Fairfax County To Drop ‘Servants Quarters’ and More in Zoning Modernization Process

If you’re looking for a place to house your servants, watchman and tenant farmers, there’s good news — Fairfax is in the middle of a process to simplify its complex and humorously outdated zoning code.

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Development Process Committee meeting yesterday (May 14), the committee reviewed a series of proposed changes to modernize the zoning code — a process dubbed zMOD.

During the meeting, a consultant working on the modernization said Fairfax County’s zoning wasn’t the most labyrinthine he’d seen, but it was close.

Much of the process involves consolidating a wide array of residential classifications — like dormitories, fraternity/sorority houses, rooming/boarding houses, etc. — into a single use, like “residence hall.” Servants quarters and housing for tenant farmers in Fairfax are now grouped together as “caretaker quarters.”

But the regulations also add new zoning uses to the code as well, like electric vehicle charging or solar collection systems.

At the meeting, staff said part of the new zoning would include extensive modifications to accessory dwelling unit (ADU) zoning. These are dwelling units designed as separate from the primary residence.

Currently, all ADUs require a special use permit, but under the new regulations, an administrative approval could be obtained if the unit is located entirely within the main residence — like a basement separate from the main house.

The zMOD process is scheduled to be presented as a consolidated draft to the Board of Supervisors in July. Work is expected to continue on the zMOD process throughout 2019 with public hearings on the final draft in spring and summer 2020.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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