Special Exception

A Special Exception is a type of use approved for a property by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), as detailed in Section 14-16 of the Zoning Ordinance. Special Exceptions can only be approved if the BZA if it satisfies the Special Exception criteria stated in Section 14-19 of the Zoning Ordinance. In addition to approval of a Special Exception, the BZA may attach Special Exception Conditions which are intended to offset impacts to adjacent land uses resulting from the use requested. Due to the unique characteristics of the use and/or property, each application is unique and, therefore, conditions applied to identical uses on different properties may be similar in nature, but with slight differences in the specifics of the conditions. In some circumstances, no set of conditions are sufficient to grant approval and, therefore, the BZA may deny these applications.


Prior to applying for a Special Exception, interested parties must meet with Planning and Zoning Staff for a mandatory Pre-Application meeting to discuss the perceived impacts of the proposed use and Comprehensive Plan guidance for the property the use is proposed on.

Following the Pre-Application Meeting, a Special Exception Application (with the accompanying $275 fee) can be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning for review by staff and the Board of Zoning Appeals. Staff from the County, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and other applicable agencies will review the application and, following this review, Planning and Zoning staff will prepare a Staff Report to be presented to the BZA at a Public Hearing.

Within 60 days of receipt of an application, a Public Hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals will be scheduled. During this Public Hearing, staff will present the application to the BZA with their summarized analysis and recommendation, the applicant can speak before the BZA, and the public has the opportunity to comment on the application. At this Public Hearing or a subsequent meeting (but within 30 days following the Public Hearing), the BZA will decide to approve or deny the application.

All amendments to an approved Special Exception application are considered a new Special Exception application and, therefore, are reviewed and decided upon by the Board of Zoning Appeals following a Public Hearing.

Forms for the Pre-Application meeting and Special Exception Application can be found on the department’s Forms and Policies page. Comprehensive Plan guidance for properties within the County and uses subject to a Special Exception can be found on the department’s Comprehensive Plan page.