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Director
Kirk Turner

Email Address
Planning@chesterfield.gov  

Phone Numbers
Office (804) 748-1050
Fax (804) 717-6295

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 40
Chesterfield, VA 23832-0040

Street Address
9800 Government Center Parkway, 2nd Floor
Chesterfield, VA 23832 Map this 

Hours
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. EST

Community Development Building location map in PDF format 

 

 
FAQ
Planning Frequently Asked Questions A-C

- A -

Accessory Building/ Accessory Use 

What is an accessory use and what rules apply to these? The Zoning Ordinance allows various accessory buildings or land uses in each zoning district. The ordinance defines “accessory” as: “A building or a use of land used for a purpose incident and subordinate to that for which a main building is used, and the use of premises for a purpose incident and subordinate to the main or dominant use of the premises.” For a building or use to be considered accessory, it must be lesser than the primary permitted use on the property. For example, if a detached garage building is allowed as an accessory use in a residential district, it must be smaller than the primary residential use (i.e. house).

Administrative Variance 

Variances to building setbacks may be processed administratively or through the public hearing process at the Board of Zoning Appeals, at the applicant's option. Administrative variances require an application form (contact the Planning Department) and an application fee. Variances require strict legal findings, based on proof supplied by the applicant. These findings include:

  1. That the strict application of the ordinance requirement would produce undue hardship;
  2. That such hardship is not shared generally by other properties in the same zoning district and the same vicinity; and
  3. That the authorization of such administrative variance will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property and that the character of the zoning district will not be changed by the granting of the administrative variance.

We encourage you to review all possible design solutions that would not require a variance process.

Animals 

What types of animals are allowed at my house? The Zoning Ordinance regulates permitted land uses in zoning districts. In residential districts, household pets such as dogs, cats, parakeets, tropical fish, etc. are permitted “accessory uses.” Keeping more than three dogs that are more than four months old for non-commercial use is defined as a “private kennel.” Private kennels are permitted in the agricultural (A) district and prohibited in residential districts. A special exception is required for private kennels in residential districts. Dog licenses are also required and are available through Animal Control.

For keeping farm animals see Farms and Farming.

I want to keep an “exotic” animal. What are the rules? Approval of a conditional use permit would be required in agricultural or residential districts to keep animals that have the same general character as farm animals or small domesticated livestock. Keeping animals that do not fit the above-listed categories requires approval of a conditional use planned development.

Appeals 

How can I appeal a recent planning or zoning decision? The Code of Chesterfield County provides the right of appeal to certain persons for a variety of different zoning and subdivision decisions. The appeal process depends on the type of action you wish to appeal. There may also be an application fee for certain types of appeal applications. The right to appeal in some cases is restricted. Please contact the Planning Department to discuss your particular situation.

Application Forms 

Where can I get application forms for zoning or development projects? Most application forms are available online in Adobe PDF format through the Planning Department’s General Information webpage. These applications are also printed and available at the Planning Department front counter. Application forms for rezoning, conditional use permits, conditional use planned developments, and substantial accord determinations are available upon completion of a pre-application meeting with zoning staff. The county is researching options for online application submission. However, at this time, paper copies of applications must still be submitted.

Can I submit applications by mail or by courier? Application resubmittals and supplemental information can generally be sent by mail or courier. New applications should be submitted in person, directly by the applicant or agent, so that any incomplete items may be fully communicated. Applications that are not filed in person may require longer processing times in order to evaluate application completeness.

What happens if I submit an incomplete application? Planning Department staff will work with you to identify the missing or incomplete parts of the application. Certain items (including, but not limited to the application form, power of attorney form, and the application fee) must be included in the submittal or your application will be returned.

Assessments 

How much is my property worth? The Real Estate Assessments Department has a simple web site that you can use to find assessment information.

How will a proposed development affect my property values? The county does not provide real estate advice and cannot predict the potential impacts of any development proposal on nearby property values. You may wish to discuss this question with a real estate professional.

What are assessment rates in my area? Go to the Real Estate Assessments Department for general information regarding assessments. The Chesterfield County Communities Report provides information on a variety of housing indicators, including assessment trends.

