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Building & Zoning – Zoning Ordinance - Article 11

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ARTICLE 11. DEFINITIONS

Sec. 11-1. Applicability of article. 

     For the purposes of this Ordinance, certain words and terms shall be interpreted as set forth in this article, unless otherwise specifically prescribed elsewhere in this Ordinance. Words and terms not defined herein shall be interpreted in accord with such normal dictionary meaning or customary usage as is appropriate to the context. 

Sec. 11-2. Rules of interpretation. 

     The following general rules of interpretation shall apply throughout this Ordinance as they are appropriate to the context of specific provisions:

  1. The word "person" includes a firm, association, organization, partnership, trust, company or corporation, as well as an individual.
     

  2. The present tense includes the future tense; the singular number includes the plural; and the plural number includes the singular.
     

  3. The word "shall" is mandatory, and the word "may" is permissive.
     

  4. The words "used" or "occupied" include the words "intended, designed, or arranged to be used or occupied."
     

  5. The words "building" or "structure" include any part thereof, and the word "building" includes the word "structure."
     

  6. The terms "main" and "principal" are used herein as synonymous.
     

  7. The word "land" includes the words "water" and "marsh."

Sec. 11-3. Certain words defined.

     The following words and terms shall be interpreted as having much meaning as set forth herein, unless a specific meaning to the contrary is indicated elsewhere in this Ordinance:

  1. Accessory building. A building used for purposes customarily incidental and clearly subordinate to the principal use of the lot on which it is located.
     

  2. Accessory use. A use of land or a use of a building for purposes customarily incidental and clearly subordinate to the principal use of the lot on which it is located.
     

  3. Alley. A public way affording or intended to afford secondary means of vehicular access to abutting properties and situated along the side or rear of such properties.
     

  4. Auto service center. An establishment for the servicing and minor repair of motor vehicles within enclosed service bays, or stalls, and which may include the dispensing of motor fuels and related products at retail and the sale of minor automobile parts and accessories such as tires, batteries, spark plugs, fan belts, shock absorbers, mirrors, floor mats, cleaning and polishing materials and similar items. Auto service center shall not include any establishment engaging in general auto or truck repair, body repair or painting, welding, frame straightening, tire recapping or vulcanizing, storage of wrecked vehicles or any operation involving the installation or removal of engines, cylinder heads, crankcases, radiators, transmissions, differentials, fenders, doors, bumpers or other major body or mechanical parts.
     

  5. Automobile graveyard. Any area outside of a completely enclosed building used for the storage, keeping or parking of five (5) or more motor vehicles of any kind, incapable of being operated and not economically practical to make operative.
     

  6. Auto service station. An establishment for the dispensing of motor fuels and related products at retail and having pumps, underground storage tanks and other facilities for such activity, and which may include the retail sale of minor automobile parts and accessories such as tires, batteries, spark plugs, fan belts, shock absorbers, mirrors, floor mats, cleaning and polishing materials and similar items, and which may include the inspection, servicing or minor repair of motor vehicles in enclosed service bays or stalls. An auto service station shall not include any establishment engaging in general auto or truck repair, body repair or painting, welding, storage of wrecked vehicles or any operation involving the installation or removal of engines, cylinder heads, crankcases, radiators, transmissions, differentials, fenders, doors, bumpers or other major body or mechanical parts.
     

  7. Bed and breakfast facility. A facility within an owner-occupied single-family dwelling for the housing of persons on a transient basis for not more than seven (7) consecutive nights; containing not more than two (2) lodging units for such persons, which units are provided with private baths; and within such facility no meals other than breakfast are served to guests.
     

  8. Board of supervisors. The governing body of Wise County, Virginia.
     

  9. Board of zoning appeals. The Board of Zoning Appeals of Wise County, the composition and powers of which are set forth in Article 9 of this Ordinance.
     

  10. Buildable area. The area of a lot, excluding the area of the minimum front, side and rear yards required by the provisions of this Ordinance.
     

  11. Building. A combination of any materials, whether portable or fixed, that forms a structure for use or occupancy by persons or property.
     

