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Real Estate Signs
What are the rules for posting signs for houses or property for sale? Zoning Ordinance standards for real estate signs can be found in Zoning Ordinance Section 19-640. In part, these standards include:
- No permit is required for most real estate signs.
- Real estate signs must be removed after the sale or rental of the property.
- Offsite real estate signs are limited to one per street intersection.
- Offsite real estate signs cannot include a company logo or Realtor name, and are restricted to the following information: Realtors association trademark "R", equal housing opportunity logo, "for sale" or "for rent" and an arrow.
- Real estate signs shall not be located in the right of way.
What is a record plat? A record plat is the final document for review in the Planning Department’s residential subdivision review process. The record plat and the accompanying application document the final dimensions and boundaries of lots within a subdivision.
Where can I get an application for a record plat? Please click here for the record plat application. A recording fee will be required (click here).
Who does the recording of record plats? The Clerk of the Circuit Court completes the recording of record plats once they are approved by the Planning Department.
Where can I store recreational vehicles? The Zoning Ordinance defines “recreational equipment” (Section 19-301) as: “equipment, including boats, boat trailers, rafts, house trailers, travel trailers, pick-up campers or coaches, motorized dwellings, tent trailers and the like, and cases or boxes used for transporting recreational equipment, whether occupied by such equipment or not.” The zoning ordinance limits recreational equipment storage in residential districts. Recreational equipment may not be parked in front yards (except for loading or unloading), and must be parked or stored in a rear yard in an area that is set back at least ten feet from rear lot lines and five feet from side lot lines. Trailers cannot have wheels removed except for repair purposes. Recreational equipment cannot be used for living or business purposes or connected to utility services except for maintenance purposes. Relief from these requirements requires approval of a development standards modification.
Resource Protection Area
What are resource protection areas? Resource Protection Areas (RPAs) are boundaries determined by the Environmental Engineering Department under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. The purpose of RPAs is to protect land areas adjacent to water bodies that contribute directly to water quality and health of the watershed.
I have a resource protection area on part of my property. What can I do with that part of my property? The Environmental Engineering Department must approve encroachment, clearing or construction within a RPA.
What are restricted uses? Restricted land uses vary by the type of zoning classification a property is zoned. A restricted land use is permitted on a property provided that each restriction can be met per the Zoning Ordinance.
What happens if I want to do a certain restricted use and cannot meet the conditions that are listed by the Zoning Ordinance? If the restrictions cannot be met, a conditional use permit would be required.
How do I get my property rezoned? Several steps are involved in the rezoning process. Please click here for more information regarding the rezoning process.
Will my request get approved? Each rezoning case is looked at independently and is considered on a case-by-case basis. There are no guaranteed approvals for any rezoning case. Prior to making application for rezoning, Planning Department staff will meet with you to review your request and discuss the rezoning process.
How long does this process take? While each rezoning case is different, the average time needed to process rezoning cases is approximately six to eight months. Every case is unique so the time frame will vary accordingly. Some applications are delayed at the request of the applicant when additional time is necessary to address neighborhood concerns about the proposal.
How much does this process cost? The cost for rezoning property in the county depends on the rezoning desired for the property as well as the acreage of the property. Please click here for detailed fee information.
Does the county rezone property? The county has a formal process for rezoning property that includes public hearings at the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. Nearly always, property is considered for rezoning only after private property owners initiate this process. In rare and infrequent situations, the county may initiate the rezoning process.
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What rules apply to installing satellite dishes? Federal law allows installation of small satellite dishes (one meter – 39.37 inches – or smaller) in residential districts and dishes two meters (78.74 inches) or smaller in commercial districts. Dishes larger than one meter are not permitted in residential zoning districts. Satellite dishes between two meters and 12 feet in diameter are permitted subject to restrictions in office, commercial, and the I-1 zoning districts. Satellite dishes are permitted without special restrictions in I-2 and I-3 zoning districts, subject to setback requirements for accessory structures.
What is a schematic plan? A schematic plan depicts land uses and general road access for mixed use development projects.
When is a schematic plan required? A schematic plan may be a requirement of zoning conditions or for any project containing residential and nonresidential uses together. Prior to tentative or site plan approval, a schematic plan must be approved by the Planning Commission.
What are the steps for getting a schematic plan approved? An application (please contact the Planning Department) and an application fee are required. Public notice is sent to all adjacent landowners of the property under schematic plan review. The final step is a public hearing at the Planning Commission.