- B -

Banners 

The Chesterfield County Zoning Ordinance (Section 19-638) allows temporary sign banners that advertise special events (i.e. sales, grand opening, community events). A free banner permit application is required for each banner. Outlined below is a brief synopsis of banner requirements:

  • Maximum size of a freestanding banner size is 32 square feet and the maximum size of a building mounted banner is 50 square feet or 15% of the building face.
  • Banners must be constructed of fabric or other similar flexible material; can be freestanding or building-mounted.
  • Banners must be displayed on-site.
  • Banners solely advertising a business name and/or logo are not permitted.
  • With the exception of banners advertising a community event of a nonprofit on vacant property or the recruitment period for a nonprofit sports team, banners can be displayed for up to 60 consecutive days at a time. Banners advertising a community event of a nonprofit on vacant property may be displayed for 15 consecutive days and the recruitment period for a nonprofit sports team may be displayed 30 consecutive days.
  • Annual permitted display days are as follows:
    Within Banner Limitations Special Areas: Businesses may display their banners for a total of 60 days per calendar year; licensed nonprofit organizations are allowed 120 days. All other areas: Both businesses and licensed nonprofit organizations may display their banners for a total of 120 days.
  • Organizations are only allowed to display one banner at a time;
  • A grand opening banner is permitted while a new business waits for the permanent sign to be installed. Grand opening banners are permitted for up to one 30-day period. In order to qualify for a grand opening banner, the principal permanent sign must not be installed.
  • Any banner violation shall be remedied within 24 hours of notification by the Planning Department. The director of planning may deny a banner application for up to one year from the issuance of the most recent notice of violation if a property, business or organization has received two notices of violation of this section in any 12-month period.

Board of Supervisors 

Who is my Board of Supervisors representative? The county is divided into five magisterial districts (Bermuda, Clover Hill, Dale, Matoaca, and Midlothian), each with its own elected representative to the Board of Supervisors. The Real Estate Assessments Department Web site has a simple fill-in screen that you can use that will show your magisterial district. Click here for contact information for your Supervisor.

Where do I find information about Board of Supervisors meetings? Click here for information about meeting dates, agendas, and minutes. Click here for recent and upcoming zoning case agendas.

Board of Zoning Appeals 

What is the Board of Zoning Appeals and what do they do? Click here for general information about the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). The BZA reviews applications for variances, special exceptions and certain types of appeals.

Who is my Board of Zoning Appeals representative? The county is divided into five magisterial districts (Bermuda, Clover Hill, Dale, Matoaca, and Midlothian). each with its own appointed representative to the BZA. The Circuit Court appoints members to represent each district. The Real Estate Assessments Department website has a simple fill-in screen that you can use that will show your magisterial district.

How can I contact my BZA representative? Click here for contact information.

Boat 

Where can I store my boat? The Zoning Ordinance defines boats as “recreational equipment” and limits boat storage in residential districts. Recreational equipment must be parked or stored in a rear yard (except for loading or unloading), in an area set back at least ten feet from rear lot lines and five feet from side lot lines. No trailer shall have its wheels removed except for temporary repair purposes.

Buffers 

What are buffers? A buffer is a natural screening area composed of natural vegetation, such as trees and underbrush. The intent of a buffer is to shield developments from adjoining roads, more intense land uses, noise, glare, and to maintain privacy.

What buffer requirements apply to my property? Buffer widths, locations, and requirements vary across the county. Contact the Planning Department to discuss your particular situation.

What can be done in buffer areas? Designated buffers cannot be disturbed. This includes removing trees and underbrush. Removal of dead or diseased trees in buffers must be approved by the Planning Department. Accessory buildings such as garages and sheds may not encroach into buffer areas.

Building Addition 

I’d like to build an addition to my house. What is required? Before construction begins you should contact the Planning Department to verify building setbacks, and contact the Building Inspections Department regarding building permit requirements. Several informational brochures are available on the Planning Department’s General Information webpage.