  12. Building official. The official designated by the board of supervisors to enforce the provisions of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code within the jurisdiction of Wise County.
     

  13. Child care center. Any facility operated for the purpose of providing care, protection and guidance to a group of more than five (5) children separated from their parents or guardians during a portion of the day, not including children of a family residing on the premises. The term child care center shall include family day care homes as licensed by the state.
     

  14. Completely enclosed building. A building enclosed on all sides and having no outside openings other than ordinary doors, windows and means of ventilation.
     

  15. Development site. All of the land developed or intended to be developed for single-family attached dwellings and related accessory uses, structures and facilities, when such land is contiguous and under single ownership or control for purposes of planning and initial development. A development site shall include the individual lots on which attached dwellings are or will be located, as well as all open spaces, parking areas, driveways, recreational facilities, community areas and other areas owned or to be owned in common by owners of individual lots within the development.
     

  16. Dwelling, multifamily. A building which contains three (3) or more dwelling units.
     

  17. Dwelling, single-family attached. A building which contains one dwelling unit located on an individual lot of record and which is attached by means of party walls in a series of two (2) or more buildings, each of which contains one (1) dwelling unit and is located on a separate lot of record. A building meeting the terms of this definition and commonly known as a "townhouse" shall be considered a single-family attached dwelling for purposes of this Ordinance.
     

  18. Dwelling, single-family. A building which is completely separated from any other main building and which contains only one (1) dwelling unit, as distinguished from a single-family attached dwelling.
     

  19. Dwelling, two-family. A building which contains two (2) dwelling units.
     

  20. Dwelling unit. A room or group of rooms within a building and constituting a separate and independent housekeeping unit occupied or intended for occupancy by one (1) family and containing kitchen, sleeping and sanitary facilities. The term "dwelling unit" shall include a manufactured home, but shall not include a recreational vehicle or room or group of rooms within a hotel, motel, tourist home or lodginghouse.
     

  21. Dwelling use. Any principal use containing dwelling or lodging units which are not generally available for occupancy for periods of less than one (1) week, as distinguished from units located within hotels, motels and similar facilities intended for transient occupancy.
     

  22. Family. One (1) or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption, including foster children, or not more than five (5) unrelated persons occupying a single dwelling unit. Domestic servants or employees residing on the premises shall be considered as part of a family. The term "family" shall not be construed to include a fraternity, sorority, club or a group of persons occupying a hotel, motel, tourist home, lodginghouse or institution of any kind, but shall include the occupants of a group home as defined in this article.
     

  23. Floor area. The sum of the horizontal areas of all usable floors of a building as measured from the exterior faces of exterior walls and including all intervening walls, partitions, hallways, corridors, lobbies, and stairways. Floor area shall not include unenclosed porches, balconies, carports, garages, or basement or attic areas which are not improved for use in conjunction with the principal use of the building.
     

  24. Frontage. That portion of a lot abutting a street and being situated between the lot lines intersecting the street; also referred to as street frontage.
     

  25. Group home. A residential facility in which not more than eight (8) mentally ill, mentally retarded, or other developmentally disabled persons reside, with one (1) or more resident counselors or other staff persons, the purpose of such facility being to provide to its occupants the benefits of normal residential surroundings to achieve optimal assimilation into the community. The term "group home" shall include family care homes or foster homes and any other residential facility for which the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services is the licensing authority under state law, but shall not include residential facilities the principal purpose of which is to provide emergency shelter, or to provide diagnostic or treatment services for persons currently suffering illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance as defined in section 54.1-3401 of the Code of Virginia.
     

  26. Health official. The official designated to enforce the requirements of the state department of health.
     

  27. Height. The vertical distance measured from the average of the lowest and highest elevations of the finished grades immediately adjacent to a building to the highest point of a flat roof, mansard roof or parapet, or to the midpoint of a gable, hip or shed roof, or to the highest point of any structure having no roof.
     

