations.
Will I be notified if a public hearing is postponed?
If the Planning Commission Office has been notified in advance that a scheduled public hearing will be postponed, any speakers that have signed up to testify will be called and informed of the deferral, and the Commission's website will be updated to reflect the change. You may also call the Commission Office at 703-324-2865 to verify the scheduled hearing. Note: If you are an abutting property owner, you will receive written notice of the new public hearing date provided the rescheduled date is more than eight days after the initially-scheduled hearing date.
I cannot attend the planning commission meeting on a certain date, will the meeting be broadcast on television or available in some other form?
All Planning Commission meetings are broadcast live on Cable Channel 16, beginning at 8:15 pm on the scheduled meeting date. If you do not have access to Cable Channel 16, you can view the meeting live via video streaming at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cable/channel16/vod.htm by clicking on the Watch Channel 16 Live! link.
How can I view a DVD recording of a past Planning Commission meeting or request a copy of a DVD?
DVD recordings of Planning Commission meetings dating back to January 2002 are available in the Planning Commission Office, Suite 330, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035. Please call the Planning Commission Office at 703-324-2865 to arrange a time to view the DVD.
You can also request a DVD recording of a Planning Commission meeting by contacting Cable Programming at 703-324-5930. Please note that a fee is associated with this service.
In addition, you can view archived Channel 16 videos of Planning Commission meetings held within the past year online at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cable/channel16/pc_meetings.htm.
How can I voice my opinion on an application if I am unable to attend the hearing?
If you are not able to testify in person, you may submit your written opinion on the pending application by mail to the Planning Commission Office, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 330, Fairfax, Virginia 22035, or by fax at 703-324-3948. Submissions may also be sent via email to: email@example.com. Comments must be in writing. Planning Commission staff is unable to relay verbal comments about an application to Commissioners.
How far back do Planning Commission records go and can I access them?
The Planning Commission Office has sealed copies of Minutes of Planning Commission meetings beginning in 1941 available for review in Suite 330 of the Government Center. Planning Commission files, including all backup documentation, are also available in Suite 330 from 2005 to the present time. Files prior to 2005 are held in Archives and Records Management, at 6800-A Industrial Road, Springfield. Planning Commission staff can order files for you from Archives and they should be available for review within 2 to 3 working days. Please call the Planning Commission Office at 703-324-2865 to request archived files and provide as much information as possible, such as the applicant's name, the application number, the date of the hearing and the property location and staff will research your request.
What does the Planning Commission do?
The Planning Commission advises the Board of Supervisors on all matters related to the orderly growth and development of land in Fairfax County. This includes, among others, the location, character and extent of all public facilities in the County; amendments to the County's Comprehensive Plan; any amendments to the Zoning Ordinance, the Public Facilities Ordinance, and the Subdivision Ordinance; rezoning and special exception applications filed; approvals of final development plans; and, where deemed necessary, the Commission may also forward recommendations to the Board of Zoning Appeals on variances, special permits, and appeals filed before that body.
How are Commissioners appointed?
Planning Commissioners are appointed by the Board of Supervisors for four-year terms on a staggered basis. Each of the nine supervisory districts has a representative, and three members are appointed at-large.
Terms of office usually commence at the beginning of a calendar year and expire four years later at the end of the year. Commissioners may also be reappointed by the Board for additional terms. Members who resign or die during their term of office are replaced for the unexpired appointment term only.
How does one qualify to be a Planning Commission member?According to the Code of Virginia, Planning Commission members must be "residents of the County, qualified by knowledge and experience to make decisions on questions of community growth and development." A District Commissioner must reside in the District represented; At-Large members may reside anywhere in the County.
Are Planning Commissioners paid?
Planning Commission salaries are established by resolution of the Board of Supervisors. Members currently receive a $23,000 stipend per year, but are not compensated for travel or mileage costs that may be incurred in the execution of their duties.