Second Dwelling Units
Can I have a second dwelling unit in my house so a relative can live with me? The Zoning Ordinance permits one single-family dwelling unit per residential property. The definition of a dwelling unit allows separate areas for living, sleeping, cooking, and bathrooms. This means that if a house has a second kitchen with facilities for eating, sleeping and bathing that can be separated from the structure (i.e. closure of a door), it is no longer a single-family dwelling and is therefore not permitted by zoning. A conditional use would be required for the second dwelling unit (even if it is occupied by a family member). A cooking area will be considered to be a separate kitchen if it contains a sink and at least one major appliance such as a stove or refrigerator). No special permit is required for a relative to live in your house, so long as the house remains a single-family dwelling. Click here for detailed information.
An informational brochure about setbacks is available online: Yard Setback Information For Your Project.
What is a setback? A setback is the legally required distance separation between structures and property lines, buffers and/or floodplain boundaries.
Why are setbacks required? Setbacks are a requirement of the Zoning Ordinance, which is part of the Code of Chesterfield County. The purpose of 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 Zoning Ordinance to indicate required building “setbacks.”
What setbacks apply to my property? Setbacks depend on the zoning district, conditions of zoning, and subdivision restrictions that apply to the property. Please check with the Planning Department to confirm zoning as well as the setbacks for a particular property.
How are setbacks measured? Most setbacks are measured from property lines. Other forms of setbacks are taken from the actual boundary line (for example a 25’ setback from a floodplain boundary is taken from the actual floodplain boundary).
Do I need a building permit to build or install a shed? A building permit is required for most new construction. Information about building permits is available from the Building Inspections Department. Building permits are generally not required for small accessory structures (such as sheds less than 200 square feet, costing less than $500 in materials and labor).
Where can I build a shed on my property? Detached structures must meet accessory structure setbacks. Setbacks vary by zoning district so please consult the Planning Department to verify the zoning and potential locations of all easements first.
Where do I get a sign permit? Sign permit applications are available online and at the Building Inspections Department.
What sign restrictions apply to my property? The Zoning Ordinance governs various sign restrictions, based on the type of sign (such as freestanding, building mounted, banners, directional signs, etc.), where the sign is located, and what the type of use the sign is advertising. There may also be conditions of zoning that apply to the property in question. Finally, property owner associations and commercial center management may have additional sign restrictions. Please contact the Planning Department to discuss your particular situation.
Please explain the site plan review process and various requirements. Click here for a brochure that overviews the site plan review process. If you have additional questions, please contact the Planning Department.
Where can I get a site plan review application form? Click here.
Where can I read staff comments on site plan review applications? Click here.
What is a special exception? A special exception is permission granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals to allow certain types of land uses that are not normally permitted in a zoning district. The Zoning Ordinance lists the types of special exceptions that are possible in each zoning district.
How do I get approved for a special exception? A property owner must apply to the Board of Zoning Appeals. This process requires an application form (contact the Planning Department) and an application fee. The Board of Zoning Appeals has the authority to approve, approve with conditions, or deny applications for special exceptions.
How can I get a copy of a staff report for a planning or zoning case? Click here for meeting agendas and staff reports for upcoming Board of Zoning Appeals, Board of Supervisors, and Planning Commission meetings. Staff reports are typically available one week prior to the scheduled public hearing date. Staff reports for previously approved actions are available upon request from the Planning Department.
Do I need a building permit to build or install a storage building? A building permit is required for most new construction. Information about building permits is available from the Building Inspections Department. Building permits are generally not required for small accessory structures (such as tool sheds less than 200 square feet, costing less than $500 in materials and labor).
How can I get a copy of the subdivision ordinance? Click here for an electronic copy. Paper copies are available through the Planning Department for the cost of copying.
My subdivision is incomplete and many improvements such as paving and landscaping are not finished. When will these be addressed? During the construction phase of any new subdivision, it is typical for some improvements to be partially installed during initial construction and finished during later construction phases. When a subdivision is under construction, there is an interim period when some improvements are completed, and others are "bonded" and will be installed later. This process allows development to proceed and provides a financial and legal guarantee that subdivision improvements will be completed per plan. This may include improvements such as landscaping, street pavement, utility pole relocation,streetlight installation, etc.
