Interpretations of Approved Zoning Applications
Guidelines for Submitting Requests for Interpretations Related to Approved Zoning Applications (Rezonings, Special Exceptions, Special Permits and Variances)
The Zoning Ordinance requires all site plans, subdivision plans, building permits, and occupancy permits to be in substantial conformance with the governing zoning application as approved by the Board of Supervisors, the Planning Commission, or the Board of Zoning Appeals, respectively.
"Substantial conformance" with an approved zoning application is a determination made by the Zoning Administrator, upon consideration of the record. However, substantial conformance does leave a reasonable margin for small changes, or "minor modifications."
A minor modification may be determined to be in substantial conformance with an approved zoning application provided that:
The Zoning Ordinance provides that minor modifications to an approved zoning may be permitted when it is determined by the Zoning Administrator that such are in substantial conformance with the approved zoning and that such are in response to issues of topography, drainage, underground utilities, structural safety, layout, design vehicular circulation, or requirements of the Virginia Department of Transportation or Fairfax County; or are accessory uses; or are accessory structures or minor building additions.
Please refer to the specific Zoning Ordinance sections below related to minor modifications for:
Special Permits: Article 8, Section 8-004
The Zoning Ordinance does not contain specific minor modification provisions related to variances, although substantial conformance determinations may still be requested.
The Interpretation Process
The determination of whether a proposed modification is in substantial conformance with an approved zoning application is made through the interpretation process. The Director of the Zoning Evaluation Division serves as the duly authorized agent of the Zoning Administrator for this process. In order to submit a request for an interpretation related to an approved rezoning, special exception, special permit, or variance, please submit a letter addressed to:
Submitting an Interpretation Request Letter
A fee of $520 is required for the processing of interpretation requests. A check for the fee amount must be included with your request, made payable to Fairfax County. The letter requesting an interpretation related to an approved zoning application should include the following information:
The average turnaround time for interpretation requests is 30 days. Requests that pose multiple questions, or alter the questions posed during the staff review process, may take more time to answer. By reviewing these guidelines and submitting materials that fully support and document your request, time will be saved in researching the answer to an interpretation question. If an interpretation request lacks one or more of the applicable elements listed above, unnecessary time is lost as staff seeks missing elements from the requestor. It should be recognized that these are general guidelines, and you may be asked for additional or clarifying information by staff.
If a proposed change to an approved zoning application is found to not be in substantial conformance, the filing of an application to amend the previously approved zoning application would be required to achieve the desired change.
If you have any questions, please contact the Special Projects/Applications Management Branch of the Zoning Evaluation Division within the Department of Planning and Zoning at 703-324-1290.