Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

City of Manassas Approves Major Update to Zoning Ordinance

Zoning Map
Source: City of Manassas

Following a year-long process that included many committee and other stakeholder meetings, the Manassas City Council adopted significant changes to the City’s Zoning Ordinance. All new applications filed after May 12 must comply with the new ordinance requirements.

City staff wanted to make the Zoning Ordinance more business-friendly and less complicated while correcting technical issues and incorporating updates necessitated by changes in state and federal laws. Some of the new provisions include:

  • Use Chart – A new chart of permitted and special use permit uses. This eliminates cumulative uses, or the “waterfall” of uses.
  • Definitions – 46 new land use definitions and revisions to 23 existing definitions. Technical revisions to the definitions have also been made to match those found in state law or building codes.
  • Motor Vehicle Uses – Motor vehicle sales and repair uses are now permitted by-right (previously a special use permit) in the Heavy Industrial (I-2) Zoning District with performance standards. The performance standards are based on special use permit conditions routinely approved by the City Council.
  • Residential in City Center Commercial – Allows some multifamily residential dwelling units by-right in the City Center Commercial (B-3) Zoning District with performance standards. This change was made because the previous special use permit discouraged the conversion of vacant and underutilized upper-story spaces.
  • Place of Assembly – Two use categories for a place of assembly use based on building code requirements. Small scale (less than 50 people) place of assembly uses are now by-right in all commercial districts. More than 50 people requires a special use permit.
  • Medical Care Facility – Medical Care Facility is now defined and requires a special use permit in all districts where permitted. This change involved a good deal of discussion and media coverage because some stakeholders suggested it was intended to regulate medical clinics that perform abortions. The use is defined as:

… the use of land for any medical facility, other than a Hospital or Nursing Home as defined by this chapter that produces greater land use impacts than a Medical Office as defined by this chapter. A facility having one or more of the following characteristics shall be a Medical Care Facility:

(1) Contains office space for diagnostic or outpatient care along with associated medical facilities such as a pharmacy, laboratory, physical therapy facility, or other similar facility, but does not provide inpatient hospitalization;
(2) Holds a Certificate of Public Need authorization from the Virginia Department of Health;
(3) Is licensed by or registered with the Virginia Department of Health and used principally for performing surgery;
(4) Is operated for the performance of surgical or other procedures where the patient is not capable of self-preservation during the procedure or recovery; or
(5) Is held out to the public as any of the above.

  • Industrial Districts – The Light Industrial (I-1) Zoning District was updated to become the primary industrial zoning district within the City. Uses deemed incompatible were removed from the I-1  and Heavy Industrial (I-2) Zoning Districts.

The City of Manassas Zoning Ordinance can be found here –  Please contact our Prince William Office land use team if you wish to discuss the Zoning Ordinance update.