  28. Home business. An occupation, profession, enterprise or business activity conducted within a single-family dwelling which is the residence of the principal practitioner, or conducted within an accessory building located on the same lot and clearly accessory to the dwelling. In order to qualify as a home business, an activity as described herein must be clearly secondary to the principal dwelling use of the premises and must meet all of the following criteria, which are intended to distinguish such activity from a home occupation as defined in this article and from other business uses:
     

    1. Not more than twenty-five (25) percent of the floor area of the main building shall be devoted to such activity;
       

    2. Not more than one (1) person who does not reside on the premises shall be employed on the premises in the conduct of the activity;
       

    3. There shall be no signs, other than one (1) sign not to exceed six (6) square feet in area, and no displays or alterations to the exterior of the building that would distinguish it as being devoted to any nondwelling use; and
       

    4. There shall be no group instruction or assembly, no housing of persons for compensation, and no product offered for sale or stored other than that which is produced on the premises or which may be incidental to the primary service rendered.
       

  29. Home occupation. An occupation, profession, enterprise or similar activity conducted within a dwelling unit which is the residence of the practitioner, or conducted within an accessory building located on the same lot and clearly incidental to the dwelling unit. In order to qualify as a home occupation, an activity as described herein must be clearly secondary to the principal dwelling use of the premises and must meet all of the following criteria, which are intended to distinguish such activity from a home business as defined in this article and from other business uses:
     

    1. Not more than twenty-five (25) percent of the floor area of the main building shall be devoted to such activity;
       

    2. No one other than a member of the family residing on the premises shall be employed on the premises in the conduct of the activity;
       

    3. There shall be no signs, displays or alterations to the exterior of the building that would distinguish it as being devoted to any nondwelling use;
       

    4. There shall be no group instruction or assembly, no housing of persons for compensation, no product offered for sale or stored on the premises, and no service rendered directly to persons on the premises; and
       

    5. No mechanical equipment or machinery shall be used or maintained on the premises, other than that which is customarily used for domestic or household purposes and might normally be found on residential premises.
       

  30. Hospital. A facility in which the primary function is the provision of diagnostic, treatment, medical and nursing services, surgical or nonsurgical, for two (2) or more nonrelated individuals, and which provides inpatient beds, but not including a facility exclusively or primarily for the care and treatment of psychiatric patients or persons suffering from substance abuse.
     

  31. Hotel. A building or group of buildings on the same lot containing lodging units for transient guests principally on a daily basis, for which housekeeping services are provided, and in which each lodging unit has a separate entrance through a common lobby. The term "hotel" is intended to apply to motor inns, motor lodges and similar facilities, except when such conform to the definition of motel or tourist home as set forth in this article.
     

  32. Junkyard. An outdoor area used for the depositing, keeping, storing, buying or selling of discarded materials no longer usable in their present form, including but not necessarily limited to: Scrap metals, building materials, machinery, household appliances, plumbing supplies, furnishings, fixtures, or motor vehicles or parts thereof. The term "junkyard" shall include automobile graveyards, but shall not include garbage dumps, landfills or similar uses.
     

  33. Kennel. Any lot, structure or enclosure used for the keeping, boarding, raising or breeding of dogs or cats for commercial or noncommercial purposes, and involving four (4) or more such animals over the age of four (4) months. A noncommercial facility housing a fewer number of such animals as household pets on the same lot as a dwelling use shall not be construed to be a kennel, but shall be considered an accessory use or structure.
     

  34. Landfill. A sanitary landfill, an industrial waste landfill, or a construction, demolition or debris landfill, as defined under the solid waste management regulations promulgated by the Virginia Waste Management Board, and which in no event shall accept or be used for the disposal of any hazardous or infectious wastes, materials or substances as defined under said regulations.
     

  35. Livestock. Animals, other than dogs, cats and household pets, which are kept or raised for use, profit or enjoyment, including horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and similar domesticated animals and fowl.
     

  36. Lodging unit. A room or group of rooms within a building, constituting living quarters for one (1) or more persons, and not containing kitchen facilities. A room or group of rooms within a hotel, motel or tourist home constituting living quarters for transient guests shall be considered a lodging unit even though it may contain kitchen facilities.
     

