Land Use Services

The Land Use Services Division works with residents, businesses, developers and government agencies to implement the community’s established vision for the future. By consistently interpreting, applying and enforcing local zoning regulations, the Division ensures development and land use is compatible with surrounding areas to preserve our high quality of life, maintain the unique character of neighborhoods and commercial corridors, and promote a healthy and safe community.

Page updated on Feb 4, 2021 at 12:04 PM


  • City Issues Guidelines to Support Fall and Winter Outdoor Business Operations

    The City of Alexandria releases guidance for businesses planning to accommodate patrons outdoors during colder weather in response to COVID-19. Advice on installing temporary structures, tents, awnings and heating elements and incorporating health and safety requirements is available in Guidelines for Winterizing Outdoor Business Activities 2020-2021. City permit fees associated with adapting outdoor operations to colder weather are temporarily waived. In response to businesses’ financial concerns related to modifying outdoor operations, the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP) will request that the City Council, at its October 27 Legislative Meeting, provide funding for restaurant, retail and fitness businesses who wish to  “winterize” outdoor business areas. AEDP will distribute the funds as grants to businesses who hold permits for outdoor commercial activities.

    Restaurant, retail and fitness businesses may operate in on-street parking spaces, on sidewalks or in parking lots through Department of Planning & Zoning approval of a temporary outdoor business expansion permit. Links to request forms are found under Expanding Temporary Outdoor Opportunities for Retail and Fitness Businesses. Temporary Outdoor Dining Opportunities Continue on the City’s website.

  • Extension of Previously Approved Temporary Waivers and Validity Periods for Certain Land Use Permits

    In its continuing response to the COVID-19 emergency, on July 7 City Council extended previously approved temporary waivers for businesses established in April and May until November 22.  These temporary waivers include Restaurant Deliveries and Pick-up, Hours of Operation, Sidewalk/Parking Lot Vending, Off Premises Alcohol Sales, Outdoor Dining, and Curbside Pick-up Areas (originally approved for 90 days under City Code Section 10-2-24) with the potential for a further extension or shortened program upon a decision by the City Manager. 

    In addition, the City is extending the time limits of certain land use approvals by six months due to the pandemic. Certain land use approvals (special use permits, development special use permits, BAR certificates of appropriateness and permits to demolish) require the applicant to take an action within a prescribed time frame (commence construction, open the business, etc.). Because many applicants are not able to make the normal progress on their projects during the COVID-19 emergency, staff will not count the period of the emergency against these time limits. Applications approved prior to the declaration of the emergency in mid-March will receive an automatic six-month extension on the time of validity of their DSP, SUP, DSUP, or BAR Certificate of Appropriateness/Permit-to-Demolish. Applications approved during the emergency will receive a pro-rata extension. The six-month extension is based on an assumption that the emergency will end on September 30, 2020. If the emergency continues, the validity period extension will be expanded automatically until the emergency does conclude. 
    • BAR: 10-206 - Issuance, expiration and procedures for certificates of appropriateness or permits.
    • DSPs, SUPs, and DSUPs: 11-418 - Time of validity; 11-506 - Duration of Valid Permit
  • Expanding Temporary Outdoor Opportunities for Retail and Fitness Businesses. Temporary Outdoor Dining Opportunities Continue.

    The City is expanding opportunities for businesses to operate outdoors, based on the success of the outdoor restaurant dining program established at the end of May, as part of its response to the COVID-19 emergency. Retail businesses may request the use of sidewalks, on-street parking spaces, and privately-owned parking lots and spaces to display their products and conduct sales. Similarly, fitness and health businesses may request the use of privately-owned parking lots and spaces to offer classes and provide access to fitness equipment. 

    Pursuant to the City’s Continuity of Government Ordinance, the City Manager has temporarily suspended enforcement of certain code requirements for the use of the public right-of way – on-street parking spaces, sidewalks, parking lots – for outdoor dining. Likewise, enforcement has been temporarily suspended for the expansion of outdoor dining areas on private property, including the use of off-street parking spaces, normally required to comply with the Zoning Ordinance requirements. The City Manager is extending the temporary suspension of enforcement of the code requirements for use of the public right-of-way for retail businesses and the Zoning Ordinance requirements for the use of off-street spaces for retail and fitness-related uses.

    Requests must be reviewed by the Department of Planning & Zoning prior to setting up the alternative areas for outdoor dining, retail display and sales and fitness business use. There is no fee for these requests. The programs are in effect until November 22 and may be extended or shortened upon a decision by the City Manager. For restaurants, retail businesses and fitness uses within the King Street area, contact Alexa Powell at or for these uses in all other areas of the City, contact Natalie Brown at

    Request forms for restaurants are found here; for retail businesses are found here; and for fitness uses are found here  .

    PLEASE NOTE:  Zoning staff usually available in the Permit Center can be reached by email at or by leaving a message at 703.746.4333. Your email or call will be promptly returned.

  • COVID-19 Coronavirus related Enforcement Changes for Small Businesses
    • To support local business and access to food, effective March 19 and until further notice, the City has suspended enforcement of the following regulations and special use permit conditions that limit hours of operation, business deliveries and off-premises alcohol sales. The City will also begin work on legislation to implement temporary or, where appropriate, permanent changes to the City Code to allow these activities.
      • Restaurant Deliveries and Pick-up: Suspended enforcement of delivery regulations in order to allow all restaurants to provide delivery service and pick-up service. Delivery vehicles and customer pick-ups may use on-street parking subject to posted parking requirements.
      • Hours of Operation: Suspended enforcement of hours-of-operation restrictions on restaurants, convenience stores, catering operations and automobile service stations (gasoline stations).
      • Sidewalk/Parking Lot Vending: Restaurants and retail establishments may vend on adjacent sidewalks or parking lots. The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department strongly urge all restaurants and retail businesses, that are permitted to remain open and who choose to engage in outdoor sales, to adhere to Governor Northam’s Executive Orders 53 and 55. These prohibit all gatherings of more than 10 people and require maintaining at least six feet from any other person, with the exception of a family or household member or a caretaker. Outdoor sales and vending may only include the placement of orders and customer pick-up. Outdoor dining is not permitted in association with restaurant take-out orders. The City and the Alexandria Health Department will strictly enforce these orders to protect everyone in our community. It is a criminal offense to gather in groups of more than 10 people, trespass on City property closed to the public, damage City property, or operate a business in a manner that violates the state orders. To report any of these types of violations, call the Alexandria Police Department at 703.746.4444, while the violation is occurring.
      • Off Premises Alcohol Sales: Suspending enforcement of local restrictions on alcohol sales, including off-premises alcohol sales and delivery. Business remain subject to all VABC licensure requirements.

Board of Zoning Appeals

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) hears requests for variances, special exceptions and appeals. The BZA holds monthly public hearings in the City Council Chambers at 7:00 p.m. on the 2nd floor of City Hall. 

Special Use Permits

Uses listed in the Zoning Ordinance as Special Uses require either an administrative or public hearing Special Use Permit (SUP) before they can be established. Forms are available below to apply for SUP approval.

Zoning Initiatives and Resources

Contact Us

Department of Planning and Zoning
Land Use Services Division
301 King Street, Suite 2100
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Phone: 703.746.4666
Office hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 5:00pm