What is zoning?
Zoning provides the standards and regulations of how properties can be lawfully used and developed in the county. Zoning is implemented by the County’s Zoning Ordinance, which can be viewed and purchased at the County’s Permit Center. Every property in Henrico has a zoning classification and the zoning on your property depends on your location. To find your zoning, you may:

  • Visit The Permit Center on the second floor of the Administration Building, Government Center, 4301 East Parham Road. Or, you can call 804-501-7280 (Permit Center) or 804-501-4602 (Planning Department).
  • Visit the Eastern Government Center at 3820 Nine Mile Road or call 804-652-3600.
  • Visit our Web site at http://www.co.henrico.va.us/maps/.

The Henrico County Zoning Ordinance (Chapter 24 of the County Code) is also available online.

 

What is a rezoning?
Rezoning is a process whereby the Board of Supervisors approves a request to change the zoning classification of a piece of property or properties in order to develop or use the land for purposes other than what is permitted by the current zoning classification. The property owner or his/her representative with a Power of Attorney may request either a conventional rezoning or a conditional rezoning.

A conventional request proposes to change the existing zoning district classification to another classification that permits the proposed use. A conditional request permits the same action as a conventional request but it allows the owner to voluntarily proffer (offer) conditions that may enhance the proposal or address concerns of nearby property owners.

Proffers are similar to covenants, in that they “run” with the land. However, once they have been accepted by the Board of Supervisors, changing proffers requires submitting a proffer amendment request and public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

 

If a neighbor is operating a home-based business, how do I report what I believe is a residential zoning violation?
Whether or not there is a violation will depend on the individual neighborhood zoning and on the type of business being operated out of the home. Each complaint is viewed on a case-by-case basis. An inspector will visit the site to determine if there are any violations. You can call Community Maintenance at (804) 501-4757, to register a complaint or ask a question.

 

Where do I apply for a rezoning application or a Provisional Use Permit (PUP)?
Applications for rezoning or Provisional Use Permits are available at online (in PDF) or you may pick up application forms at the County’s Permit Center and Planning Department located at: Administration Building, Government Center located in 4301 East Parham Road or at the Eastern Government Center located in 3820 Nine Mile Road.

 

What does the Board of Supervisors consider in reviewing a rezoning request?
The Board of Supervisors considers various factors, such as:

  • Is the request consistent with the County’s Land Use Plan?
  • Could development allowed by the request be expected to be reasonably compatible with existing development?
  • Would approval of the request be consistent with other decisions to approve requests for similar uses and sites?
  • Can a need for the change be established?
  • Is the change consistent with the orderly development and growth of the community?
  • Does the change conform to the County’s plan for major street development?
  • Will the change adversely affect or impede the normal flow of traffic?
  • Will the change constitute spot zoning?
  • Will the change adversely affect the value of surrounding property?
  • Is the change in conflict with the county’s plan for future land use?

What is a variance and when should one be approved?
A variance is an approval of the size of a lot, or the size or location of a structure, that does not meet the requirements of the zoning ordinance. The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), a body of five citizens appointed by the Circuit Court, may grant a variance if they find that, because of some unusual characteristic of the property, a strict application of the zoning ordinance would result in a hardship so severe that it was almost the same as taking the property.

Before a variance can be granted, the applicant (usually the owner of the property) must show the zoning regulations “actually prohibit or unreasonably restrict” the use of the property, or that there is a “hardship approaching confiscation”. In other words, it must be impossible or unreasonable to use the property without the variance. Mere convenience, or a desire to maximize profit, does not justify a variance. If the applicant caused the hardship, the hardship is considered “self-imposed,” and a variance is not justified.

The Supreme Court of Virginia has determined that “[t]he threshold question for the BZA in considering an application for variance as well as for a court reviewing its decision, is whether the effect of the zoning ordinance upon the property under consideration, as it stands, interferes will ‘all reasonable beneficial uses of the property, taken as a whole.’ If the answer is in the negative, the BZA has no authority to go further.” The board has no authority to grant a variance where the owner is able to make reasonable beneficial use of the property without it. The BZA can grant a variance only if the applicant demonstrates that the zoning ordinance interferes with all reasonable beneficial uses of the property.

If the board finds evidence of a hardship approaching confiscation, it must consider three other factors. There must be some exceptional condition of size, shape or topography; the variance must not cause substantial detriment to adjacent property; and the circumstances must not be shared generally by other properties in the vicinity.