Maintaining Neighborhood Character

Update: Recent Activities and Upcoming Events

On December 12, 2008, staff presented to the Board of Supervisors' Development Process Committee a conceptual approach that explained how a setback ratio could be used to reduce infill looming. Staff's presentation illustrated the comparative value of using a setback ratio approach versus an angle of bulk plane. At the December 12, 2008 Development Process Committee meeting, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to coordinate public meetings for the purpose of explaining the basic principles of a setback ratio and to gather feedback on how a setback ratio can be used in conjuction with a requirement that single family detached dwelling height be measured from the lesser of pre-existing or finished grade elevations.

The following public meetings have been scheduled and all are invited to attend:

  • Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 from 7 - 9 p.m. at South County Government Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309, in the Main Conference Room (SCC 221). Meeting Agenda
  • Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 from 7 - 9 p.m. at Oakton High School, 2900 Sutton Road, Vienna, VA 22181, in the Lecture Hall (enter through the main entrance or door #5 near the rear parking lot).       
Click on the following link to view a Draft copy of the slideshow that will be presented at the above meetings.  Additional text slides will be added to the final slideshow, but the current drawing slides are expected to remain unchanged.  
Setback Ratio Slideshow


On July 23, 2007 the Board of Supervisors approved a motion directing staff from the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services and the Department of Planning and Zoning to report back to the Board with recommended changes to the definition of building height to address the following issues:

  • Construction  of homes that tower above existing neighboring homes;
  • The artificial elevating of lots by adding fill dirt to raise the effective height of homes.

At the January 14, 2008 Development Process Committee meeting, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to also evaluate a lot coverage regulation to further address compatibility of single family dwelling infill construction.  The Board directed staff to work with community representatives and industry regarding these proposed regulations and report back to them in March of this year.

A series of three stakeholder meetings were coordinated by staff in late February and early March of this year.  The stakeholder meetings were attended by citizen and industry representatives and attention was primarily focused on the proposed use of an angle of bulk plane and adjustments to how single family residential building height is measured.

On March 17, 2008, staff briefed the Board’s Development Process Committee on the results of the stakeholders’ meetings and presented information on how a lot coverage approach might be used to complement current and proposed residential infill regulations.

A public meeting was held on June 24, 2008, at which time staff presented proposed methods of using bulk plane angles and a method for applying certain grade elevations when measuring residential building height. 

On August 1, 2008, staff made a presentation to the Board's Development Process committee that included responses to questions that were raised at the June 24th public meeting. The presentation also expanded upon the details that were first provided at the previous March 17th Development Process Committee meeting.

On September 22, 2008, the Board of Supervisors decided not to authorize public hearings on a proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment that included an angle of bulk plane. Additionally, the Board directed staff to explore whether or not there might be simpler and less costly alternative methods that could achieve similar results as compared to an angle of bulk plane.

Related Documents

To view or print the portable document format (PDF) files on this page you will need Adobe Reader.

Maintaining Neighborhood Character Power Point presentation - June 24, 2008 (PDF, Large File)

Maintaining Neighborhood Character Power Point presentation - August 1, 2008 (PDF, Large File)

Setback Ratio Concept Power Point presentation - December 12, 2008 (PDF, Large File)

Additional Information

Further information regarding this topic may be obtained by contacting Jack Reale or Lorrie Kirst of the Zoning Administration Division at 703-324-1314 or by email at .



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