The Embark Richmond Highway Advisory Group met for its 16th meeting on April 24th. The Advisory Group reviewed a 2040 transportation land use analysis prepared by FCDOT. FCDOT estimates ridership of the proposed bus rapid transit system will reach 18,000 daily trips under the land use plan the Advisory Group is considering. The Advisory Group also heard presentations on heritage resources, parks and recreation, and stormwater management from various Fairfax County staff members. Sightlines from historic structures and open space were discussed as issues in need of further consideration as the planning process moves forward. Staff still anticipates releasing a draft plan in September and public hearings in January/February 2018.


On the eve of its 40th birthday, Fairfax County has kicked off a Zoning Ordinance Modernization effort to analyze and update its current ordinance, which was originally adopted in 1978. The modernization efforts are part of the County’s Fairfax First initiative for economic success.  The effort is being led by Barbara Byron, the Director of the Office of Community Revitalization.

With the help of outside consultants, County staff is kicking off efforts to streamline and update the ordinance. A major goal of the effort is to reformat and restructure the ordinance to make it more user friendly.  This includes creating more table, charts, and graphics to increase the ordinance’s functionality and usability.  The modernization effort will also focus on processing prioritized amendments of County-wide impact.  The initial list of prioritized amendments include:

  • Minor Modification Provisions
  • PDH Districts
  • Use Categories and Definitions
  • Signs
  • Special Exceptions for Building Repurposing

The final area of focus is on improvements to ordinance amendments and other zoning process. Those efforts will focus on how amendments are authorized by the Board of Supervisors and how effective outreach and communication to stakeholders is achieved.

A new initiative to provide better proffer compliance tracking has launched in Fairfax County. The initiative requires applicants to submit a standalone proffer compliance matrix beginning at the first site plan submission.  That matrix is required to be updated as a development project moves through building plan review, occupancy, and bond release.  The overall goal of the new process is to create clarity for developers and Fairfax County regarding the status of a project’s proffer compliance.

The new proffer compliance requirements go into effect on June 27, 2017. If you have any questions about the new process contact Scott Adams at

Fairfax County Technical Bulletin



March 28, 2017 – 10:00am – Government Center Conference Room 11


  1. Zoning Ordinance Modernization (45 minutes)
    • Diagnostic review of the Zoning Ordinance to determine its ability to meet modern needs
    • Barbara Byron, Director, Office of Community Revitalization
  2. Fairfax First Initiative: Parking Requirements and Reductions (30 minutes)
    • Continuation of the discussion on an update to the Zoning Ordinance to streamline the process for Parking Reductions
    • John Friedman, Engineer IV, Land Development Services
  3. LDS/DPWES Budget (30 minutes)
    • Development Process FY2018 Budget Considerations
    • Bill Hicks, Director, Land Development Services
  4. Adjournment

The next Development Process Committee meeting is scheduled for May 9, 2017, at 3:00 p.m.

Fairfax County has jumped into the craft beverage game by creating new zoning rules that make it more attractive for craft beverage production establishments, including breweries, wineries, and distilleries, to operate in the county. The new zoning ordinance provisions were adopted by the Board of Supervisors on February 28 and are now in effect.  Under the new ordinance, smaller scale producers are expressly permitted in certain commercial zoning districts and most industrial and planned development zoning districts.  McGuireWoods is proud to have been the only firm that advocated during the public hearing process for additional flexibility in production limits and operations of these types of establishments. Those changes were incorporated into the final approved zoning ordinance amendment.

The maximum permitted annual production varies by zoning district, with a range of between 5,000-20,000 barrels of beer or 5,000-36,000 gallons of distilled spirits, wine, cider, or mead per year. While craft beverage production establishments are permitted by right in many districts, they may still require additional zoning actions in most cases. If a property has existing zoning approvals limiting potential uses, then an amendment to that approval will still be required before a craft beverage production establishment can be opened.

If you have questions regarding how the zoning ordinance impacts your property or if you are looking at potential brewery, distillery, or winery sites in Fairfax County, contact sadams@mcguirewoods for additional information.


The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently adopted a Policy Plan Amendment that will potentially open industrial planned areas County-wide by providing additional FAR for Data Center and Self-Storage uses.  This much needed amendment, which was adopted and developed largely in response to concerns raised by McGuireWoods for a key client, creates a new policy that allows the Board to increase the potential FAR to a 1.0 for these uses based largely on the lower-impact these uses generate in terms of traffic and County services.  The amendment requires a development site be located in an industrially planned and zoned district and meet certain criteria involving transportation, noise mitigation, building design, lot size or parcel consolidation, and site design in order to achieve the greater intensity. The text of the new amendment can be found here:


Please contact any member of the McGuireWoods team if you have questions about how this amendment may apply to a site.

