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Land Development FAQs

Click on a question to view the answer below:

What services does the Planning Office provide?

When a property owner wishes to change the zoning or use of his or her property (i.e., residential to commercial); apply for a Special Use Permit, or begin a home day care business which requires a Home Occupational Certificate (HOC2) and/or a Special Use Permit, a visit or phone call to the Planning Office is necessary. Staff will determine which of the following review processes is necessary to allow a citizen to accomplish a desired use:

  • Comprehensive Plan Amendment
  • Minor Modification (Proffers and/or Special Use)
  • Nonconforming Use
  • Rezoning
  • Special Use Permit
  • Variance/Appeal
  • Zoning Verification Letter

I'm buying a home in Prince William County. What do I need to know? 

Before purchasing a new home, prospective homeowners should consider the following:

  • What is the existing zoning of the property and surrounding area? Use the County Mapper to find your
  • Zoning District.
  • Is there zoning approval/are there building permits for any existing improvements to the home (decks, pools, sheds, additions, etc.)? Call Land Development at 703-792-6830 or visit
  • Will I be able to install a deck, pool, fence, shed or any other additions? Call Land Development at 703-792-6830.  For building permits or inspections for these installations, call Building Development at 703-792-6930 or schedule an inspection by visiting  
  • Is there any future development in the surrounding area? Call 703-792-6830.
  • Are there any development restrictions on the lot? Call 703-792-6830.
  • What are the setback requirements? Setback requirements depend on your zoning distinct, size of property and type of proposed structure. Call 703-792-6830.
  • What is a buffer, and is one shown on the property? A buffer is a strip of land that contains landscaping, possibly in combination with a man-made barrier (e.g., fence, wall, earthen berm), located along the common property line of two dissimilar abutting land uses or properties, between a storm water management facility and buildings, along the edge of a street in a Highway Corridor Overlay District, or where proffered. Call 703-792-6830.
  • Can any improvements be done within the buffer area? Call 703-792-6830.
  • Can the trees be removed from the property or buffer area? Call 703-792-6830.
  • What is the purpose of open space and who is responsible for its maintenance? Call 703-792-6830.
  • If applicable, will the adjacent property remain wooded? Call 703-792-6830.
  • Road Maintenance and Future Road Development: call Public Works at 703-792-6828 for plans regarding road improvements or new roads in the area surrounding your home.
  • Street Paving - the developer prepares the road for inspection by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). VDOT then accepts the road into its system for maintenance and snow removal. However, roads in townhouses and condo communities are maintained and cleared of snow by the property owners association.
  • Final Inspections of Your Home - Development Services staff conducts final inspections on your home to ensure building safety. If you have questions regarding inspections, call Development Services at 703-792-6930.
  • Lot Grading - Public Works staff inspects your property for proper grading for drainage and erosion control. If you have questions about your yard's grading, call the Watershed Management Division of Public Works at 703-792-7070.
  • Trash Removal - Trash is collected by private haulers, or residents may take trash to one of several disposal areas. Call Public Works at 703-792-5670 for details, visit the Trash Disposal Web page, or seearch the internet for of refuse haulers in the county.
  • Warranty - there is a one-year warranty on new homes and a five-year warranty on the foundation. Call 703-792-6930 if you have questions.

Home businesses: what is allowed and what zoning approvals and permits do I need? 

In all residential zones, a home business requires a Special Use Permit. Home employment uses require Zoning Approval for a Home Employment Certificate, and a home occupation requires Zoning Approval for a Home Occupation Certificate - Home Office. See Part 100 of the Zoning Ordinance for the definitions of these uses.

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What uses may I have on my property? 

The zoning of your property determines the uses allowed and/or permits required for various uses. You may use the County Mapper to query and view your property and its associated zoning. Once you have identified the property's zoning, refer to the Zoning Ordinance  to view allowed uses. If applicable, proffered conditions and overlays, such as a highway corridor overlay district, may place additional restrictions on land uses. For more information, call 703-792-7615.

Home day care: what zoning approvals and permits do I need? 

To operate a day care with five or more children out of your home, you must obtain Zoning Approval for a Home Occupation Certificate (HOC2) - Family Day Care, as well as all other applicable County and state approvals.  For more information, visit the Childcare Within A Residence page.

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I'm selling Christmas trees, pumpkins, or fireworks, etc. for a few weeks. What zoning approvals and permits do I need? 

These activities require Zoning Approval for a Temporary Activity, as well as other related County approvals.

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Business/trade name: how do I register one? 

If your business operates under a trade name, the trade name must be registered prior to applying for zoning approval. Trade names are registered at the Judicial Center, 9311 Lee Avenue, Manassas, Virginia 20110, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (Monday through Friday, excluding holidays). Go to the Clerk of the Circuit Court Web page for information, or call 703-792-6045.

Site/subdivision plan: how do I check on the status? 

Status of Site/Subdivision Plans Under Review can be checked using ePortal or by calling 703-792-6830.

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Signs: what zoning approvals and permits do I need and how do I apply? 

All advertising signs must receive zoning approval and a building permit from Development Services. Please call the Zoning Counter at 703-792-6830 regarding zoning approval for signs. Call Development Services at 703-792-6930 for information on building permits.

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How are citizens notified of development issues/applications?

All development applications and permits are public documents available to the public for review upon request. In addition, the Planning Office provides information on new development by way of the following methods:

  • After the submission of an application for a text or map change property owners within 500 feet of a proposed site are notified of the proposal.
  • Copies of each staff report are available at the Planning Office. 
  • Pending Planning cases are available on the Pending Planning Cases Web Application.
  • Prior to each public hearing property owners within 500 feet of the proposed site are again notified of the proposal and date of public hearing.
  • The property is posted with informational signs prior to the public hearing(s).
  • An advertisement of the public hearing(s) is placed in the Prince William Times or the Washington Post.

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Land development/clearing - How may I find out what will be built? 

Please call 703-792-6830 to find out about development in the County.

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There's a zoning violation on a property (a fence or shed, debris, car with no tags, illegal business, etc.). Who do I contact? 

Zoning complaints should be reported to the Neighborhood Services Department at 703-792-7018 or visit the Neighborhood Services Complaints Page to report zoning violations.

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House location survey plat: where may I get mine? 

For information on plats, go to the House Location Survey Plat Web page.

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I'm building an addition to a house for a relative or friend. How do I get approvals and permits? 

To obtain zoning approval, you must submit a notarized Special Power of Attorney Affidavit with your application. To apply for a building permit, you must submit an Affidavit of Owner. Also, see Building an Addition or Garage.

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