What is a Special Permit?

Church_RenderA Special Permit is for a use or structure that is not allowed as a matter of right, but may be permitted, if certain standards defined in the Zoning Ordinance are met. The purpose of a Special Permit is to carefully review uses which need extra deliberation to ensure the surrounding area is not adversely impacted. Article 3 of the Zoning Ordinance lists the uses that require a Special Permit. 

Special Permit applications in Fauquier County go through a public hearing process with the Board of Zoning Appeals. The Board of Zoning Appeals makes the decision on whether the Special Permit application is approved (with or without conditions), denied, or deferred for further consideration.

For a brief summary please see our Special Permit Brochure.

Special Permit Process

1. Pre-submission Meeting

  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to call Planning Staff at 540-422-8210 to discuss their Special Permit application before submission. The Pre-submission meeting will allow staff to provide initial guidance to the Applicant regarding the project, and outline the regulatory/approval process(es) applicable to the proposed development.

2. Formal Application

  • The application must be filed no later than 35 calendar days prior to the Board of Zoning Appeals’ meeting. The Board of Zoning Appeals meets the first Thursday of each month in the Warren Green Building at 10 Hotel Street, Warrenton, Virginia, 20186. Filing deadlines can be found on the Board of Zoning Appeals’ webpage.
  • No application for a Special Permit or Special Exception for any proposal including a residential use shall be filed when a Rezoning or Zoning Ordinance text amendment is required. Such related zoning map amendment or zoning text amendment shall be approved by the Board before any related application may be filed.

Special Permit Application Submission Requirements:

  • Land Development Application with original signatures
  • Fee - Categories 9-22 $800, all other Special Permits $500; additional Special Permit uses $300. If multiple uses are requested, a fee for each use is required.
  • Special Permit Checklist
  • 16 copies of a Statement of Justification including all information listed in the submission checklist.
  • 16 copies of plat showing conditions and proposed improvements.
  • 16 copies of any photographs, documents or other supporting materials submitted.
  • A traffic impact analysis (TIA) or a traffic assessment as per Section 301B of the Design Standards Manual.
  • Flash drive containing individual PDFs of all submission materials - do not include any financial information (i.e., copy of checks or the fee calculation sheet).
  • Posting Affidavit (detailed in Public Hearing section)

 3. Board of Zoning Appeals Public Hearing

  • After an application has been accepted, it will be reviewed by various County and State agencies.  Staff will send letters to adjoining property owners notifying them of the Board of Zoning Appeals' meeting. The applicant is required to post notice signs (prepared by staff) on the property at least 15 days prior to the Board of Zoning Appeals' hearing date, and then to provide an affidavit to staff showing that the posting was done at the required time.
  • Staff will prepare a report on the application. This staff report will be provided to the Board of Zoning Appeals, with a copy to the applicant in advance of the meeting.  Copies for public review are available in the Planning Office.
  • The day of the Board of Zoning Appeals' meeting, a work session is typically held, and applicants are encouraged to attend.
  • The Board of Zoning Appeals holds its public hearing in the afternoon, starting at 2:00 p.m. The applicant and public will have the opportunity to speak at the hearing.
  • After the public hearing is held, the BZA can approve (with or without conditions), deny, or defer the item for further consideration. If the BZA defers the item, it will be brought back at a future meeting date for action.

Special Permit Renewal or Extension

1. Administrative Renewal or Extension

  • The Administrative Renewal process is available to an applicant if the approved Special Permit specifies that it may be renewed administratively by the Zoning Administrator. An application for Administrative Renewal is required to be submitted 30-60 days prior to the expiration of the permit. Failure to timely file for a renewal will result in the permit expiring, requiring a new permit to be approved through the public hearing process.

Submission Requirements:

  • Land Development Application with original signatures
  • $150 Fee
  • Statement of Intent
  • Assessment of Compliance with existing conditions. (For each condition of the Special Permit, provide information on how and when the condition was met.)
  • Flash drive containing individual PDFs of all submission materials - do not include any financial information (i.e., copy of checks or the fee calculation sheet).

2. Board of Zoning Appeals Renewal or Extension

  • Any permit which does not specifically authorize the Zoning Administrator to renew it can only be renewed or extended by approval of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). The process for renewal/extension by the BZA is the same as the process for a new permit, see above.

Submission Requirements:

  • Land Development Application with original signatures
  • Fee - Categories 9-22 $800, all other Special Permits $500; additional Special Permit uses $300. If multiple uses are requested, a fee for each use is required.
  • Special Permit Checklist signed by the surveyor or engineer (if applicable)
  • 10 copies of Statement of Justification
  • Assessment of Compliance with existing conditions. (For each condition of the Special Permit, provide information on how and when the condition was met.)
  • 16 copies of Special Permit Plat (folded).
  • 16 copies of any photographs, documents or other supporting materials submitted.
  • Flash drive containing individual PDFs of all submission materials - do not include any financial information (i.e., copy of checks or the fee calculation sheet).
  • Posting Affidavit (detailed in Public Hearing section)

FAQs

  • What is a Special Permit?
  • When do I need a Special Permit?
  • How do I apply for a Special Permit?
  • How long is a Special Permit valid?
  • How can I learn more about the Special Permit process?
  • How can I learn more about the Board of Zoning Appeals?
  • When does the BZA meet?
  • How can I learn more about the BZA?
  • How can I appeal a decision by the Zoning Administrator?
  • Where does the BZA meet?
  • What is the Board of Zoning Appeals?
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