About Planning & Zoning

Welcome to the Department of Planning and Zoning!

Page updated on Jan 11, 2019 at 4:14 PM

Department Function

Planning and Zoning (P&Z) works closely with the community in each area of the city to carry out City Council's Strategic Plan and community vision for vibrant, walkable neighborhoods, protected natural resources, and vital "Main Street" business districts.

P&Z is responsible for legal, regulatory, and enforcement functions related to land-use requirements and long­ term community-based land use planning. In order to enforce the City Code zoning ordinances, urban design guidelines, and specific development procedures, P&Z provides information and analysis to City Council, the Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, the two Boards of Architectural Review, a number of Implementation, Design Review, and Citizen Advisory Boards, the City Manager, City agencies, and the public. P&Z is also responsible for developing and administering the City's Master Plan and the Zoning Ordinance.

In order to plan for long-term land use and development, P&Z coordinates with local neighborhoods and communities to review development opportunities and needs, plan for future land use and development, establish design standards and guidelines, and analyze such land use and zoning issues as parking requirements, in-fill development, and open space regulations. P&Z reviews and makes recommendations on land development applications in order to ensure that projects are consistent with the highest quality design and planning and are compatible with applicable City standards, guidelines and policies.

P&Z also reviews and makes recommendations on use permit and variance requests to ensure that new buildings and uses have the least impact on neighboring properties and are operated to minimize any impacts on the surrounding area. In all cases, P&Z works with the neighborhoods to ensure that residents understand the proposals that affect them.

In support of these objectives, P&Z maintains and analyzes demographic and economic data and provides urban design assistance for City and private development projects. It provides expertise to the public related to zoning and development requirements, future trends, and development and market activity.

Each year P&Z coordinates with other City agencies to develop a Planning Interdepartmental Work Program.  The Work Program provides a schedule for major planning projects and work associated with plan implementation in the upcoming fiscal year and is presented to City Council for consideration and approval.

Divisions and Functions

  • Development Review

    The Development Review Division retains and enhances Alexandria’s quality of life by ensuring that development proposals are consistent with the City's Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance; have high-quality building design, urban design and site planning; are taken through the review process in a fair, consistent, and timely manner; and provide an overall public benefit. 

  • Land Use Regulatory Services

    The Land Use Regulatory Services Division includes Zoning Review, Zoning Enforcement, SUP Administration, and Historic Preservation.

    The Zoning Administration Group administers and enforces the City’s zoning and subdivision regulations. Staff provides zoning analysis to City agencies, residents, architects, engineers and builders, and reviews and approves construction permits and business licenses for compliance with the Zoning Ordinance and manages administration of all Special Use Permit (SUP) applications whether reviewed administratively or by the Planning Commission. Zoning Inspectors respond to resident complaints and inspect property for zoning and SUP violations. In addition, Zoning staff provides support to the Board of Zoning Appeals, a quasi‐judicial citizen appointed board that hears requests for variances, special exceptions and appeals.

    Historic Preservation staff ensures compliance with historic district requirements through the review and approval of applications for changes to structures in the City's historic districts and reviews of proposals for new structures in those districts in order to maintain the high-quality reputation and character of the City's historic buildings. The Historic Preservation staff also conducts inventories of historic structures and provides guidance to homeowners and other building owners seeking to reinvest in the city’s historic neighborhoods.

  • Neighborhood Planning and Community Development

    The Neighborhood Planning and Community Development (NPCD) Division includes 1) Small Area Planning, Citywide and Master Planning, and Major Studies; 2) Plan Implementation; and 3) Demographic Analysis and Forecasts. NPCD provides community-based long range planning and analysis regarding the physical development and appearance of the city; develops and implements the long-range planning work program; manages plan implementation to achieve planned growth and economic development; and advises other agencies on land use, design, demographics, and other planning issues. In all of these tasks, outreach is a key element of the process.

    NPCD staff works with the community to create Small Area Plans, building consensus on a vision for the future to ensure that Plans reflect community goals and expectations. Small Area Plans (which together with other citywide chapters make up the City's Master Plan) serve as the fundamental framework to guide development review and establish the quality, public benefits, and economic value with new development. 

More Information 

Contact Information

Questions? Call the Department of Planning and Zoning, 703.746.4666 or visit Room 2100 at City Hall, 301 King Street. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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