What about the review requirements to expand my non-residential building? Very minor additions (less than 2,500 square feet of total land disturbance) generally require only a building permit. Non-residential additions that result in 2,500 to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance may be eligible for minor site plan review. All other non-residential additions typically require site plan review.

Building Permit 

Do I need a building permit? A building permit is required for most new construction. Information about building permits is available from the Building Inspections Department or by calling (804)748-1057.

Buildable Residential Lot 

I have a vacant lot. Can I build a house on it? Factors such as zoning, lot area, lot width, utility connections, and parcel creation date may all affect whether a lot or parcel is buildable for a residence. Contact the Planning Department at (804) 748-1050 to discuss your particular situation.

Building Setbacks 

What are building setbacks and why are they required? Building setbacks are the minimum distance separation required between property lines and a building. Setbacks are required by the Zoning Ordinance. The purpose of building setbacks is to provide adequate yard areas and separation between buildings for light, air and privacy between properties. The term “yards” is used in the ordinance to indicate required building “setbacks.” An informational brochure on setbacks is available on the Planning Department’s General Information webpage.

What building setbacks apply to my property? The Zoning Ordinance lists the required minimum yards listed in each residential zoning district. Setback requirements for any property may have been modified by a condition of zoning, recorded subdivision plat, or by variances granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals. Setbacks for office, commercial, and industrial uses are outlined in the Zoning Ordinance through a variety of district and area regulations. Always contact the Planning Department to verify setbacks for your particular situation.

Business License 

Do I need a business license? Most businesses in Chesterfield County must be licensed by the county. Click here for business license information. New businesses must also comply with applicable zoning requirements. Please contact the Planning Department for zoning information. If your business will operate from your home, it will also be subject to zoning requirements for home occupations.

- C - 

Carport 

What are the requirements for building a carport on my property? Generally, a carport will require building permit approval through the Building Inspections Department, prior to construction. If the carport is attached to the main structure on the property (such as a house) it would need to comply with building setback requirements for the main structure. If the carport is detached (stand-alone), it would need to comply with the building setback requirements for accessory structures. Contact the Planning Department at (804) 748-1050 to discuss setbacks for your property.

Car Repair 

I want to open a car repair business. What are the county requirements? The property where you wish to operate the business would need to be properly zoned. Generally, such businesses are not permitted in residential, agricultural, or office zoning districts.

I want to repair my car at my house. What county standards apply? Car repair of your personal vehicle is permitted by zoning at your residence, subject to certain limitations. The car repair activity cannot be operated as a business. Private covenants or homeowners association requirements may also prohibit or further restrict vehicle repair. The County does not maintain or enforce private covenants and restrictions. You should contact your private Community Association for neighborhood requirements.

I have a car that doesn’t run. Are there particular storage requirements for keeping this at my home? Only one inoperable vehicle may be stored outside of a fully enclosed building, provided it is placed in the rear yard and either licensed and inspected or a $100 fee paid to the County Treasurer and shielded or screened from view.

Case (Site Plan, Subdivision, Zoning, etc.) 

What does the term “case” mean, as used by the Planning Department? The term “case” is used to refer to individual applications for zoning or planning approvals. Applications for planning or zoning approval are assigned eight digit alphanumeric codes for tracking and project management purposes (for example: 06SN0123). The first two digits identify the fiscal year when the application was received. The next two letters identify the type of application. The final four digits are assigned in the order of application receipt. This case number is used throughout the planning process and is included in public hearing notices and meeting agendas. Some cases may be searched online through Development Proposals on the Planning Department website.

CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) 

What are covenants or CC&Rs? Zoning standards are "minimum" standards that apply to all property. Certain subdivisions also have private covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) and/or property owner associations. These additional conditions are not enforced by the county since they are private legal arrangements between property owners. These conditions are enforced by property owner associations, or by private property owners in a subdivision, or both. Often, covenants are more restrictive than county ordinances. However, in the case where covenants are less restrictive than the zoning ordinance standards, the zoning ordinance does apply as the minimum requirement.