What is a substantial accord? A substantial accord is a finding by the Board of Supervisors that a proposed capital facility (school, library, fire station, etc.) is “substantially in accord” with the adopted Comprehensive Plan. Click here to view the county’s substantial accord policy.
Where can I get a copy of my property’s survey plat? A copy of your survey plat may be obtained through the Records Room at the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
Will the county survey my property? Chesterfield County does not survey private property. You may need to consult a private surveyor/engineer to perform this service.
Where can I put a new swimming pool on my property? A pool is a permitted accessory structure in residential and agricultural districts. A pool cannot be placed in the front or corner side yard, and must be setback at least six feet from side and rear property lines. If attaching a deck to a pool different setbacks may apply. Contact the Planning Department for setback information at (804) 748-1050.
What the fence requirements for swimming pools? Barrier fences are required for security purposes around swimming pools. Please contact the Building Inspections Department at (804) 748-1057 fore additional information. Click here for a brochure on pool barrier requirements.
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Temporary Health Care Unit
What is a Temporary Health Care Unit? A transportable residential unit used for a caregiver’s provision of residence and care for a mentally or physically impaired person who is certified by a licensed medical physician as requiring assistance with two or more activities of daily living as defined by state law. These structures are permitted in Residential (R), MH and (A) districts. Temporary Health Care Units require a special permit through the Planning Department.
Tax Map Number
What is my tax map number? The term “tax map number” refers to the old system of property identification, which has been replaced by “tax ID numbers” (also called “parcel ID numbers”). The tax ID number is 15 digits and refers to a geographic reference system that enables computerized mapping of county properties. You can look up your property’s tax ID number through the Real Estate Assessments Department. Enter your property address to access the database.
Do I need a building permit to build or install a tool shed? A building permit is required for most new construction. Information about building permits is available from the Building Inspections Department.
Where can I park my trailer(s)? In residential (R) districts recreational equipment cannot be parked or stored in front of houses (except for loading and unloading). They may be parked in the rear year of the property, so long as they are located at least five feet from side property lines and ten feet rear property lines. No more than two pieces of recreational equipment may be parked outside on any residential (R) property. Utility trailers can be parked in the side or front yards.
What is the county’s plan for transportation? The Thoroughfare Plan is part of the Comprehensive Plan. This plan identifies road network needs to serve future development.
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What types of land uses are permitted on my property? Permitted land uses vary by zoning district and sometimes by conditions of zoning (such as conditional uses, special exceptions, etc.). The Planning Department can help you verify specifically what land uses are permitted on a property.
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What is a validation plat? Over the years, regulations have changed, pertaining to how property outside of a subdivision may be divided. Many properties created under “the old rules” do not meet current standards. The subdivision ordinance allows many of these older parcels to be “validated” (made acceptable for building purposes) through the validation plat process.
How do I apply for a validation plat? An Validation Plat Application and application fee are required.
What is a variance? The Zoning Ordinance defines a variance as: “a reasonable deviation from those provisions of this chapter 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 this chapter would result in unnecessary or unreasonable hardship to the property owner, and such need for a variance would not be shared generally by other properties, and provided such variance is not contrary to the intended spirit and purpose of this chapter and would result in substantial justice being done.” Variances apply to physical development standards such as building setbacks and building height.
How do I apply for a variance? Variances require strict legal findings, including a requirement that the variance is necessary due to a real hardship. Generally, this finding cannot be made if the applicant has a legitimate design alternative. There are two types of variances. One option is to have staff make an administrative determination for a variance for building setbacks. This process typically requires sixty (60) days processing time. Another option is to have the Board of Zoning Appeals make a determination for the variance request. An application form (contact the Planning Department) and an application fee will be required. This process typically requires ninety (90) days processing time.
I want to open a vehicle 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. You will also need a business license to operate the business.
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.
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All requirements for walls should be verified using the Zoning Ordinance and the Building Code. You may need to check for zoning conditions that may apply to your proposed project. The files can be viewed in the Planning Department or you may contact our office for assistance.
Residential: Walls can be up to seven (7) feet in height in the side and rear yards, and up to four (4) feet in height in the front and corner side yards. On corner lots no wall shall be above a height of two (2) feet six (6) inches within twenty (20) feet in either direction of the corner and at intersections with driveways back 10 feet from the property line. You may need to check the restrictive covenants of your neighborhood, which are not enforced by the county, for standards such as the style and design of walls. Covenants and lot surveys may be obtained from the Circuit Court Record Room or your community association office. There are no architectural standards for residential walls in the Zoning Ordinance. Check with the Department of Building Inspections to see if a building permit is required for the construction of a wall. (804) 748-1057 Click here for a brochure describing common fence regulations.
