Petitioning and Appealing to the Board of Zoning Appeals
Petition Requests for Special Exceptions and Variance Requests
The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) is a citizen board appointed by the Circuit Court to hear petition requests for special exceptions (which include temporary manufactured home requests and their renewals, private kennel requests, and one-chair beauty shop requests) and variance requests (which include height exception, no public road frontage exceptions and exceptions for lot width). The BZA also hears appeals from Planning director decisions regarding administrative variances or the interpretation of the zoning ordinance.
Board of Zoning Appeals Requests
Special exceptions allow 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. Applications for special exceptions 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 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. Applications for 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 or hand sketch 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.
Petitioning and Application Process
The BZA request and supporting documentation is forwarded to a case manager who will contact the applicant to discuss the request and schedule an appointment to review the request and to discuss the BZA application process at the Pre-Application Meeting.
A meeting between the Planning case manager, other county department representatives as necessary and the applicant is scheduled to review the submittal requirements (supporting documentation, plans or plats, fees) for the BZA application.
Submittal of Online BZA Petition Application
The applicant will submit an online BZA application through the Enterprise Land Management (ELM) citizen access portal.
Upon receiving a complete application, the case manager will evaluate the request. As part of this review, a site visit to the subject property will be scheduled. Planning will provide an analysis and recommendation which will be submitted to the BZA and the applicant. Additionally, Planning will complete the following notification requirements:
- Advertise the request in local newspapers.
- Mail adjacent property owners a notification of the request.
- Post sign(s) with case information on the subject property at least 21 days prior to the first public hearing date.
It is suggested that first-time applicants contact their adjacent property owners and/or civic associations to discuss the request.
At the public hearing, the applicant or a representative must appear to present the request. Other interested parties will also be allowed to speak in support or opposition of the request.
Approval, Denial or Deferral of the Request
After hearing the testimony, the BZA will take action on the request. The BZA may approve the request (with or without conditions), deny the request or defer the request to a future hearing.
Appeal of the BZA Decision
If the request is denied for a special exception or variance, you may:
- Appeal the BZA’s decision to the Circuit Court within 30 days from date of the public hearing.
- Reapply no sooner than 12 months after the denial.
Appealing to the Board of Zoning Appeals
An appeal to the BZA may be taken by any person aggrieved from any decision or determination made by the Planning director on zoning matters within the scope of the director's authority, including notice of zoning violation.
An administrative variance is an exception granted by the Planning director from any building setback requirement. This may include exceptions to setbacks for existing or proposed structures. Administrative variances are evaluated for a specified hardship as outlined by the zoning ordinance and the final decision may be appealed in accordance with Section 19.1-15.B.2.
Ordinance and District Map Interpretations
The Planning director 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.
Appeals Application Process
Submitting an Appeal
Appellants must submit:
- Submittal of Online BZA Appeal Application - The appellant will submit an online BZA appeal application through the Enterprise Land Management (ELM) citizen access portal. Completed application form which identifies the action, decision or notice of zoning violation being appealed, and date it was issued, specifies the grounds for the appeal, the relief requested and supporting documents.
- Application Fee - A non-refundable application appeal fee of $700 is required within the time constraints to file an appeal.
- Disclosure Affidavit - The disclosure affidavit (PDF) identifies the names and addresses of all persons owning any legal or equitable interest in the real property.
- Power of Attorney - The power of attorney (PDF), if applicable. This is required when an agent represents, or acts on behalf of, the appellant.
The appeal documentation and fee must be electronically received and accepted in the Enterprise Land Management (ELM) system prior to the deadline date specified on the written decision, determination or notice of zoning violation or the appeal will be deemed untimely and returned to the appellant.
Notice of BZA Hearing
Upon receipt of an appeal application, Planning will review the application for completeness and compliance with zoning requirements and will prepare the appeal for a public hearing before the BZA. During this time, the request will be advertised in local newspapers, notification signs posted and notice of the appeal will be sent to adjacent property owners. Appellants will be notified of the date of the public hearing before the BZA.