Section 7. Land Use

Land use describes the type of activity that can occur on a parcel of land, such as commercial, residential, or industrial functions. City Council can affect land use through its ability to review development applications, adopt area plans, set policy goals, and more.

The following information touches on different aspects of government work that tie into land use in the City.

Land Development Process

The land development process in the City of Falls Church is a system of applications, permitting, licensing, and other review processes used to facilitate development that complies with the City Code and the City's Comprehensive Plan. It covers everything from home renovation projects to building a mixed use development. Each project is unique and requires different approaches depending on the location and complexities of the project. 

The City’s Planning staff supports the land development process and helps the City Manager to manage policy decisions and approvals that are within the City Council’s purview.

More information on the process can be found here.

Development Projects Updates

The City's Planning Office maintains web pages for major land development projects in the City so the public can follow along with the process.

The projects webpage can be found here.

Planning Commission

The Planning Commission studies and recommends changes to the City's Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code and reviews all site plans to ensure consistency with the plan. Annually, the commission prepares and revises a five year capital improvements program, including capital budget recommendations. The Planning Commission makes recommendations on the preservation of historical landmarks, and design of public bridges, street fixtures, and other public structures and appurtenances. The Planning Commission advises the City Council and the City Manager.

The Planning Commission webpage can be found here.

Comprehensive Plan

The Comprehensive Plan is a long range plan that looks 20-25 years into the future. The plan includes an overarching vision for the city and guidance for different topics, including land use, economic development, community character, natural resources, parks and recreation, transportation, housing, and historic preservation.

The most recent Comprehensive Plan can be found here.

Zoning Ordinance

The Zoning Ordinance is part of the City Code that divides land in the city into districts according to its land use. The resulting districts feature specific building regulations that may touch on requirements regarding height, impervious surface coverage, sidewalk width, and other details. Along with state law and the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance provides the legal framework for land use decisions made by the Planning Commission and City Council.

The full text of the Zoning Ordinance can be found in the City Code here.

State Law

Chapter 22 of the Virginia Code discusses the subjects of planning, subdivision of land, and zoning. It defines these terms and establishes mechanisms that localities can use to engage with these concepts, such as mandating the presence of planning commissions. This chapter also encourages localities to engage with land use and community planning to improve the public health, safety, convenience, and welfare of their citizens and to plan for the future development of communities.

Chapter 22 of the State Code can be found here.