On April 9, 2019, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted Zoning Ordinance Amendment ZO-19-480 and Policy Plan Amendment 2017-P-07 pertaining to wireless telecommunication infrastructure, with an effective date of April 10, 2019. These amendments were in response to legislation adopted by the 2018 Virginia General Assembly and the September 26, 2018, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ruling that became effective on January 1, 2019. Both the legislation and FCC Ruling facilitate the deployment of 5G technology. Copies of the adopted amendment are available below:
The major changes incorporated in the adopted Zoning Ordinance Amendment include:
- Wireless facilities that are co-located on existing structures are allowed by right and require no zoning permit if certain criteria are met.
- All new utility distribution or transmission poles 50-feet or lower in height and their associated facilities require Zoning Administrator approval of an Administrative Review Eligible Facility (AREP) permit, subject to standards and an application fee of $500.
- All new structures greater than 50 feet in height are deemed a Standard Process Project and require special exception approval from the Board of Supervisors with an application fee of $6,200.
Policy Plan Amendment 2017-P-07
The major changes incorporated in the adopted Comprehensive Policy Plan Amendment include:
- Co-locations, including, small cell facilities, are deemed a feature shown no longer requiring Planning Commission or administrative review when in conformance with the Plan.
- Administrative review guidelines were expanded to include new aesthetic and locational guidelines for new structures up to 50 feet in height that are designed to support small cell facilities.
- While not a change in the plan, new structures greater than 50 feet in height continue to require Planning Commission review under § 15.2-2232 of the Code of Virginia.
- An AREP application, with a filing fee of $500, is required for new structures up to 50 feet in height. AREP applications are reviewed in accordance with §§ 15.2-2316.3, -2316.4:1, -2316.4:2, 15.2-2232 of the Code of Virginia and the applicable provisions of the Zoning Ordinance.
- AREP applications are no longer required for (1) co-locations on existing structures, including replacement poles, or (2) small cell facility permit applications for the placement of small cell wireless facilities on existing structures. Zoning Administrator reviews under Sect. 6409 of the Spectrum Act (47 U.S.C. § 1545) for the modification of a wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such tower or base station [6409 Reviews] also are no longer required if they comply with the new by-right provisions of the Ordinance.
- Any Small Cell Facility application or any 6409 application that falls under the new by-right provisions that was submitted prior to April 10, 2019 (effective date of the amendments), should be withdrawn by the applicant. Application fees will be fully refunded when no written comments have been issued by staff. No refund will be granted when written staff comments have previously been issued to the applicant.
- All wireless facilities must meet the applicable requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and the Comprehensive Plan, except when inapplicable to eligible facilities request under Section 6409 of the Spectrum Act. Failure to meet any applicable Zoning Ordinance standards would be a zoning violation and may result in zoning enforcement action. Wireless facilities may also be subject to other permitting and review requirements, including site plan approval, building permits, electrical permits or mechanical permits.