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 Permit Process

Section 8-001 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 permit uses in the Zoning Ordinance, may be allowed to locate within designated zoning districts under the controls, limitations and regulations of a special permit approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).

The BZA may approve a special permit under the provisions of Article 8 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 area. In addition, in approving a special permit, the BZA 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 BZA will deny the special permit.

In order to request consideration of a special permit by the BZA, an application must be filed with the County by the owners, lessee, or contract purchasers of the land, or their designated agents. A special permit must comply with specific submission requirements, including the provision of a fee and an affidavit, as set forth in the Zoning Ordinance.  Fairfax County's Special Permit Process takes approximately 90 days, from the time an application is filed, to the time of the Board of Zoning Appeals Public Hearing.

Process Overview

  1. Application is filed by the Applicant.
  2. Application submissions are reviewed. when all Zoning Ordinance submission requirements are met, applications are accepted (start of the 90 day process).
  3. Application is scheduled for Board of Zoning Appeals public hearing, is assigned to a staff coordinator, and distributed to various county agencies.
  4. Prestaffing of application. Applicant 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. Notification to adjacent property owners (sent to Applicant 40 days prior to hearing, notices mailed by Applicant postmarked at least 15 days prior to hearing). Instructions for Preparing Legal Notices for Board of Zoning Appeals Public Hearings.
  9. Staff report published (1 week prior to public hearing).
  10. Board of Zoning Appeals Public Hearing.

Related Documents

Special Permit Application Package (Updated January 2021)

Special Permit Application Only

Special Permit Affidavit Only

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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