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Building & Zoning – Zoning Ordinance - Article 7

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ARTICLE 7. ADMINISTRATION AND ENFORCEMENT

Sec. 7-1. Enforcement.

     7-1.1. Zoning administrator. The provisions of this Ordinance shall be administered and enforced by the zoning administrator, who shall be appointed by and shall serve at the pleasure of the board of supervisors, and who may hold other appointed office in the county. The zoning administrator shall have all necessary authority to carry out the duties prescribed in this Ordinance on behalf of the board of supervisors. It shall be the responsibility of all other appointed officers and employees of the county to cooperate with the zoning administrator in the execution of his or her duties.

     7-1.2. Duties of the zoning administrator.

  1. Interpretation. Subject to appeal to the board of zoning appeals pursuant to the provisions of Article 9 of this Ordinance, the zoning administrator shall be the final authority as to the interpretation of the provisions of this Ordinance.
     

  2. Review and approval of applications. The zoning administrator shall review all applications for building permits, certificates of occupancy and sign permits required by the provisions of this Ordinance or by the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, and shall approve or disapprove same based on compliance or noncompliance with the provisions of this Ordinance.

         The zoning administrator shall also review all applications for plans of development, and shall approve or disapprove such plans of development based on compliance or noncompliance with the provisions of this Ordinance or, in the case of plans of development required by the provisions of section 7-4 to be approved by the planning commission, shall provide a recommendation to the commission.

         No permit for excavation for any building or authorization for any land disturbing activity shall be granted by any administrative official of the county until the zoning administrator has reviewed same and certified that such excavation or land disturbing activity will not result in any violation of the provisions of this Ordinance.
     

  3. Violations. The zoning administrator shall use his or her best endeavors to prevent violations of the provisions of this Ordinance and to detect and secure the correction of violations. The zoning administrator shall order in writing remedy of conditions found to be in violation, including the discontinuance of illegal uses of land and buildings, the removal or bringing into compliance of illegal buildings, structures, additions and alterations, and the discontinuance of illegal work being done. The zoning administrator shall have the authority to bring such legal action to ensure compliance and prevent violations as may be authorized by the laws of the commonwealth.
     

  4. Other duties. The zoning administrator shall have such other duties with respect to the administration of this Ordinance as are specifically set forth elsewhere in the Ordinance.
     

  5. Records. The zoning administrator shall maintain records of all official actions taken with respect to the administration and enforcement of this Ordinance. 

Sec. 7-2. Building permits.

     7-2.1. Review for zoning compliance. No building permit required by the provisions of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code shall be issued by the building official until the zoning administrator has reviewed the application for such permit and determined that the proposed construction and use complies with the applicable provisions of this Ordinance by so noting on the building permit application form.

     7-2.2. Plans. In addition to the plans and information required by the building code to be submitted with a building permit application, the zoning administrator may require such further plans and information to be submitted by the applicant as deemed necessary by the zoning administrator to determine compliance with the provisions of this Ordinance. 

Sec. 7-3. Certificates of occupancy.

     For the purposes of administration and enforcement of this Ordinance, certificates of occupancy shall be required as set forth in this section.

     7-3.1. Required for all uses and buildings. It shall be a violation of the provisions of this Ordinance for any person to use or to permit the use of any land or building unless a certificate of occupancy for such land or building shall have been approved by the zoning administrator. A certificate of occupancy shall not be required for conservation uses of land, or for agricultural uses of land associated with the conduct of a farm.

     7-3.2. New and altered buildings. Whenever any building is hereafter erected, constructed, reconstructed, enlarged, converted or moved, the owner of such building shall make application for a certificate of occupancy.

     7-3.3. Change in use. Whenever the use of any land or building is changed to a different use or extended to occupy a greater area of land or of a building, the owner of such land or building shall make application for a certificate of occupancy.

     7-3.4. Temporary certificates of occupancy.

  1. To the extent permitted by the building code, the zoning administrator may approve a temporary certificate of occupancy only where lack of compliance with the provisions of this Ordinance is of a temporary nature and involves site related improvements such as landscaping, vegetative screening and paving which cannot reasonably be completed due to seasonal or weather conditions. In such instance, the zoning administrator and the building official shall be satisfied that the premises involved are physically suitable for use and occupancy in terms of access, availability of required parking and drainage.
     

