By Kevin Burke
As far back as 2016, Fairfax County’s Planning and Zoning staff have worked to modernize the County’s extensive and detailed master zoning Ordinance. Termed the Zoning Ordinance Modernization (or “zMOD”), this project attempts to make zoning regulations easier to understand and to remove inconsistencies that have crept into the zoning Ordinance due to subsequent amendments since its initial adoption in 1978.
Last year, as part of the zMOD process, the County proposed some changes to the Ordinance, and on March 23, 2021, the County Board of Supervisors adopted the revised Zoning Ordinance, which will be effective on July 1. Included in this massive document are issues that Reston Association has pointed out are of particular interest.
The first of these is the revision to regulations governing home-based businesses. Currently, such regulations vary by business type. For example, certain uses, like teaching music lessons or Pilates, allow customers or clients to come to the home with a comparatively simple-to-obtain administrative approval. At the same time, other businesses, like accounting services, require a costly special permit if they are operated out of the business owner’s home.
The revision that the Board approved will allow more home-based business owners to apply through the simpler administrative process. The new permit will allow up to eight customers in a day. Only businesses in detached single-family homes will be allowed an employee; if the business is based in a townhouse, like at Lakeport, no employees will be permitted.
Last year, in a letter to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, Reston Association expressed concern that the (then proposed) revised Ordinance did not take sufficiently into account its effects on parking, access, and traffic. The County decided, however, that the changes in the regulation and application processes would create a more equitable system for home-based business owners.
The second of the issues raised by the Reston Association was in support of the changes that would require the disclosure and showing of all easements on properties, regardless of easement width, on rezoning and entitlement plans being submitted for review.
Third, Reston Association expressed concerns about changes to the regulation and application process for Accessory Living Units, which would no longer require the person living in such a unit (or the owner) to be 55 or older or a disabled person. However, the County requires that Accessory Living Units be part of a detached single-family home. Thus the changes do not affect Lakeport homeowners.