The Zoning Ordinance includes several regulations designed to facilitate the renovation of older housing stock in the County. Recognizing that many of the existing one- and two-family dwellings in the County no longer conform to current Zoning regulations, there are several renovations that are allowed, even when the dwelling is nonconforming. Some of these renovations may be approved by the Zoning Administrator, and others require approval by the BZA.
Allowed with Zoning Administrator approval (by-right)
By-right renovations are those that may be approved by the Zoning Administrator (although permits may be required). These by-right allowances facilitate the retention of older housing stock in the County and the ability for homeowners to make basic renovations to their homes to meet their needs.
Some of the commonly requested renovations allowed by-right on a legally nonconforming one- or two-family dwelling or on a one- or two-family dwelling on a legally nonconforming lot. Because every renovation is different and may impact multiple zoning regulations, please consult with Zoning to find out if your proposed renovation is allowed by-right.
- Renovation to an existing dwelling, where the renovation is completely contained within the exterior walls of a one- or two-family dwelling located in the R-20, R-10, R-8, R-6, R-5 or R2-7 zoning district. This allowance includes replacement, enlargement or creation of new doors, windows or other openings in existing exterior walls, but does NOT allow replacement of an entire exterior wall (§16.2.3.B)
- Addition to an existing dwelling that encroaches into a required side, rear, and/or front yard(s), so long as the new construction meets all zoning requirements for the subject property (§16.2.4.E)
- Addition to an existing dwelling that is built straight up atop an existing nonconforming wall(s). This provision, however, does NOT allow construction of new eaves that encroach further than allowed by the Zoning Ordinance, nor does it allow construction above encroaching garages or porches (§16.2.4.E).
- Enclosure of an encroaching porch that was built prior to November 20, 1976 (§3.2.6.A.3(c))
- Use of a lot for any use allowed by-right in the zoning district, on lots in R-20, R-10, R-8, R-6, and R-5 districts that have less width and/or area than required in the subject district, so long as the lot was recorded under one ownership prior to July 15, 1950 (§16.1.1)
Allowed with Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) approval
The BZA consists of five members who are appointed by the Circuit Court. The duties of the BZA include hearing cases for use permits or variances.
Use permits (§15.6.6.A)
The BZA may approve use permits that allow modification of placement (setback) requirements for buildings or structures in R-20, R-10, R-8, R-6, R-5 and R2-7 zoning districts where there is no option in the Zoning Ordinance for the County Board to modify these requirements (such as by special exception use permit described in §15.4 or site plan described in §15.5).
When the BZA approves a use permit to allow such modification of placement, it may impose conditions on the approval that it deems necessary to serve the public interest, including limiting the duration of the use permit. In approving a use permit, the BZA must make certain findings:
- The proposal does not adversely affect the health or safety of persons residing in the neighborhood.
- The proposal is not detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to property or improvements in the neighborhood.
- The proposal will not be in conflict with the purposes of master plans and land use- and zoning-related policies of the County.
In making these findings, the BZA considers whether the modification will promote compatibility of development with the surrounding neighborhood because the structure’s overall footprint size and placement are similar to the structures on the properties surrounding the subject lot; and whether the modification will help preserve natural land form, historical features and/or significant trees.
Some of the commonly requested renovations requiring approval of a BZA use permit include the following (these requests require BZA approval regardless of whether the dwelling is conforming or nonconforming):
- Front porch encroaching more than the allowed four feet into a front yard
- Structures, such as areaways, window wells, air conditions units, decks and stoops that encroach more than the allowed four feet into a required yard
- Additions to an existing dwelling that encroach into a required yard
- Structures that encroach into a required yard
- 1- and 1½-story accessory buildings on corner lots
- Eaves that encroach into required yards on additions built atop an existing building footprint
Variances (See Virginia Code 15.2-2201). The BZA may approve variances for reasonable deviation(s) from provisions regulating the size or area of a lot or parcel of land, or the size, area, bulk or location of a building or structure when:
- The strict application of the ordinance would result in unnecessary or unreasonable hardship to the property owner.
- Such need for a variance is not shared generally by other properties, provided such variance is not contrary to the intended spirit and purpose of the ordinance, and would result in substantial justice being done.
- A variance may NOT be approved for a change in use.
Allowed with County Board approval
For certain lots, which exist only in limited quantity in the County, and under limited circumstances, County Board approval is required for renovations.
Modification of zoning requirements for new construction on pipe-stem lots created prior to March 18, 2003 require approval by the County Board (§10.1.4).