Some associations are mandatory, meaning that all residents must pay a membership fee. Others are voluntary, meaning that membership is optional. Associations are a primary means for enforcing property covenants. Covenants vary by subdivision, and are usually on record in the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The Planning Department does not maintain records of private property covenants.

Census Data 

Where can I find Census data for Chesterfield County? The Census Bureau conducts a decennial census (once every ten years) of population and housing, and produces a variety of other demographic reports. Click here to view summary information about Census data for Chesterfield County. More recent, limited census data may be available through the American Communities Survey.

Census Tracts 

What is my Census Tract number? Click here for map showing census tracts.

Chickens 

Are chickens allowed in my neighborhood? Chickens are permitted in the agricultural (A) district on property that is at least three acres in size. For property less than 3 acres in the agricultural (A) district up to 12 chickens may be kept. In single family residential zoning districts, keeping of up to 6 chickens is permitted with certain restrictions. The keeping of chickens must be incidental to the dwelling on the property and comply with the following:

  • Roosters are not kept; 
  • At all times, chickens are kept within a single building having a single attached fenced outside run as follows: 

     
    • The building is a minimum of 10 square feet and a maximum of 20 square feet; 
    • The fenced outside run area is a maximum of 40 square feet and has a minimum area of 5 square feet per chicken; and 
    • The fenced outside run area is securely enclosed on the top and sides with a wire mesh or similar material 

       
  • The building and attached outside run area are located in the rear yard and setback a minimum of 25 feet from all property lines; 
  • Slaughtering of chickens does not occur; 
  • All areas associated with the keeping of chickens shall be cleaned and made free of waste on a regular basis. Waste associated with the use shall be disposed of in an appropriate waste disposal container that is periodically removed from the site; and 
  • The property owner shall employ a means of eliminating any odor problems and propagation of insects related to the use. 

Childcare 

What are the rules for running a childcare business out of a home? Childcare is a permitted use in residential and agricultural districts provided that the childcare operator takes care of no more than five children at one time (not including any children living on the premises). A conditional use permit is required for family day care homes that take care of more than five children that live elsewhere. For more information, click here, or contact the Planning Department at (804) 748-1050.

Churches / Places of Worship 

Where are churches or places of worship allowed? Churches and other places of worship are permitted uses in most residential and commercial zoning districts. Contact the Planning Department to verify the zoning on a specific property, to see if a church or other place of worship would be permitted.

Can I have a church meeting in my home? Your home may be used for occasional group meetings (such as a weekly bible study) if your home is primarily used for residential purposes and the church or other place of worship has permanent office and/or meeting facilities in another location. If your home is the primary meeting or office location for the church, the site would need to be improved to meet commercial development standards (parking, landscaping, handicap accessibility, etc.).

Citizen Notification 

How are citizens notified of upcoming planning or zoning requests? Applications for zoning actions, subdivisions, and site plans are announced in a variety of ways. Mailed notices are typically sent to the property owner of record for properties adjacent and contiguous to the proposed project site, and to persons and organizations that have requested written notice. Projects requiring a public hearing are also noticed through newspaper legal advertisements. The county also posts signs announcing proposed development requests on or near proposed project sites. Each sign has a three digit case code, such as "234." This represents the last three digits of the case number (in this example, the case number is 06SN0234. Using a touch-tone telephone you can obtain general information of a proposal by calling the Planning Department automated telephone information system 24 hours a day. For blue signs call (804) 751-4700 and follow the prompts. For green signs call (804) 751-4610 and follow the prompts. A Development Proposal Case Look-Up is also available online. If the above-listed resources don’t help, please contact our office at 804-748-1050. It helps us if you have a specific case number or the location of the sign so we can find the correct case information for you.

Click here for additional project information for upcoming public hearings.

Code Enforcement 

How do I file a zoning complaint? You may report zoning violations by calling (804) 748-1500 during normal business hours, or by using our Web-based complaint system. An inspector will visit the site within five business days. When a violation is observed we will work with the property owner to resolve it. Chesterfield County policy is to not reveal the identity of zoning enforcement complainants. Information you provide is confidential, excluded from the Freedom of Information Act, and will not be revealed to others. Violations in public roads should be referred to the Police Department.