  2. Temporary certificates of occupancy shall state the nature of the incomplete work and the time period within which the work is to be completed, which in no case shall exceed six (6) months. A temporary certificate of occupancy shall expire at the end of such stated period, and if the work is not completed, a violation of the terms of this Ordinance shall be deemed to exist.

     7-3.5. Certificate of occupancy for portions of buildings. To the extent permitted by the building code, a certificate of occupancy may be approved for a portion of a building or a portion of a development completed in accordance with all of the applicable provisions of this Ordinance even though the entire building or development is not completed.

     7-3.6. Plans. In addition to such plans and information as may be required by the building code to be submitted with an application for a certificate of occupancy, the zoning administrator may require such further plans and information to be submitted by the applicant as deemed necessary by the zoning administrator to determine compliance with the provisions of this Ordinance. 

Sec. 7-4. Plans of development.

     7-4.1. Purpose; levels of approval. The purpose of the plan of development process is to provide an opportunity for the zoning administrator and, in certain cases, the planning commission to review and approve plans for the development of property prior to the issuance of building permits or other authorizations to develop or use land in order to assure compliance with the regulations contained in this Ordinance. There shall be two (2) different levels of approval for plans of development depending on the nature and complexity of the development and its potential impacts on the site and on adjacent properties and public streets. The procedures for review and approval of each level of plan of development shall vary, depending on whether the authority for approval is vested in the zoning administrator or the planning commission.

     7-4.2. When required.

  1. A plan of development shall be required for such uses as specified in Article 4 of this Ordinance pertaining to district regulations. A plan of development shall be required to construct, erect, enlarge, move or convert any building intended to be devoted to any such use, or to construct or modify a parking area or vehicular circulation system on any site intended to be devoted to such use.
     

  2. A plan of development shall not be required for a change in use of an existing building when no enlargement of the building and no modifications to the parking, vehicular circulation system or other features of the site are to be made.
     

  3. No building permit, certificate of occupancy or other authorization to improve or develop land shall be approved or issued in any instance where a plan of development is required until such plan of development has been approved in accordance with the applicable provisions of this section.

     7-4.3. Procedures for review and approval. Plans of development shall be reviewed and approved in accordance with the following procedures:

  1. Approval by zoning administrator. Except where approval by the planning commission is specifically required by paragraph (4) of this section or by the district regulations set forth in Article 4 of this Ordinance, a plan of development approved by the zoning administrator shall be required for all uses for which a plan of development is specified in the district regulations.

    The zoning administrator shall review each plan of development for compliance with applicable provisions of this Ordinance and shall approve, approve with modifications or conditions, or disapprove the plan of development within thirty (30) days of receipt of all required plans and information.
     

  2. Plan of development for mining activities. In the case of mining activities and related structures for which permits are required to be issued by the state department of mines, minerals and energy, the applicant for such permit shall notify the zoning administrator of a pending permit application by providing to the zoning administrator a copy of the receipt for filing the state required permit application materials with the clerk of the circuit court. Filing of the permit application materials with the clerk of the circuit court and subsequent notification of the zoning administrator shall be deemed to constitute submission of the plan of development application as required by the provisions of this Ordinance. All plans of development for mining, other mineral extraction and processing shall be subject to approval only by the zoning administrator.

    After receiving notification, it shall be the responsibility of the zoning administrator to review the pertinent elements of the permit application materials to determine compliance or noncompliance with the provisions of this Ordinance. The zoning administrator shall have authority to disapprove or require modifications to a plan of development only if the intended use is not consistent with the applicable provisions of this Ordinance.
     

  3. Plan of development for oil and gas drilling activities. In the case of oil and gas drilling activities and related structures for which permits are required to be issued by state regulatory agencies, the applicant shall notify the zoning administrator of a pending permit application by submitting to the zoning administrator a copy of the permit application which is submitted to the state. Submission to the zoning administrator shall include locational maps showing gathering and transmission lines in addition to the materials required under the state permit application. Such notification of the zoning administrator shall be deemed to constitute submission of the plan of development application as required by the provisions of this Ordinance. All plans of development for the drilling and operation of oil and gas wells shall be subject to approval only by the zoning administrator.

