New: Variances and Special Use Permits


The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) has the authority to modify certain zoning requirements pertaining to setbacks, building height, etc. due to special characteristics of an individual property. A variance may only be granted when the use of the property would otherwise be unreasonably restricted due to a physical condition of the property or improvements already on the parcel when the ordinance went into effect. It may not permit a change in use. Common variance requests include: 

  • Allowing relief in setback requirements for additions and expansions on a lot which does not meet minimum required dimensional standards, such as lot area or lot width
  • Allowing additions, expansions, and/or alterations to existing nonconforming buildings
  • Allows porches and similar structures to encroach into required yards
  • Allowing relief in maximum building lot or impervious lot coverage

Variances cannot change the zoning of a property or allow a use that is not permitted in a zoning district. Variances cannot grant relief to zoning requirements that are under the special exception purview of the City Council and/or the Planning Commission. 

Special Use Permits 

The BZA has the authority to hear and decide applications to allow certain uses listed as conditional uses in a zoning district. In considering an application, the Board shall give due regard to the nature and condition of all adjacent uses and structures, and the probable effect upon them of the proposed use. 

Application Process and Submission Requirements 

  • The BZA holds a scheduled public hearing each month (except August) starting at 7:30 p.m., unless otherwise noticed.
  • We recommend pre-submission consultation with Zoning Division staff to determine the nature, need, and suitability of any request for a Special Use Permit or Variance.
  • City staff takes the following actions:
    • Notifies adjacent property owners of the request by mail.
    • Publishes Public Notice describing each request twice in the Falls Church News Press two (2) consecutive weeks prior to the week of the hearing.
  • All applications and submitted materials are available for public examination. Requests to review material can be submitted by email: Once an application is accepted as complete, the application and submitted materials will be available online
  • Depending on the project for which a BZA Use Permit/Variance is requested, applicants may also need to apply for other permits, including, but not limited to, a Building Permit. For more information, contact the Permits Counter staff.

BZA Meeting Calendar, Forms and Submission Guidelines