The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) grants their own use permits/variances that modify requirements contained in the Zoning Ordinance with respect to physical requirements of improvements on a lot or parcel of land, including setback and other placement requirements.
The Amendment to Section 3.2 authorizes the BZA to grant use permits that modify the placement of structures in certain zones, specifically on lots in R-20, R-10, R-8, R-6, R-5 and R2-7 districts where there is no option in the Zoning Ordinance to allow modification of requirements by the County Board, such as special exception use permits. The BZA may impose conditions on its use permits that it deems necessary in the public interest, including limiting the duration of the use permit.
The BZA shall not approve a use permit unless it finds that the proposal:
- Will not affect adversely the health or safety of persons residing in the neighborhood
- Will not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to property or improvements in the neighborhood
- Will not be in conflict with the purposes of the master plans and land use and zoning related policies of the County
In making a decision, the BZA will consider whether the modification will promote compatibility of development with the surrounding neighborhood. The structure’s overall footprint size and placement should be similar to the structures on the properties surrounding the lot in question; and the modifications should help preserve natural land form, historical features and/or significant trees and foliage.
The BZA will only approve a use permit if the above circumstances are met, so consider if the proposed addition or structure could be placed in another location or designed differently to avoid needing a use permit. If there is no other option, design the project carefully to meet the BZA’s requirements.
The BZA may impose conditions that it deems necessary in the public interest, including limiting the duration of the use permit. If approved, the use permit must be put into effect within one year of the date of the approval or it shall be null and void.
- The BZA holds a scheduled public hearing on requests for variances and use permits each month (except January) starting at 7 pm in 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Room 307, unless otherwise noticed.
- The BZA Special Exception Use Permit Application must be filed with Zoning Administration for review and processing in accordance with the Board of Zoning Appeals, Variance and Use Permit Filing & Public Hearing Dates schedule. A consent letter from the property owner is required if the applicant is not the current owner. Although you may submit a variance or use permit application at any time, if you are attempting to apply for a particular BZA meeting date a complete application must be filed in accordance with the Board of Zoning Appeals, Variance and Use Permit Filing & Public Hearing Dates schedule. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.
- Early filings and consultation with zoning staff is advisable to determine the nature, need, and suitability of any variance or use permit request.
- County staff takes the following actions: notifying adjacent property owners of the request by mail; posting notices on the property and the immediate neighborhood; ensuring a Public Notice describing each request is published twice in the Washington Times prior to the hearing.
- Applications and required materials will be available for public examination in the Office of the Zoning Administrator, Room 1000, at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard.
Public Hearings Procedures
- Cases are heard in the order they appear on the Public Notice. Hearings are informal in character and Board members may ask questions and comment at any time.
- The “burden of proof” in justifying the variance or use permit is on the applicants. They are heard first. Anyone in support or opposition follows with needed rebuttal time provided for the applicant.
- Speaker slips, for people other than applicants, must be filled out and submitted to the recording secretary prior to the case being called.
- Written statements (six copies) can accompany oral testimony. Photo slides of the property are shown and can be used to describe existing conditions and proposed developments.
- The BZA makes decisions on each case following testimony and discussion. They are effective immediately and may include BZA-imposed modifications and conditions for the approval. Building permit requests can be submitted the next day.
- Deferred cases are usually heard at the next scheduled hearing.
- Variances and use permits granted must be put into effect within one year of approval. Lapsed approvals, changes in construction plans approved by variance, and denied requests can only be resubmitted via a new application.
- Applicants or aggrieved persons can appeal BZA decisions to the Arlington County Circuit Court. This must be done within 30 days of the decision’s filing in the case record.
- If approval is given the applicant(s) must submit four (4) wall check plats to scale certified by a licensed engineer/surveyor after completion of the foundation walls.
- Application (with details about each of the below requirements)
- Disclosure statement
- Statement of justification
- Certified survey plat
- Main building footprint
- Lot coverage
- Architectural drawings
- Neighborhood outreach