    After receiving notification, it shall be the responsibility of the zoning administrator to review the pertinent elements of the permit application materials to determine compliance or noncompliance with the provisions of this Ordinance. The zoning administrator shall have authority to disapprove or require modifications to a plan of development only if the intended use is not consistent with the applicable provisions of this Ordinance.
     

  4. Approval by planning commission. A plan of development approved by the planning commission shall be required for all uses for which a plan of development is specified in the district regulations contained in Article 4 of this Ordinance when any of the following circumstances exist, unless specific requirements to the contrary are set forth in Article 4 with regard to any use:
     

    1. When more than one (1) main building is to be situated on a lot.
       

    2. When any new commercial or industrial use is to be developed on a vacant lot.
       

    3. When the district regulations specifically require planning commission approval of a plan of development.

    The zoning administrator shall forward each application for such plan of development to the planning commission within thirty (30) days of receipt of all required plans and information, along with a report indicating the manner in which the plan of development complies or does not comply with the provisions of this Ordinance and a recommendation for action to be taken by the commission.

    The commission shall consider such application and recommendation at its first regular meeting following submission by the zoning administrator. The commission shall take final action within sixty (60) days, unless the applicant requests additional time to consider or prepare revised plans. The planning commission shall have the authority to approve, approve with modifications or conditions, or disapprove the plan of development, provided that all decisions of the planning commission shall be pursuant to and consistent with the applicable provisions of this Ordinance.

     7-4.4. Compliance with district regulations. All plans of development shall comply with the district regulations, supplementary regulations and all other requirements of this Ordinance which are applicable to the use in the district in which it is situated. Neither the zoning administrator nor the planning commission shall have any authority to waive such requirements unless specific authority to do so is set forth in this Ordinance.

     7-4.5. Preliminary approvals. The zoning administrator and the planning commission may grant preliminary approval of plans of development, which shall be of an informal nature for purposes of providing advice and guidance to the applicant and shall not be binding on future formal actions. Applicants shall be encouraged to seek such preliminary approval or other advice and guidance prior to preparing plans of development for formal consideration. Such preliminary approval shall be conditioned on final approval in accordance with the procedures specified in this article, and shall not be the basis for the issuance of any permits or authorization to commence development of any building or site.

     7-4.6. Plan submission requirements. All plans of development shall be submitted to the zoning administrator, and shall be in such form and format, shall include such information, and shall include plans and drawings in such numbers as required by written policy established by the zoning administrator and adopted by the planning commission. Such policy shall require that plans of development be prepared by professionals or others deemed appropriate by the zoning administrator, and that such information be included on plans of development as necessary to enable a complete review and evaluation to determine compliance or noncompliance with applicable development standards and requirements. Such policy may provide for waiver of certain plan information by the zoning administrator in cases where such information is not needed for review and evaluation of the plan of development.

     7-4.7. Development standards. The following development standards and improvement requirements shall apply and shall be specified, where applicable, on all plans of development:

  1. All street and highway construction standards and geometric design standards shall be in accord with those specified by applicable laws and policies, provided that the zoning administrator may recommend modification of design standards with the concurrence of the Virginia Department of Transportation.
     

  2. On-site vehicular travel lanes and driveways shall have pavement widths of not less than twenty (20) feet for two-way traffic and sixteen (16) feet for one-way traffic. Driveways providing access to required parking spaces shall be of such width as necessary to conform with the requirements of section 5-3 of this Ordinance pertaining to off-street parking, provided that driveways which provide direct access to perpendicular parking spaces on both sides thereof shall be not less than twenty-four (24) feet in width.
     

  3. Driveways and areas for the parking and circulation of vehicles shall be arranged and designed so as to provide for safe and convenient access and circulation on the site and with respect to abutting streets and adjacent properties. The number of driveways from public streets shall be the minimum necessary to provide adequate access and circulation, and whenever possible common driveways serving abutting sites shall be provided. Means of access to the site and circulation on the site shall be suitable to accommodate firefighting apparatus and other emergency vehicles.
     

  4. Sites devoted to commercial uses such as fast food restaurants, banks, auto washes and similar uses which provide drive-up or drive-through facilities for customers, shall be designed and arranged to meet the requirements of Article 5 pertaining to off-street parking and waiting space for vehicles. Such waiting space shall be located and arranged so as to avoid the blocking of required parking spaces or access thereto and so as not to cause obstruction of vehicular circulation on the site or of traffic on the adjoining public streets. The planning commission shall have the authority to require greater waiting space for vehicles than set forth in Article 5 of this Ordinance when in its judgement the particular circumstances of the use, the location of the site or traffic conditions on abutting streets warrant.
     