Commercial and industrial: Screening for dumpsters, mechanical equipment, outside storage areas, and truck dock or loading areas are typically required to be designed and constructed of materials similar in color and finish to the building(s) on site. Fences, if allowed, should be designed with alternating boards that provides for two quality material faces. If a solid board fence is used the flat, quality face shall face the adjacent property and the visual structure side shall face toward the project site.
General: Security fences are required around swimming pools and shall be at least four (4) feet in height. Barrier permits are required for security fences around swimming pools. Otherwise building permits are typically not required for fences or walls. Please contact Building Inspections for more details. Prior to digging fence post holes, please call "Miss Utilities" at 1-800-552-7001, so they can mark the location of underground utility lines. Finally be sure to check for easement and property line locations on your survey prior to contacting the Planning Department for assistance. Please note that if an easement runs along your property line, you would need to check with the easement owner to see if they will allow you to build within the easement. Most properties have a utility easement running along their rear property lines. The Utilities Department should be contacted to discuss encroachment into utility easements.
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What are the county rules for yard sales? Yard sales are permitted with restrictions in residential and agricultural districts. A yard sale must: 1) be accessory to a principal use, 2) not exceed two days in duration, 3) be conducted by the owner or lessee of the property and includes only personal/household items 4) not occur on the same property more than four times in a calendar year and/or no more than two times in a thirty day period. No permit is required from the Planning Department. Signs for yard sales are limited to four square feet in size. One sign may be posted offsite for directional purposes (so long as it is not posted on traffic control signs, utility poles, or in such a way that it obstructs the visibility of vehicles on the road) and one sign may be posted on the property. Yard sale signs may not be posted earlier than 48 hours prior to the sale. All yard sale signs must be removed within 48 hours after the sale.
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How can I rezone my property? Click here for information regarding the rezoning process.
How can I change zoning ordinance requirements? Amendments to the actual text of the ordinance are initiated by either the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors, and are subject to final review and approval by the Board of Supervisors. Relief from specific zoning requirements may be possible, depending on the type of requirement. Please contact the Planning Department for application information.
What is a zoning certificate? A zoning certificate is an official letter issued by the Planning Department that discusses zoning issues that apply to a property.
How can I get a zoning certificate?Click here. Submit your request in writing to the Planning Department along with a check payable to ”Treasurer of Chesterfield County” in the amount of $100.00. You should be specific in the request by listing all items you would like to have addressed.
The zoning certificate addresses certain zoning issues only. The current zoning ordinance references permitted uses and all applicable development standards and is available on our web site at www.chesterfield.gov/plan. You may contact the Building Inspections Department (804) 748-1057 and the Fire Department (804) 748-1360 for their respective codes and requirements.
What are zoning districts? The county is divided into a variety of zoning districts to encourage balanced development and compatible land uses. There are a variety of districts, including agricultural, residential, office, commercial, and industrial.
What is my zoning district? You may access the CitizenGIS website to search for zoning district information on properties in the county. For more zoning information, contact the Planning Department.
What is the Zoning Ordinance? The Zoning Ordinance is Chapter 19 of the Chesterfield County Code, and provides standards for the use and development of land in the county. The ordinance states: “the purpose of this chapter is to promote the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the public and to accomplish the objectives of Code of Virginia, §§ 15.2-2200 and 15.2-2283.”
What happens if someone violates the Zoning Ordinance? The Zoning Ordinance is an adopted law that can be enforced through monetary fines and citations requiring court appearance.
Zoning: Permitted Uses
What types of land uses are permitted on my property? Permitted land uses vary by zoning district. Other conditions of zoning (conditional uses, special exceptions) may also allow or restrict certain permitted uses. The Planning Department can verify specifically permitted uses for a property.
How do I file a complaint about a zoning violation? You may report zoning violations by calling 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 the situation. The information you provide will be confidential. This information is excluded from the freedom of information act and does not have to be revealed. County policy is to not reveal the identity of complainants on zoning enforcement concerns. Violations in public roads should be referred to the Police Department.