  37. Lodginghouse. A building containing lodging units for more than two (2), but not more than ten (10) persons, with or without board, and where such lodging units are not available for occupancy for periods of less than one (1) week, as distinguished from a hotel, motel or tourist home where occupancy is available to transient guests on a daily basis. The term "lodginghouse" shall include homes for adults when licensed by the state, but shall not include residential facilities which also have as their purpose incarceration, detention, treatment, counselling, training or diagnostic services or programs intended for a specific client population.
     

  38. Lot. A parcel of land occupied or intended for occupancy by buildings, or uses permitted by the provisions of this Ordinance, together with such area, yards and other open spaces as are required by this Ordinance. The term "lot" includes the terms "tract" and "parcel" and may consist of a single lot of record, a combination of contiguous lots of record, or a unit of land described by metes and bounds.
     

  39. Lot, corner. A lot abutting upon two (2) or more streets at their intersection, or a lot bounded entirely by streets.
     

  40. Lot line. Any boundary of a lot, including a boundary which constitutes a street right-of-way line.
     

  41. Lot of record. A lot which is part of a subdivision recorded in the office of the clerk of the circuit court, or a lot or parcel which is described by metes and bounds and is similarly recorded.
     

  42. Lot, through. A lot other than a corner lot having frontage along more than one (1) street.
     

  43. Lot width. The minimum horizontal distance between the side lines of a lot measured between the points where the minimum required front yard line intersects the side lines of the lot. On a corner lot or through lot on which more than one (1) front yard is required, the lot width shall be measured adjacent to the frontage with the least dimension.
     

  44. Main building. A building in which is conducted the principal or main use of the property on which the building is located.
     

  45. Manufactured home. Any structure complying with the Federal Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards, which is transportable in one (1) or more sections; is eight (8) body feet or more in width and forty (40) body feet or more in length in the traveling mode, or is three hundred twenty (320) or more square feet when erected on site; is built on a permanent chassis; is designed to be used as a single-family dwelling, with or without a permanent foundation, when connected to the required utilities; and includes the plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and electrical systems contained in the structure.
     

  46. Manufactured home park. A lot or parcel on which are located, or which is arranged or equipped for the accommodation of, two (2) or more manufactured homes for dwelling use with spaces for such available for rent or lease for periods of not less than six (6) months, and including such open spaces and other facilities as may be provided for the use of or service to residents of manufactured homes located on such lot or parcel. A manufactured home park may include uses and structures accessory to the manufactured home park and individual manufactured home units, including awnings, porches, patios, garages, carports, storage buildings, parking areas, service buildings, laundries, management and maintenance facilities, utilities, recreational facilities, community buildings and similar facilities for the use of or service to residents of the manufactured home park.
     

  47. Manufactured home space. An area within a manufactured home park devoted to the site of an individual manufactured home and set aside for the private use of residents of such manufactured home, shown on a plat or site plan of the manufactured home park, and which includes such yards, open spaces and other contiguous areas necessary to support such individual manufactured home, as distinguished from common areas, peripheral buffers, roadways and other facilities of the manufactured home park.
     

  48. Motel. A building or group of buildings on the same lot containing lodging units for transient guests principally on a daily basis, for which housekeeping services are provided, and in which each lodging unit has a separate entrance from the outside as opposed to through a common lobby. The term "motel" is intended to apply to motor inns, motor lodges, motor courts, tourist courts and similar facilities, except when such conform to the definition of hotel or tourist home as set forth in this article.
     

  49. Nonconforming building. A building having one (1) or more nonconforming features.
     

  50. Nonconforming feature. A feature of a use, as distinguished from the use itself, or a feature of a building, which feature was lawfully existing at the effective date of this article or subsequent amendment thereto, and does not conform with the requirements established by this article or any amendment thereto. Features of uses or buildings shall be construed to include density, lot area, lot dimensions, yards, open spaces, height, bulk, number of occupants, screening, landscaping, lighting and off-street parking requirements. A building having any such nonconforming features may be referred to as a "nonconforming building."
     

  51. Nonconforming sign. A sign which was lawfully existing at the effective date of this Ordinance or subsequent amendment thereto, which sign does not conform with the area, height, location, placement, type, number, or other regulation pertaining to signs established by this Ordinance or any amendment thereto.
     