  5. Space for the loading and unloading of trucks and other vehicles shall be provided on sites developed for commercial and industrial uses. Such loading areas shall be so located on the site and shall be of such dimensions as not to occupy or obstruct access to any required parking spaces or to obstruct any public street or roadway or any fire lane or emergency access route during the loading or unloading of vehicles. When necessary to meet these criteria, designated loading areas and adequate maneuvering space shall be provided on the site.
     

  6. Sidewalks or pedestrian walkways shall be provided so as to enable safe and convenient pedestrian access between buildings located on the site, between buildings and their parking areas and between buildings and public sidewalks.
     

  7. The natural landscape and topography of the site shall be preserved to the extent possible by minimizing grading and retaining mature trees and significant vegetative features. Appropriate ground cover, trees and other vegetation shall be planted and maintained to prevent excessive storm water runoff, erosion, siltation and dust, and to enhance the general appearance of the site.
     

  8. Buildings shall be arranged on the site so as to respect the established development pattern in the immediate area, so that the fronts of buildings containing dwelling units do not face into the rears or the service areas of other buildings and so that the rears or service areas of buildings are not oriented toward public streets, unless screening is provided.

     7-4.8. Amendments. Any amendment of substance to an approved plan of development shall be subject to the provisions of this section and shall be processed, reviewed and acted upon in the same manner as an original plan of development. Minor modifications to the site details of an approved plan of development may be authorized by the zoning administrator when such modifications do not significantly: Alter the boundaries of the property; conflict with any specific requirements of this Ordinance or specific conditions of the approved plan of development; decrease the width or depth of any yard, setback or buffer area; alter points of access to the property or the internal arrangement of site plan elements; or have an appreciable effect on surrounding properties.

     7-4.9. Implementation of approved plans.

  1. Prior to final approval of any plan of development, the applicant or owner shall execute an agreement to construct such required improvements as are located within public rights-of-way or easements connected to any public facility, together with a performance bond with surety acceptable to the county administrator. The bond shall be in the amount of the total estimated cost of providing the improvements as determined by the county administrator, and shall provide for completion of the work within a specific time.
     

  2. Inspections shall be made by the zoning administrator and other public officials with respect to their particular areas of responsibility during construction and upon completion of construction of off-site and on-site improvements in order to ensure compliance with each approved plan of development. The owner or developer shall provide supervision at the development site during construction and installation of all improvements required by the approved plan of development, and shall maintain a set of approved plans at the site at all times that work pursuant thereto is being performed.

     7-4.10. Expiration of plan of development. An approved plan of development shall become null and void if no building permit to construct the improvements authorized by the plan of development has been issued within twelve (12) months of the date of approval. Upon written request by the applicant, the zoning administrator may grant one (1) ninety-day extension of the expiration date of a plan of development.

     7-4.11. Appeals.

  1. Appeals from decisions of the zoning administrator regarding plans of development may be made to the board of zoning appeals in accordance with the provisions of Article 9 of this Ordinance.
     

  2. Appeals from decisions of the planning commission regarding plans of development may be made to the county board of supervisors by filing a request in writing with the county clerk within ten (10) days of the date of the decision. The board of supervisors shall hear such appeal within thirty (30) days of the date of filing such request. In deciding an appeal, the board of supervisors shall have the same authority as is vested in the planning commission by the provisions of this article.

     7-4.12. Fees. A filing fee in such amount as established by general rule by the board of supervisors shall accompany each application for a plan of development.

Sec. 7-5. Compliance with approved plans.

     Building permits, certificates of occupancy, sign permits and plans of development are approved or issued on the basis of approved applications and plans, and shall authorize only the construction, arrangement and use set forth by such approved applications and plans. Any construction, arrangement or use not in compliance with that which is specifically authorized by approved applications and plans shall be deemed a violation of this Ordinance.

Sec. 7-6. Violations and penalties.

     Any violation of the provisions of this Ordinance shall be a misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by a fine of not less than ten dollars ($10.00) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), or such other penalty as may be authorized by the laws of the commonwealth. Each day such violation exists shall constitute a separate offense.

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