If YOU Live in Fairfax County - Your Neighborhood WILL Be Affected by the Proposed County Zoning Changes.
is a link to the ZONING REVISIONS DRAFT county staff has prepared for
the Board of Supervisors (BoS). The BoS will vote to approve or
disapprove the Draft for advertisement at its 12/1 Board Meeting. This action will start the clock for public hearings beginning in January with approval in March. Our
concern is that phase I of the Zoning Modification Ordinance (which
will be law) has mission creep from the original plan to "to
make the regulations easier for all stakeholders to understand, and to
remove inconsistencies, gaps, and ambiguities that have found their way
into the Ordinance since initial adoption of the current Ordinance in
1978." Please note that whatever changes are adopted by the BoS that favor less control of development can not be undone in this Dillon Rule state.
A change like this needs MORE citizen involvement than normal - not LESS as this is getting because of COVID-19.
The Draft revision includes major changes with no enforcement protocols and no public hearings! It would allow:
- Market-Rate Accessory Apartment Units (ALU) in single-family homes with NO public hearing. The existing requirement that the Accessory/Apartment Unit go through a public hearing and be occupancy-limited for an aged or differently-abled family member would be abolished.
- Home Based Businesses (HBB), many traffic generating, with NO public hearing. Each HBB could have signs totaling 12 square feet.
- The original home can have a home-based business and SO COULD THE SECOND UNIT. So you could get both a duplex AND two home-based businesses in one single-family home. No public hearing per case means neighbors have no say if the businesses generate traffic/parking problems.
- Certain neighborhood commercial areas 'by right' uses to expand and include hookah bars; such new uses may or may not be compatible with the presently existing commercial uses(restaurants, health clinics, child learning establishments, etc.) or adjacent residential neighborhoods. Again, there would no longer be a public hearing for each or any case.
BACKGROUND: The County has been working on 'zMOD' (Zoning Modernization) for several years and during that time staff has met with various formal citizen or industry groups across the county, but MOST citizens and residential taxpayers have NO idea about how profoundly these proposals have the potential to alter neighborhood character.
- Apart from Springfield Supervisor Herrity's pre-pandemic meeting at Clifton Town Hall, no other Supervisor has held an 'Open Town Hall' on any of the proposed changes. Hunter Mill Supervisor Walter Alcorn is holding a Neighborhood Town Hall on 11/30 to discuss the proposal; importantly, he has made a point of underscoring the highly debatable proposals for Accessory Apartment Units and Home Based Business. Sully Supervisor Kathy Smith has scheduled an informational meeting for citizens in early December; but unfortunately for citizens, the Sully meeting is AFTER the Board makes its 12/1 decision on advertising this Draft.
- Apparently, no environmental groups such as Sierra or Audubon have been asked for comments. We need their insight prior to any 'Final Draft' status.
- There is a 30 page summary at the beginning of the 700+ page ZMOD Draft. 'Concerned Citizens’ could plow through the Draft, or download the document as a searchable Word or PDF Search for keywords that matter to you. Unfortunately, this Draft doesn't contain an Index (!!) nor simple charts or graphics that lay out the changes. No redline versions have been made public, footnotes are meant to explain changes.
- CITIZENS HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD PRIOR TO THE BOARD TAKING AN OFFICIAL POSITION ON THIS DRAFT ORDINANCE. But we need to request our right be honored.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. EMAIL the Board of Supervisors and the Chairman’s Office TODAY. ASK that THE VOTE TO CONSIDER ADVERTISING THE ZONING DRAFT/Administrative Item #3 BE DEFERRED UNTIL 2021 AND AFTER CITIZEN TOWN HALLS ARE HELD IN EACH DISTRICT. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, ClerktotheBOS@fairfaxcounty.gov
This is our County. Citizens should have direct input into how County land-use regulations will change. There is a Webpage and a Facebook page for zMOD, but nothing beats direct communication with our elected officials.
2. The revisions will change the fabric of our everyday lives. Not all of them are bad, but neither are they all 'neutral or better.’ Let's make sure citizens are consulted before these changes are officially rolled out. Hunter Mill District Supervisor's Town Hall tonight at 7 pm can be watched live on this YouTube channel OR Hunter Mill District residents and others may actively participate following the information here.
LINK TO the EXECUTIVE SUMMARY followed by 700+ page Revised Zoning Code: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning-development/sites/planning-development/files/assets/documents/zmod/proposed-ordinance-annotated.pdfLINK TO ADMINISTRATIVE ITEM 3 for the December 1 Board of Supervisors Meeting: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/boardofsupervisors/sites/boardofsupervisors/files/assets/meeting-materials/2020/board/dec01-board-package.pdf