Fairfax County’s Zoning Ordinance Modernization project, known as zMOD, received the American Planning Association (APA) Virginia Chapter’s Commonwealth Plan of the Year Award. The award honors the best planning document of the year, which includes outstanding planning processes, vision, implementation strategies and innovative approaches.
The zMOD project, which began in 2018, was led by the Department of Planning and Development. Committed to conducting widespread public outreach, county staff held more than 100 meetings both in person and virtually over the course of three years to directly engage the community.
Approved by the Board of Supervisors on March 23, 2021, zMOD updated the 42-year-old Zoning Ordinance in order to make it easier to understand and navigate; to update and modernize land uses; and to create simpler, more general zoning use categories. In addition, the Zoning Ordinance was made more user friendly by reducing redundancies in the text and by using language and graphics that are easy to understand. These combined efforts cut the size of the Zoning Ordinance in half.
“I’m so proud of what we were able to accomplish in zMOD,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffery C. McKay. “It was a years-long process that incorporated extensive community outreach and feedback. Through that, we created an ordinance that both makes our zoning policies more accessible, streamlined, and equitable as we move towards land use policies that work towards our environmental sustainability and housing affordability goals.”
In conjunction with the new Zoning Ordinance going into effect on July 1, 2021, a new platform for the Zoning Ordinance was launched to help everyone access zoning regulations. The format provides a robust search capacity and hyperlinks and is accessible on multiple platforms.