  52. Nonconforming use. A principal or accessory use of land or of a building, which use was lawfully existing at the effective date of this Ordinance or subsequent amendment thereto and is not a permitted use under the provisions of this Ordinance or any amendment thereto.
     

  53. Nursing home. Any facility or any identifiable component of any facility in which the primary function is the provision, on a continuing basis, of nursing services and health-related services for the treatment and inpatient care of two (2) or more nonrelated individuals. A nursing home shall include facilities known by varying nomenclature or designation such as convalescent homes, skilled care facilities, intermediate care facilities, extended care facilities and infirmaries, except for such exclusions as may be provided under applicable state law.
     

  54. Off-street parking space. An area for the parking of one (1) motor vehicle located other than within a public street or public alley right-of-way and having such dimensions as set forth in section 5-3 of this Ordinance and having a permanent means of access to a public street or a public alley without requiring passage through another parking space.
     

  55. Parking area. A parcel of land or a portion thereof used for the parking of motor vehicles, and including off-street parking spaces as defined herein as well as the access aisles and maneuvering space directly serving such off-street parking spaces.
     

  56. Party wall. A wall separating and common to two (2) buildings on individual lots and being of noncombustible material with a fire resistance rating and other characteristics as required by the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.
     

  57. Plan of development. The proposal for a development, including all plans, drawings, and information as required by the provisions of Article 7 of this Ordinance, and subject to the requirements, reviews and approval procedures set forth in that article.
     

  58. Planning commission. The Planning Commission of Wise County, Virginia.
     

  59. Principal use. The main or primary use of a lot or of a building.
     

  60. Public sewer or water system. A sewer or water system owned and operated by Wise County or by such other authority as may be authorized by the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
     

  61. Retail stores and shops. Buildings wherein the principal activity is the sale of merchandise at retail to the general public, and where such merchandise is typically sold in small quantities and broken lots, and not in bulk. For purposes of illustration, the following shall be considered retail stores and shops: Drug stores; newsstands; food stores and supermarkets; candy shops; dry goods, notions and clothing stores; boutiques and gift shops, hardware, home furnishings and household appliance and electronics stores; antique shops; furniture stores; florist shops; opticians; shoe stores; jewelry stores; auto accessory stores; and music stores. Establishments for the sale in bulk of coal, wood, fuel, building materials and lumber, and establishments for the sale of vehicles, farm implements, boats, trailers, machinery and similar items shall not be considered retail stores and shops.
     

  62. Shopping center. A group of three (3) or more commercial establishments on a site of two (2) acres or more planned, developed, owned and managed as a unit and related in its location, size and types of establishments to the trade area which such unit is intended to serve, and which is provided with off-street parking on the premises.
     

  63. Signs. A presentation of letters, numbers, figures, pictures, emblems, insignia, lines or colors, or any combination thereof which can be viewed from a public right-of-way, private road or another property, and which is displayed for the purpose of information, direction, or identification or to advertise or promote a business, service, activity, interest or product or any otherwise lawful noncommercial message that does not attract attention to a business operated for profit or to a commodity or service offered for sale, provided that the following shall not be considered signs for the purposes of this Ordinance:
     

    1. The flag, emblem or insignia of a nation or other governmental unit, except when displayed in connection with a commercial promotion or as part of a presentation otherwise considered to be a sign;
       

    2. Legal notices and identification, informational or directional presentations erected or required to be erected by a governmental body;
       

    3. Presentations not exceeding one (1) square foot in area identifying property numbers or addresses or occupants of premises.
       

  64. Sign, animated. Any sign having a conspicuous and intermittent variation in illumination, message or physical position of any or all of its parts. A time and/or temperature display which changes its messages not more than once every five (5) seconds or any flag or banner which is entirely dependent upon wind for movement shall not be considered an animated sign.
     

  65. Sign area. The area of the smallest individual rectangle, triangle or circle or combination of not more than two (2) contiguous rectangles, triangles or circles which will encompass all elements of the sign which form an integral part of the display, including background, borders and structural trim. The area of a double-faced sign shall be construed to be the area of the largest single face of the sign, provided that the interior angle formed by the two (2) faces does not exceed thirty (30) degrees. A pole, post, upright or similar structural support for a freestanding sign, including pole covers, shall be considered as part of the sign area if such pole, post, upright, structural support or pole cover exceeds twenty-four (24) inches in width.
     