On June 21 the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved amendments to the Planned Residential Multi-Family (PRM) and Planned Development Commercial (PDC) zoning districts, along with changes to Community Revitalization District (CRD) and Community Business Center (CBC) requirements. The amendments will help implement existing Comprehensive Plan recommendations for increased FARs in limited locations and provide flexibility similar implementation of future Comprehensive Plan recommendations.  The approved amendment increases potential FARs in Transit Station Areas (TSAs) to 5.0 and permits up to a 4.0 FAR in CRDs and CBCs, with the exception of the McLean CBC.  The amendment also provides for additional uses in the PRM and PDC zoning districts and clarifies requirements for parking reductions.  Additionally, the amendment includes changes related to fast food restaurants in the PDC and PRM districts.

The zoning ordinance amendments are now in effect.

If you have any questions regarding the impact of the adopted ordinance amendments, do not hesitate to contact Scott Adams at

On March 29th, Fairfax County held a kick off meeting to start the Dulles Suburban Center Planning Study.  Members of the McGuireWoods team were present. 

 The Dulles Suburban Center extends generally south from the Dulles Toll Road through the entirely of the Route 28 corridor to Westfields and points south.  The study area includes thousands of acres of very strategic real estate.  This planning study represents an important opportunity to add value to land that has generally not been evaluated in planning and zoning processes for decades. Much of this real estate has historically been planned and zoned exclusively for office uses.  The study is a timely and overdue opportunity to reevaluate planning and zoning recommendations based on the well documented shift in the demands for office and the concurrent recognition of the benefits of a broader mix of uses.  

 Procedurally, the County has established a May 31st deadline to submit nominations for land use changes within the study area.  Such nominations can be made by owners and potential developers and contract purchasers.  There is no fee to make such a nomination.  We encourage owners and developers to  take a careful and strategic look at potential opportunities in this important corridor.



Fairfax County has rolled out a long awaited draft Zoning Ordinance Amendment related to the PDC and PRM Districts and the Commercial Revitalization District (CRD), Commercial Revitalization Area (CRA), Community Business Center (CBC) and Transit Station Area (TSA) regulations.  The proposed amendments help implement the recent Comprehensive Plan Amendments in the Dulles Corridor and other revitalization districts and make substantive changes that will assist in redeveloping the County’s revitalization districts.  Overall, the proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendment should be a net positive for development in Fairfax County.

Highlights of the Zoning Ordinance Amendment include:

  • Density: Allow the Board to increase the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) in the PDC and PRM Districts from 2.5 and 3.0, respectively, to not more than 5.0 FAR when the development is in a CRD (Baileys Crossroads, Seven Corners, Annandale, Route 1, McLean, and Springfield), CRA (Lake Anne and Merrifield), CBC or TSA. Delete the provisions in PDC that require certain features like increased open space, unique design features, below grade parking, etc. in order to increase FAR above the base level. The actual maximum FAR for a specific parcel would be subject to any further limitation set forth in the comprehensive plan recommendation for such parcel(s).
  • Minimum Yard Requirements: Clarify that the Board can reduce minimum yard requirements in CRDs, CRAs, CBCs and TSAs to implement design criteria within the Plan or other endorsed design guidelines.
  • New Permitted Uses: Expand the permitted uses in the PDC and PRM Districts. Add commercial recreation restaurants (Dave & Busters, ESPN Zone, etc.) to the list of permitted secondary uses in the PDC and PRM Districts to better accommodate businesses such as ESPN Zone and Dave and Busters and remove the use limitation that limits patrons to 18 and over unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. Add fast food restaurants to the list of permitted secondary uses in the PDC District when located in a residential building and specify that such request can occur by way of approval of the final development plan, rather than the current process of special exception.
  • Parking Reductions: Add a new provision that highlights a variety of parking reductions are allowed in the PDC and PRM Districts when a parking reduction furthers a goal of the comprehensive plan. Clarify that the Board can reduce parking in areas served by a mass transit station, transportation facility, or sufficient high-frequency bus service. Allow the Board to reduce parking by up to 20% for non-residential and mixed-use projects in a CRD.
  • Cellar Space: Add a new provision to the PDC and PRM Districts to count cellar space as gross floor area for purposes of calculating FAR.

For questions about the current status of the Zoning Ordinance Amendment or the impact on specific properties, please contact Scott Adams,

McGuireWoods clients Elm Street Development and The Alexander Company, along with Fairfax County, celebrated the December 7, 2015 groundbreaking of Liberty Crest at Laurel Hill.  The project is a public private partnership to develop the former Lorton Reformatory and Penitentiary into a vibrant mixed-use project.  Upon complete build-out, the 78 acre project will contain a mixture of residential and non-residential uses within adaptively re-used historic prison buildings, along with newly constructed townhomes, single-family detached homes, and retail buildings.