Fairfax County Virginia Development Review Process: What You Need to Know

Fairfax County’s seven-step Development Review Process; 1) Concept, 2) Planning and Zoning Review, 3) Design, 4) Permits and Review, 5) Construction and Inspection, 6) Occupancy, and 7) Renewal.

Share Post:

Fairfax County Virginia Development Review Process

Fairfax County Virginia development review process covers many activities, such as basement refinishing, parcel subdivision, and high-rise construction. The process involves thorough evaluations by various county and non-county agencies. And it may entail multiple steps before a project can gain approval. Each project has its own specific requirements, depending on its location and complexities.

These regulations serve as protection for neighborhoods and districts in Fairfax County. They prioritize the health, safety, and welfare of the community. This article aims to provide an overview of Fairfax County’s seven-step process; 1) Concept, 2) Planning and Zoning Review, 3) Design, 4) Permits and Review, 5) Construction and Inspection, 6) Occupancy, and 7) Renewal.

Development Review Process: Step 1 Concept

Step 1 of Fairfax County Virginia Development Review Process is forming a concept for the project and determining its feasibility. The concept starts with the developer’s vision aligned with the county’s goals. Therefore, researching the location and understanding the demand for the project is critical to the concept.

Next, perform a feasibility study. The developer must know relevant zoning requirements, legal restrictions, and physical characteristics of the site, such as:

  1. Zoning information – Determine the zoning district, setback requirements, and proffers associated with your parcel.
  2. Site-specific information – Any information about the proposed property development, including plats, legal description, easements, other property encumbrances, previous zoning actions, survey, utilities, transportation access, stormwater information, etc.
  3. Physical site characteristics such as plats, topography, soils, Resource Protection Areas, utilities, transportation access, stormwater information, etc.

Development Review Process: Step 2 Planning and Zoning Review

Step 2 of the development review process ensures the project’s compatibility with the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance.

The Comprehensive Plan consists of the Policy Plan, four Area Plan volumes, and a Plan Map. It serves as the county’s guide for long-term development decisions. Furthermore, the plan shows desired development by type of use – residential, commercial, industrial, public use, open space, recreational, public facilities, governmental and institutional. Also, it shows proposed and existing transportation and public facilities.

Likewise, the Zoning regulates land use and structures. It aims to create and maintain productive and enjoyable conditions for people and the environment while fulfilling social, economic, and other requirements. The ordinance recognizes the needs of agriculture, housing, industry, and business and promotes the conservation of natural resources.

Step 3 Design

Step 3 of the development review process is the design phase. Once the planning and zoning review is complete, the design phase begins. During this stage, architecture and engineering firms create a site design package and construction documents to submit to the county for review. Ensuring the design complies with the regulations and codes established for safety and environmental protection is vital. A comprehensive list of these codes and regulations can be found online.

Step 4 Permits and Review

Step 4 of the development review process is obtaining the proper review and permits. Fairfax County issues several different types of permits for construction projects, including building permits, trade permits, land disturbance permits, and others. The type of permit needed depends on the work planned.

Additionally, other agency reviews may be necessary to determine if a project complies with construction codes, the zoning ordinance, and other county or state ordinances.

Review types:

  1. Zoning Review
  2. Site Review
  3. Building Plan Review
  4. Wastewater Review
  5. Health Department Review
  6. Fire Marshal Review

Step 5 Construction and Inspection

Step 5 of the development review process is the inspection process.

With a permit in hand, construction can begin. It is the permit holder’s responsibility to contact the county for the stages of construction that require an inspection. Different county agencies may also require inspections.

Step 6 Occupancy

Step 6 of the development review process is occupancy. Once a project is complete, several agencies continue to monitor compliance with various codes for the life of the building or structure. Continuation of inspections is necessary to ensure the public’s health, safety, and welfare after the building is occupied.

Step 7 Renewal

Step 7 of the development review process is renewal. As the building and site’s usefulness becomes obsolete, there becomes a need to redevelop or repurpose the site for economic purposes and possibly for community interests. Redevelopment and revitalization are a natural part of the development process.

For example, the Board of Supervisors created seven Commercial Revitalization Districts/Areas to sustain economic vitality in the older commercial areas and adjacent neighborhoods in Fairfax County. A variety of revitalization program initiatives exist.

If you need assistance with a design plan for Fairfax County review or a consultation on the county’s permitting process, HGD is here to help.

Stay Connected

More Updates

African American woman signing a master development agreement

The Power of Teamwork: Why Architects and Engineers are Key to MDAs

As a developer, negotiating a master development agreement with the local government can be a complex and challenging process. This article explains what an MDA is, and why architects and engineers play a critical role in the negotiation and execution of an MDA.