  66. Sign, billboard. A sign used as an outdoor display for the purpose of advertising or promoting a business, service, activity or product which is not located, offered for sale or otherwise related to the use of the premises on which such sign is situated.
     

  67. Sign, directional. A sign located on private property and intended for the purpose of directing or guiding traffic or persons or identifying parking spaces, when such sign contains no advertising matter and does not exceed an area of four (4) square feet.
     

  68. Sign, freestanding. Any sign supported by uprights, poles, posts or braces which are situated upon or anchored within the ground. A freestanding sign shall be considered a structure.
     

  69. Sign, portable. A sign consisting of a fixed message or a changeable message panel, which is not attached to a building or anchored within the ground and which is capable of being moved easily from one (1) location to another on its own chassis or by other means. A portable sign shall not be construed as a temporary sign as defined herein or as specifically permitted by the provisions of section 5-2 of this Ordinance.
     

  70. Sign, temporary. Any sign denoting a sale or special product promotion or announcing a grand opening, new management or similar event or activity occurring on the premises; when such sign is attached flat against a building wall or located within a window, and when such sign does not remain on the premises for a period exceeding thirty (30) days. A permanently installed changeable message panel shall not be considered a temporary sign.
     

  71. Special exception. A use or feature permitted in a particular district or under specified circumstances only by approval of the board of zoning appeals pursuant to the provisions of Article 9 of this Ordinance.
     

  72. Special use. A use permitted in a particular district only upon approval of a special use permit by the board of supervisors in accordance with the provisions of Article 8 of this Ordinance.
     

  73. Street. The right-of-way within which lies a public or private thoroughfare which affords or is intended for the purpose of affording the principal means of vehicular access to abutting property.
     

  74. Street line. The right-of-way line of a street.
     

  75. Structural alteration. Any change in the supporting members of a structure, including foundations, bearing walls, bearing partitions, columns, beams or girders, or any change in the supporting members of the roof of a structure or in the means of egress of a structure.
     

  76. Structure. An assembly of materials forming a construction for use, including stadiums, gospel and circus tents, reviewing stands, platforms, stagings, observation towers, radio towers, water tanks, trestles, piers, wharfs, swimming pools, amusement devices, storage bins, and other structures of this general nature.
     

  77. Tourist home. A building containing lodging units for more than two (2), but not more than ten (10) persons, with or without board, and where such lodging units are available for occupancy by transient guests on a daily basis, and in which access to each lodging unit is provided exclusively from within the building. A tourist home may include a dwelling unit which constitutes the residence of the owner or manager of the facility.
     

  78. Usable open space. The area of a lot which is not covered by buildings and is not devoted to parking areas, driveways or other vehicular maneuvering area. Usable open space includes all yard areas, as well as other outdoor space available for active or passive use by occupants of the premises.
     

  79. Variance. A departure from the strict application of the provisions of this Ordinance when authorized by the board of zoning appeals pursuant to and in accordance with the provisions of section 15.1-495 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, and the applicable provisions of Article 9 of this Ordinance.
     

  80. Yard. An open space on a lot, unoccupied and unobstructed by any structure or portion of a structure from thirty (30) inches above the ground level upward, except as otherwise provided in Article 5 of this Ordinance.
     

  81. Yard, front. A yard extending the full width of a lot and being adjacent and parallel to the street frontage of the lot.
     

  82. Yard, rear. A yard adjacent and parallel to the rear lot line of a lot and extending between the minimum required side yards on the lot.
     

  83. Yard, side. A yard adjacent and parallel to the side lot line of a lot and extending from the minimum required front yard to the rear lot line. On irregular shaped lots, any yard adjacent to a lot line to which the yard definitions of this article do not clearly apply shall be considered a side yard.
     

  84. Yard, street side. A side yard adjacent to a street.
     

  85. Zoning administrator. The officer appointed by the board of supervisors to administer and enforce the provisions of this Ordinance.

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