Accountability | Collaboration | Transparency in County Government
“Creating a better community for all”
Letter received by constituents from Chairman McKay
of "engagement" may be
different than our idea of
Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the Zoning Ordinance Modernization Project (zMOD). A public hearing on the proposed changes before the Planning Commission occurred on January 28th, with a dedicated meeting for Commissioners to discuss the issue scheduled for February 3rd. The matter is currently scheduled to come to the Board on March 9th for public hearings. This upcoming vote is one part of what has been a much larger process to gather community input.
The advertised draft for Phase 1 of the zMOD project was compiled following an over two-year process, and includes revisions to modernize permitted uses and regulations as well as making a more user-friendly and easy to understand document through the use of charts, graphics, and clear language. These proposed changes were sectioned out and presented to the Board and members of the public across 89 in-person and virtual meetings, with a consolidated draft released in June. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person meetings, zoning staff saw increased attendance and community engagement over the past several months as their informational meetings on the topic were held online and streamed across social media.
This is a substantial project and I understand how community members new to the topic could be alarmed at what could be included in the document. However, I think it is important to stress that although the ordinance is 700+ pages (consolidated significantly from the previous ordinance in place since 1978), much of this text is a rework of existing language to make it easier for residents to navigate. For Accessory Living Units and home-based businesses, two topics contained in the ordinance that have received substantial community attention, the current trends have shown major gaps in how our current ordinance addresses these matters. Many homeowners and small-business owners have found themselves in a County zoning violation through practices that are permitted throughout our neighboring jurisdictions. These proposed changes look at how the County can offer flexibility to residents and some consistency with our closest surrounding jurisdictions and at the same time build in reasonable protections for neighborhoods.
I hear the fears that reducing the barriers to accessory living units and home-based businesses would threaten the character of single-family residential communities. The administrative or special permits required for either have specific regulations that must be met prior to approval. These regulations include square footage, parking, and guest/customer limitations. The permits also require the granting of inspections to our Department of Code Compliance. The County would be able to monitor for compliance, with any violations or disruption weighed when the permit must be renewed after two years.
Further, it is important to note that the County is not involved in private HOA covenants. These covenants may be more strict, but not more permissive, than the regulations set forth in the Zoning Ordinance.
More information about the priorities of zMOD and in-depth explanations of each of the proposed changes can be found on the County’s dedicated zMOD website here.
I have been pleased to see robust community participation in the zMOD process thus far, and look forward to continued conversations on the proposed draft. I will certainly keep your feedback in mind as the Board of Supervisors continues to receive public feedback on the zMOD project.
Jeffrey C. McKay
If you ace us out of land use now, will YOU be pleased at 2023 election?
For full version of quotes please use the following links:
* video.fairfaxcounty.gov/player/clip/1789?view_id=9&redirect=true - TimeStamp 43:46.
** video.fairfaxcounty.gov/player/clip/1789?view_id=9&redirect=true - TimeStamp 34:17
But Jeff, you knew in
2020 committee meetings
that zMOD would pass in March ’21 AND take effect on July 1, 2021.
Virtual meetings limit attendees AND Understanding
Hostage rules for some meetings included:
- No questions read by curious
- No follow-up questions
- No attendee lists shown
- No free flowing chats
How are HOAs supposed
to function in the dark when they aren't told what staff-controlled “permits” have been issued?
Whose interests are you serving by taking away control of our neighborhoods?
Oh, Jeff! We agree with you here!
But not there.
The thing is we are NOT NEW to the topic... Even for those familiar, many draft details are confusing or incomplete.
How does the density increase impact existing septic systems including dangerous chemicals from HBB? Why was THAT not thoroughly analyzed?
Above all, eliminating public hearings
is a betrayal of public trust.