Below are 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.
"Substantial conformance" with an approved zoning application is a determination made by the Zoning Administrator, or their designee, upon consideration of the record. However, substantial conformance does leave a reasonable margin for small changes, or "minor modifications." As applications move through the development process after zoning approval, and plans advance in their design, questions may arise as to whether the proposal remains in substantial conformance. There are a variety of ways substantial conformance can be determined or modifications may be made if a request is not in substantial conformance:
- Site Plan Review (or other permitting). The agencies who approve site plans (and other permits) that follow a zoning approval have an important role in conducting the conformance review and are authorized to make a determination if the submission is in substantial conformance. ZED has two compliance planners who serve as a resource for these plan reviewers to answer questions without a formal interpretation.
- Interpretation. If the nature of the change is such that a formal written determination is needed or desired, the interpretation process is available to a requestor. The Zoning Administrator has delegated the responsibility and authority for preparing these interpretations to the Division Director of the Zoning Evaluation Division. The request is reviewed against the standards found in the Zoning Ordinance, which provides guidance on what constitutes a minor modification and what exceeds that threshold in subsection 8100.A(1).
- Minor Variation. If a requested change cannot be administratively approved as a minor modification but falls into certain limited categories, a requestor can ask for a minor variation which is heard by the Board of Supervisors as a consideration item at a board meeting. Requirements and eligibility information can be found on the Minor Variations webpage.
- Single Issue Amendment. If a request is not in substantial conformance with the approval, modification will require an amendment, processed in accordance with the regulations of the Zoning Ordinance, with public hearings in front of the appropriate body. If the change can be characterized as a single issue, the request may be considered a “single issue amendment” where review is generally focused on the single issue at hand.
- Amendment. If a request is not in substantial conformance with the approval, modification will require an amendment, processed in accordance with the regulations of the Zoning Ordinance, with public hearings in front of the appropriate body. More information about the zoning process can be found on the Zoning Application and Development Review Process webpage. Amendments will take more or less time, depending on the scope of the request, from a “single issue amendment” as discussed above to a full revision that is essentially a new zoning case.