Fairfax County Proposes Changes to Accessory
Dwelling Units & Home-Based Businesses
WHERE WILL THEY ALL PARK?
Why is Fairfax County so determined to dictate new lifestyles to their residents? County homeowners pay some of the highest real estate taxes in the entire country. Should that not entitle them to peaceful enjoyment of their property? Fairfax County has thrust Short Term Rentals and Places of Worship into our residential neighborhoods regardless of the throng of excess parked cars, noise, and visual clutter these have created. NOW they want to allow the construction of two dwellings on single family properties while vastly expanding permitted home based businesses. And, they want to do all of this through administrative action meaning they'll just wave their magic wand of approval without consultation with neighborhoods and their tax paying voters.
If the issue was to expand zoning in newly constructed neighborhoods that would be one thing. What is being forced down our throats (one might even claim under the cloud of Covid-19 darkness since fewer residents are able to keep abreast of these proposals) is retro-fitting this expanded zoning, density and high usage in existing neighborhoods. WHERE WILL EVERYONE PARK? The vast majority of neighborhoods are NOT anywhere close to a Metro Line and Bus service is sketchy at best. Many neighborhoods have been forced to file for resident only parking stickers to control the overflow with the current density. New occupants will have cars! Currently, many neighborhoods are already fighting for parking since only space for 1.5 to 3 cars was required when constructed decades ago. The reality is that most homes have 3 and up to 5 cars each once their teens and college students drive and bring home their driving friends. Parking is a nightmare in so many neighborhoods especially those where commercial vehicles park and hide from citation---of course illegal, but occurring in epidemic proportions cleverly avoiding police and unfettered by county driven reporting, enforcement, or concern.
As part of its Zoning Ordinance Modernization (zMOD) project, Fairfax County is looking for feedback on two uses that are allowed in a dwelling – accessory dwelling units and home-based businesses. In response to current trends, the proposed regulations would streamline the approval process and better address affordability concerns for homeowners and small businesses.
Accessory dwelling units are currently only allowed in single family detached homes in the County with special permit approval by the Board of Zoning Appeals and require an occupant of either the main house or the accessory unit to be over the age of 55 or to be a person with a disability. The proposed regulations would remove the age and disability requirement and update the size limitations from 35% of the size of the principal home to a maximum of 1,200 square feet. For accessory dwelling units located within a home, the proposal replaces today’s special permit and public hearing process with an administrative approval. Detached accessory dwelling units would continue to require at least two acres of land and special permit approval.
The County is also looking at ways to consolidate the different types of home-based businesses. Under current regulations, processes and regulations vary by business type. For example, certain uses, like teaching music lessons or Pilates, allow customers or clients to come to the home with an administrative approval, while others, like accounting, require a costly special permit for customers to come to the home. The proposed regulations would allow certain home-based business owners to apply through an administrative process and could allow up to eight customers in a day (with two to four customers at a time, depending on unit type). Only businesses in single family detached homes would be allowed to have an employee, where no employees would be allowed in all other dwelling types. Applicants who want to have more customers or employees would be required to go through a public hearing process. The proposed regulations and application process would create a more equitable system for home-based business owners.
What is really happening is that real estate assessments will rise considerably on a multi dwelling property as will taxes collected on home based businesses. This is really about money. Arlington County instigated new zoning some time ago and Fairfax does not want to be left out of the windfall. Arlington is tightly landlocked; Fairfax is not. What works in urban Arlington does NOT work for suburban Fairfax....only the greed works.
Take their survey and tell them that home based businesses should only exist on properties over an acre and require on-site parking....NO street parking.
The Department of Planning and Development is seeking input from residents on the proposed changes through a survey. Learn more about the proposed changes by watching two short videos and submit feedback by taking the survey half way down their webpage for both the Multi-Dwelling Units and Home Based Businesses. You can skip the video and just go to the quick survey.
(Copyright © 2012 Annandale Chamber of Commerce. All rights reserved. (Photographs & images, on this page, and on this website, are not available for use by other publications, blogs, individuals, websites, or social media sites.)