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Special Use Permits

A "Special Use" is a land use that has the potential for creating conflicts with uses on adjacent properties (i.e. a gasoline station may present problems caused by traffic, parking fumes, lighting, and the use of flammable materials). The Board of County Supervisors approves or denies special use permits in a manner similar to a rezoning. Such approval may be subject to conditions that limit the use or mitigate potential negative impacts associated with the use.  

In order to determine if a use is allowed, you must first determine the zoning of the land. Click here for instructions on finding zoning districts. Once you determine the zoning, you can go to the Zoning Ordinance Article III (for agricultural and residential zoning districts) or Article IV (for nonresidential/commercial zoning districts) to see if the use is allowed by right or with a Special Use Permit.

It is recommended that prior to submitting a Special Use Permit application, a prospective applicant call the Planning Office at 703-792-7615 to schedule a pre-application meeting. This will allow for the early identification of issues and allow the applicant to become more familiar with the review process.

Consult the following when submitting a special use permit request:

Special Use Permit applications are submitted to the Planning Office for staff review. Planning staff prepare an analysis and recommendation for consideration by the Planning Commission at a public hearing. The Planning Commission is a standing committee appointed by the Board of County Supervisors to advise the Board on land-use issues. The Board, at a subsequent public hearing, will consider the case and the Commissioners' recommendation and either approve or deny the application. The Board action is final. 

Questions or comments? Contact the Planning Office at or 703-792-7615


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