Comprehensive Plan 

What is the Comprehensive Plan? The Comprehensive Plan is adopted by the Board of Supervisors to guide future growth and development. The Plan serves as the guide for evaluating future rezoning decisions.

When will the Comprehensive Plan be updated? The Comprehensive Plan is updated at least every five years. Contact the Planning Department to obtain the latest information about upcoming updates. (804) 748-1050

What does the Comprehensive Plan recommend for my community?Click here for an overview of the current Comprehensive Plan.

Conditional Use (CU) 

What is a conditional use? The conditional use process allows the County to consider certain types of land uses (conditional uses) that are not normally permitted in a zoning district. This process allows a case-by-case review of certain land uses, to examine how the proposed use would affect nearby properties. This review provides the opportunity for the public to express support or concerns about the proposed land use through public hearings. The Board of Supervisors makes final determinations on whether to grant a conditional use permit.

What steps are necessary for getting a conditional use? Conditional use applications follow a standard public hearing process. This process typically requires four to six months, and includes the following basic steps:

  • Informal review by planning staff. We will review the proposal in light of the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, past approvals, and site-specific development and land use considerations. We inform potential applicants whether we will recommend approval, approval with certain conditions, or denial of the request.
  • Pre-Application meeting with planning staff to review application.
  • Formal submittal of application and application fees.
  • Staff analysis and report preparation, for Planning Commission review.
  • Planning Commission public hearing. The Planning Commission forwards a recommendation on the case for final action by the Board of Supervisors public hearing, where a final determination is made to approve or deny the request.

Conditional Use Planned Development (CUPD) 

What is a conditional use planned development? The conditional use planned development process allows the county to consider exceptions to “bulk” standards (such as required setbacks) and “use” standards (for consideration of land uses not permitted in a zoning district). This process is often used to promote high-quality, mixed-use developments with unique standards that are appropriate to a specific development. This review provides the opportunity for the public to express support or concerns about the proposed land use through public hearings. The Board of Supervisors makes final determinations on whether to grant conditional use planned developments.

What steps are necessary for conditional use planned development approval? Conditional use planned development applications follow a standard public hearing process. This process typically requires four to six months, and includes the following basic steps:

  • Informal review by planning staff. We will review the proposal in light of the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, past approvals, and site-specific development and land use considerations. We inform potential applicants whether we will recommend approval, approval with certain conditions, or denial of the request.
  • Pre-Application meeting with planning staff to review application.
  • Formal submittal of application and application fee.
  • Staff analysis and report preparation, for Planning Commission review.
  • Planning Commission public hearing. The Planning Commission forwards a recommendation on the case for final action by the Board of Supervisors public hearing, where a final determination is made to approve or deny the request.

I understand that conditional use planned developments can include “use exceptions” and “bulk exceptions.” What are these? Use exceptions are specified uses that are not permitted by right in a given zoning district. These use exceptions may be permitted through the approval of a conditional use planned development. Bulk exceptions are requested variations from the development standards of the Zoning Ordinance (some examples variations from development standards may include: building setbacks, parking and landscaping requirements).

Conditions of Zoning 

What are conditions of zoning? Through the rezoning process, the Board of Supervisors may accept proffered conditions (voluntary offers by the applicant to develop a property subject to certain conditions) or require conditions to be placed on future development. These conditions are binding legal obligations that are often more restrictive than the normal zoning standards.

Several zoning cases apply to my property and they have conflicting conditions for development. How can I find out which rules apply? If two or more zoning cases have conflicting conditions, the most recently approved condition would apply.

How can I find what conditions of zoning apply to my property? This information is not available on our website. Please contact the Planning Department.

Contact Information 

How do I contact the Planning Department?Click here.

Crime Information 

Where can I get information about crime rates in my neighborhood? The Chesterfield County Communities Report provides a variety of crime information at the community scale. The county is divided into 25 communities for the purpose of yearly study of various community trends. The report provides crime data for violent crimes, property crimes, and quality of life crimes. Additional crime information may be available through the Police Department.

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