A rezoning, sometimes referred to as a “zoning amendment,” is a change in zoning district or conditions of use (including density) for a property or properties, as detailed in Sections 14-1 through 14-10 of the Zoning Ordinance Opens in New Window . When a rezoning application requests to reduce the density or intensity of uses on a property (regardless whether the zoning district is proposes to be changed), this is often referred to as a “downzoning.” Conversely, when a rezoning application requests to increase the density or intensity of uses on a property (regardless whether the zoning district is proposes to be changed), this is often referred to as an “upzoning.” A rezoning application should only be approved if the Board of Supervisors finds that it supports the public health, safety, and welfare. Rezoning applications that propose a relatively small property to be reclassified to a zoning district different from all adjacent properties, does not support the public health, safety, and welfare of the overall community, and is not consistent with the adopted Comprehensive Plan could be considered an unlawful “spot zoning.”
Rezoning applications may be accompanied by proffers, which are conditions of use voluntarily offered by the rezoning applicant that apply to the property (or properties) to be rezoned and are associated with the rezoning request. Proffers continue into perpetuity (run with the land) regardless of property ownership transfer and, therefore, continue to apply to the property (or properties) even if an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance or enactment of a new Zoning Ordinance results in a change in the regulations associated with the underlying zoning district. Modifications to proffers associated with a rezoning application are often referred to as a “proffer amendment.” However, proffer amendments are considered rezonings since they change the regulations applicable to a piece of property and, therefore, proceed through the same process. Public Hearings may be waived for proffer amendments that do not change the density or conditions of use. However, the Planning Commission must recommend the waiver of the Public Hearing and the Board must approve the waiver along with the proffer amendment.
Prior to applying for a Rezoning, interested parties must meet with Planning and Zoning staff for a mandatory Pre-Application Meeting to discuss the perceived impacts of the proposed use and Comprehensive Plan guidance for the property the use is proposed on. During this meeting, staff works to identify any challenges that may arise from the application and provides direction and resources for how the applicant may seek to address any perceived challenges.
Following the Pre-Application Meeting, a Rezoning Application (with the accompanying $1,200 plus $10 per acre or fraction thereof fee) can be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning for review by staff, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors. Staff from the County, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and other applicable agencies will review the application and, following this review, Planning and Zoning staff will prepare a Staff Report to be presented to the Planning Commission at a Public Hearing.
Within 100 days of the first Commission meeting following staff’s referral of a complete application to the Planning Commission Opens in New Window , a Public Hearing before this body will be scheduled, a legal noticed placed in the local paper for two consecutive weeks prior to the meeting, and all adjoining property owners will be notified by mail not less than five days prior to the meeting. During this Public Hearing, staff will present the application to the Commission with their summarized analysis and recommendation, the applicant can speak before the Commission, and the public has the opportunity to comment on the application. Although the Planning Commission may discuss the application during their Public Hearing, the Commission acts as an advisory body to the Board of Supervisors and will make a recommendation for approval, approval with modifications, or denial of the application to the Board with any additional recommendations, if necessary.
Once the Board of Supervisors Opens in New Window has received the Planning Commission’s recommendation, a Public Hearing before this body will be scheduled. A legal notice will be placed in the local paper for two consecutive weeks, but the adjoining property owners are not directly notified of this Public Hearing. Similar to the Planning Commission’s Public Hearing, staff will present the application to the Board with their summarized analysis and recommendation along with the Planning Commission’s recommendation, the applicant can speak before the Board, and the public has the opportunity to comment on the application. At this Public Hearing or a subsequent meeting (but within one year from the filing date of the application), the Board will decide to approve or deny the application.
Forms for the Pre-Application Meeting and Rezoning Application can be found on the department’s Forms and Policies page Opens in New Window . Comprehensive Plan guidance for rezoning of property within the County can be found on the department’s Comprehensive Plan page Opens in New Window .
Additional Procedures for Special Districts
The Manufactured Home District (MH-1) and Planned Unit Development District (PUD-1) contain additional procedures for rezoning requests for these districts. These procedures include both development standards, such as density, streets, and buffering, as well as process requirements, such as Preliminary/Master Plan review. Additional procedures for the MH-1 District can be found within Article 7 of the Zoning Ordinance Opens in New Window . Additional procedures for the PUD-1 District can be found within Article 8 of the Zoning Ordinance Opens in New Window .