Proposed Amendments Authorized for Public Hearing
The following proposed amendments to the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance are scheduled to be authorized or have been authorized for advertisement of public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. Please note that hearing dates and times may be subject to change.
For the convenience of the public, copies of the Staff Reports for the Proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendments are available for review in portable document format (PDF) below. Some attachments to the Staff Reports may not be available in electronic format. If you are interested in viewing these documents, please contact the Zoning Administration Division at 703-324-1314.
Recently Adopted Amendments
Click here to view the Zoning Ordinance amendments that have been adopted since the publication of the Zoning Ordinance Reprint dated June, 2017.
The following topic areas are actively being researched and evaluated by staff to develop a proposal for an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance. These potential amendments have not been formally authorized by the Board of Supervisors for public hearing at this time.
Zoning Ordinance Modernization Project
The following topics are being considered as part of the Zoning Ordinance Modernization Project:
1. Planned Development Housing (PDH) Districts
On June 18, 2015, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Reed v. Town of Gilbert, which drew a very distinct line concerning the use of content-based sign regulations. The facts concerned an ordinance in Gilbert, Arizona that had differing restrictions on political, ideological and directional signs. The Supreme Court decided that the Gilbert ordinance was "content-based" and could not survive the strict scrutiny required by the First Amendment to protect freedom of speech. As such, the Court found that the Gilbert regulations applied to particular speech because of the topics discussed and/or expressed on the sign itself - thereby regulating some kinds of speech differently from others. Fairfax County's sign ordinance needs to be amended to respond to the Gilbert decisions.
3. Use Definitions and Categories (including restaurants)
The Zoning Ordinance defines and regulates restaurants based on outdated operational characteristics. The amendment is needed to clarify and simplify regulations in order to respond to this important sector of the County's economy. This amendment is the first one under the Zoning Ordinance Modernization (zMOD) to address creating more generic use definitions to keep pace with current and future trends.
2017 Zoning Ordinance Amendment Work Program
Additionally, the following topics are being considered as part of the 2017 Zoning Ordinance Amendment Work Program:
1. Agricultural Uses and Districts
The Zoning Ordinance currently defines agriculture and permits such use in various low intensity residential districts. Today's market has indicated a desire for more "agritourism" related uses (such as wineries, farm markets, seasonal farm festivals, etc.), which are currently not specifically set forth in the provisions. Additionally, new forms of agricultural activity, such as urban community gardens and container farms, need specific designations in the Zoning Ordinance to accommodate them in appropriate zoning districts other than low density residential districts.
2. Continuing Care Communities
The Zoning Ordinance accommodates independent living facilities (dwellings) and a variety of assisted living/nursing care/memory care facilities (medical care) as separate uses. Today's market is increasingly seeing these uses in combination, which presents some challenges given the zoning regulations applicable to each use.
3. Rear Yard Coverage
On lots containing single family detached dwellings, the Zoning Ordinance limits coverage of the minimum required rear yard area (which does not necessarily constitute the entire rear yard) with accessory uses and structures to a maximum of 30%. It has become increasingly common to have more hardscaping features and other outdoor amenities in rear yards, such as patios, pool decking, and other features, which may not all require building permits for construction, and therefore residents may not be aware of this restriction. Additionally, smaller lots such as those in Planned Development ("P") Districts and corner lots which have smaller minimum required rear yards face additional challenges in satisfying this requirement while maintaining reasonable use of the rear yard. This amendment would provide property owners increased flexibility and a means of requesting relief.
4. Reston Planned Residential Community (PRC) District
Based on recommendations from a 40-member community task force, the Comprehensive Plan for Reston was updated in 2014 and 2015. The plan calls for future growth to be focused in the Town Center, the Village Centers, and the areas around the three Metro Stations. An update to the Zoning Ordinance is needed to implement the new plan, because some of its current provisions limit the growth of Reston by capping its population to 13 persons per acre. Additional information on the proposed amendment can be found on the main Reston PRC ZOA page.
5. Short-Term Rentals (STR)
The Board of Supervisors has directed the creation of a working group to draft zoning regulations for Short-Term Rentals in the county and to establish a registry of Short-Term Rentals. In proposing Short-Term Rental regulations to the Board, the working group seeks to balance residents' interests to protect the character of their neighborhood with the interests of persons wanting to operate Short-Term Rentals with in their residence.