Zoning Evaluation Division

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy., Suite 801
Fairfax, VA 22035

Tracy Strunk,

Special Exception Process

Section 9-001 of the Zoning Ordinance states that there are certain uses which by their nature or design can have an undue impact upon, or be incompatible with, other uses of land. In addition, there are times when standards and regulations specified for certain uses allowed within a given zoning district should be allowed to be modified, within limitations, in the interest of sound development. These uses, described as special exception uses in the Zoning Ordinance, may be allowed to locate within designated zoning districts under the controls, limitations and regulations of a special exception approved by the Board of Supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors may approve a special exception under the provisions of Article 9 of the Zoning Ordinance, when it concludes that the proposed use complies with all specified standards, including the standards that such use will be in harmony with the Comprehensive Plan and will be compatible with existing and/or planned development in the general area. In addition, in approving a special exception, the Board may impose conditions and restrictions to ensure that the standards will be met. Where such cannot be accomplished, or when it is determined that the use is not in accordance with all applicable standards of the Zoning Ordinance, the Board will deny the special exception.

In order to request consideration of a special exception, an application must be filed with the County by the owners, lessee, or contract purchasers of the land, or their designated agents. A special exception must meet specific submission requirements, including the provision of a fee and an affidavit, as set forth in the Zoning Ordinance.

Process Overview

  1. Application is filed by the Applicant.
  2. Application submissions are reviewed. When all Zoning Ordinance submission requirements are met, application is accepted and distributed to various county agencies.
  3. Application is scheduled for Planning Commission Public Hearing and is assigned to a staff coordinator.
  4. Prestaffing of application/Applicant will be contacted by staff about initial staff comments.
  5. Revisions relating to prestaffing comments are submitted.
  6. Staffing of application/Applicant. Will be contacted by staff about final staff comments.
  7. Revisions relating to the staffing comments are submitted.
  8. Final submission deadline (6 weeks prior to Planning Commission Public Hearing. Staff report is published based on information received by this date).
  9. Notification to adjacent property owners (sent to Applicant 30 days prior to hearing, notices mailed by Applicant postmarked at least 15 days prior to hearing).
  10. Staff report published (2 weeks prior to public hearing).
  11. Planning Commission Public Hearing.
  12. Application is scheduled for Board of Supervisors Public Hearing.
  13. Notification to adjacent property owners (sent to Applicant 30 days prior to hearing, notices mailed by Applicant postmarked at least 15 days prior to hearing).
  14. Board of Supervisors Public Hearing.

Related Documents

Special Exception Application Package (Updated July 2019)

Special Exception Application Only

Special Exception Affidavit

Reaffirmation of Affidavit Form

Zoning Application and Development Review Process

The development review process applies to all those seeking approval of a rezoning, a special exception, a special permit or a variance in Fairfax County.


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