Petitioning the Board of Zoning Appeals

The Board of Zoning Appeals hears requests for variances, special exceptions and appeals from decisions of the director of Planning regarding the interpretation of the zoning ordinance.


In any specific case where strict enforcement of a zoning regulation would cause unnecessary or unusual physical hardship, the BZA may vary or modify that regulation.

Special Exceptions

This allows a land use not normally permitted in a zoning district. Special Exceptions may be allowed after review and approval by the BZA and after meeting specific conditions. Those uses permitted by Special Exception are listed in the zoning ordinance.

Ordinance & District Map Interpretations

The director of Planning has the responsibility for enforcing the provisions of the zoning ordinance. In cases where it is alleged there is an error to any order, requirement, decision or determination by the director in the administration and enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance, any affected person may appeal to the BZA.

Applications for special exceptions and variances must show that approval will not be materially detrimental to persons living or working in the vicinity, to adjacent property, the neighborhood, or the public welfare in general. In addition, an application for a Variance must contain a surveyed plat and a statement of the unusual circumstances or unique physical characteristics (i.e., exceptional narrowness, shallowness, size, and/or topographic conditions of the property) which would cause an unreasonable hardship on the applicant with the strict enforcement of the requirements of the zoning ordinance.

Summary of Petitioning the Board of Zoning Appeals

  1. Contact the Planning Department at 9800 Government Center Parkway or (804) 748-1050, to submit proposed request and supporting documentation to initiate the pre-application conference.
  2. The supporting documentation will be forwarded to a Project Manager who will contact the applicant to discuss the request and schedule an appointment to review the process and application.
  3. The application (received at the pre-application conference) shall be completed and returned to the Planning Department Customer Service Center with applicable plats, maps, filing fees and any other documentation discussed at the pre-application conference.
  4. Upon receipt of the completed application form and compilation of other information, staff will begin preparing your case for public hearing and assign you a case number. Staff representatives from various county departments will review your request and the site will be inspected. A staff analysis and recommendation will be prepared and submitted to the BZA and the applicant. During this time, the request will be advertised in local newspapers, and notice of requests will be sent to adjacent property owners. At least 21 days prior to the first public hearing date for Variance and Special Exception requests, a sign is posted on the subject property. It is suggested that first-time applicants contact their adjacent property owners and/or civic associations to discuss the request.
  5. At the public hearing, the applicant or a representative must appear to present the proposal and answer questions. Other interested parties will also be allowed to speak if they so desire in support or opposition of the case.
  6. After hearing the testimony, the Board will take action on the request. The Board may approve the request (with or without conditions), deny the request, or defer the request to a future hearing.

If the request is approved, you may then proceed with plans and other necessary review procedures. Conditions imposed by the BZA must be incorporated in these plans. If your request is denied for a special exception or variance, you may: reapply no sooner than 12 months after denial or appeal the BZA's decision to the Circuit Court within 30 days from date of the hearing.