Zoning Ordinance Modernization (zMOD)

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office hours are 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, VA 22035

Leslie Johnson,
Zoning Administrator

zMOD - Adopted Amendment to Minor Modifications Provisions ZO-17-468

Solar PanelsEffective 11/22/2017

The first Zoning Ordinance amendment prepared in the zMOD Project, “Minor Modifications to Approved Zonings,” was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on November 21, 2017. This amendment added flexibility to the minor modification process in order to better respond to circumstances that change over time as follows:

  • First, it expands the circumstances in which minor changes may be approved administratively.
  • Second, for issues that warrant Board consideration but do not rise to the occasion of requiring a public hearing, the amendment provides a new tool by which the county executive can bring minor variations to proffers to the board for approval as part of the board’s meeting agenda.
  • Third, concurrent with this amendment, the county created an application process whereby single issue changes to approved zonings, that cannot be approved administratively or as county executive items to the board, may be brought forward for public hearing with a tightly focused review and in an expedited timeframe.

The amendment is also designed to provide a balance between the need for additional flexibility to respond to changing circumstances and maintaining the protections of zoning expected by the community.


The amendment expands the circumstances in which minor changes may be approved administratively based upon a substantial conformance determination by the zoning administrator in five additional areas:

  1. To exempt solar collectors and other innovative energy technology structures less than 10 feet in height from building height and roof top coverage limitations.
  2. Exclude from the definition of gross floor area and the calculation of FAR any incidental increase in interior space created by the replacement of a façade material on an existing building.
  3. Permit a change in the color of signs and typeface.
  4. Increase the allowable size for minor building additions and simplify the provisions. All uses would be treated the same and could request to increase the allowable building size by 5 percent of the approved floor area up to a maximum of 2500 square feet.
  5. Permit modifications that reduce building setbacks up to 10% from that shown on an approved development plan.


The amendment would add additional flexibility and streamlines the process by creating a new avenue for the Board of Supervisors to act on six types of requests for minor variations to proffered conditions, as Action Items with public notice, at their meetings:

  • Add or modify a use which is not specifically precluded by proffers or conditions, if the new use does not have a greater land use impact than the approved use(s).
  • Increase building height based upon final engineering or design issues, provided the resultant height does not exceed 15 feet or 15% of the approved height, exceed the maximum height of the zoning district, or have a materially adverse impact adjacent properties.
  • Modify minimum yard dimensions, building setbacks or distances from peripheral lot lines sown on an approved development plan.
  • Modify or delete active or passive recreation uses at the request of the property owner or owners’ association.
  • Modify proffer commitments related to technologies or services that are underutilized or have become ineffective or obsolete as circumstances have changed.
  • Modify architectural design, character, color, features or materials for buildings and signs.


Changes to proffers or development conditions that cannot be approved administratively by the zoning administrator or as county executive items to the board, require the submission and approval of a zoning amendment and public hearing. For single issue changes, a process has been established to bring these applications forward for public hearing with a tightly focused review and in an expedited timeframe. This single issue zoning amendment process has been mapped out to be completed within approximately 90 days, measured from the acceptance of the application to the public hearing before the Planning Commission.

Related Resources

Press Release

Adopted Amendment Text

Procedures for Minor Variations

Staff Report

Presentation to Board of Supervisors

Fairfax Virtual Assistant