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

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

Initiate Request

Contact the Planning Department by calling 804-748-1050 to speak to a planner and discuss your BZA request. During this call, planners will provide basic information regarding the type of request and help identify the need for supporting documentation.

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.

Administrative Variance

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.