Yes; both the Building Code and the County’s Zoning Ordinance restrict occupancy of a dwelling based on several factors. See https://www.spotsylvania.va.us/273/Overcrowding.
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For a quick reference, you can use the Interactive Web-Based Geographic Information System (GIS). Enter either the property’s address or tax parcel number in the search bar, click “map it” on the left-hand side of the results screen, and then once the map is visible, scroll to and select the “zoning” layer under the layers tab on the top right-hand drop-down menu. To confirm zoning details, please contact the Zoning office at 540-507-7434 or via email. The official zoning map is the only official source of zoning information.
All structures regardless of size require zoning approval, and also must meet setback requirements from property lines for the particular zoning district. Sheds and similar structures that are 256 sq. ft. or larger also require a building permit and potentially an environmental codes review. Applicants should contact the Permit Center for the appropriate application form(s).
Buildings such as silos and pole barns, which are used solely for agricultural/farm use, are considered “farm exempt structures.” Farm exempt structures are permitted in the A-2, A-3, R-A and Ru zoning districts. A property must be at least 2 acres if the structure is used for non-livestock-related agricultural purposes, and at least 5 acres if used for livestock-related purposes. Farm exempt structures generally shouldn’t have living space or living facilities within them. Applicants for these should complete and submit the Farm Exempt Structure Form along with the permit application. Please note that completion of the form does not guarantee approval.
Chickens (roosters are not permitted) may be kept outside of any residence in the R-1, R-2, R-3, R-R, V, and PDH zoning districts (residential districts). They may also be kept outside of any residence on lots smaller than 5 acres in the A-2, A-3, Ru, R-A, and PRR zoning districts (agricultural districts). All are subject to the requirements of Sec. 23-5.3.2(f), Sec. 23-4.14(1:4), and Sec. 23-5.2.3(6) of the Zoning Ordinance. The number of chickens allowed is based on the size of the property, up to a total of 6 chickens. Please note that for lots in these agricultural districts which are 5 acres or larger, the keeping of chickens is permitted as “agriculture” and is not subject to these requirements.
Those interested in keeping chickens should complete and submit the Application for Keeping of Domestic Laying Hens as Accessory Use. An approved “Coop Certificate” is required in order to keep chickens.
The County does not regulate or prohibit the keeping of bee hives at any residence, provided they are solely for personal use. If there is any commercial enterprise associated with the hives, including the selling of honey, either a home occupation permit or home enterprise permit is needed.
Livestock and farm animals (including horses, goats, llamas/alpacas, roosters and other fowl, etc.) are permitted in zoning districts in which “agriculture” is listed as a permitted use in the Zoning Ordinance for the particular district. Lots must also be at least 5 acres in size. No permit is needed to keep animals, but a farm exempt structure permit may be needed for any enclosures or associated structures.
Yes, but only for certain properties. For lots within residential subdivisions which are developed and unoccupied, or for lots which are undeveloped, grass cannot exceed 15” in height. For undeveloped commercially-zoned lots, grass within 125’ of any adjacent occupied structure or within 100’ of any adjacent road cannot exceed 15” in height. For any lot smaller than ½ acre which has an occupied dwelling, grass cannot exceed 12” in height.
For properties smaller than 2 acres, 1 inoperable/junk vehicle may be kept. For properties 2 acres or larger, 2 inoperable/junk vehicles may be kept. All such vehicles must be shielded from view from neighboring properties with either a form-fitting vehicle cover (tarps do not meet this requirement), a min. 6’ opaque landscaping hedge, or a min. 6’ opaque fence. An inoperable/junk vehicle is any vehicle which cannot move under its own power, OR is disassembled or in a state of repair for 60+ days, OR does not have a valid license plate, OR does not have a valid inspection sticker (not including registered and licensed antique vehicles). See Sec. 12-20 of the County Code for the complete code requirements.
Please note these requirements do not apply to industrially-zoned properties, nor do they apply to businesses engaged in properly-permitted vehicle repair unless such vehicles are outside of a structure in a state of repair for 60+ days. They also do not apply to any property upon which the vehicles are contained within a properly-permitted, fully-enclosed structure.
Yes; see Sec. 23-5.2.2(3) of the Zoning Ordinance. Generally speaking, residential fences cannot exceed 10 feet in height, except in the front yard where the limit is 4 feet. Under typical circumstances, zoning approval is not needed for fences, nor is there a requirement that the “pretty” side of a fence face a certain direction. Barbed or electrified fences have special restrictions. Corner lots have special "sight distance" restrictions at the intersection of the streets. Property owners are encouraged to contact Zoning staff with any fence-related questions.
Official plats of properties are recorded in the Records Department of the Spotsylvania County Circuit Court located at 9107 Judicial Center Ln, Spotsylvania, VA, 22553. Not all properties will necessarily have a plat or survey of their current boundaries. If you need a current survey of your property, you should contact a private surveyor or engineer. The County does not survey property.
Food trucks are allowed to operate on commercially-zoned property on a temporary basis (i.e. they must leave when food service is complete). Zoning approval is not needed, but operators should check with the Virginia Department of Health regarding permit requirements as well as the Spotsylvania Commissioner of Revenue regarding business licensing. Operators who wish to park their truck(s) at their residence in the County when not in use are directed to apply for a home occupation permit or home enterprise permit.
The Virginia Department of Social Services (DSS) is the main licensing and regulatory authority for home daycares. A home day care does not need any County zoning approval if the total number of children is 4 or fewer, not including the owner’s children or those that otherwise reside in the home. If the total number of children is more than 4 and up to 10, an approved home enterprise permit is needed to operate the daycare. Any childcare facility with more than 10 children and any childcare facility in a zoning district in which home enterprises are not a permitted use must have a Special Use Permit approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Spotsylvania County permits businesses to be conducted from homes under certain circumstances. The less intensive “home occupation” is permitted in all zoning districts in which residential uses are permitted. The more intensive “home enterprise” is permitted in all zoning districts in which residential uses are permitted except for R-8, R-12, MU-1, and MU-2; a Special Use Permit is required in those districts. Home enterprises are not permitted in the R-MHP district.
Home-based businesses permitted by the County are subject to all applicable licensing requirements, including obtaining a business license from the Spotsylvania County Commissioner of Revenue. They are also subject to the nuisance and miscellaneous offences regulations in Chapters 13 and 14 of the County Code of Ordinances. It should be noted that home daycares with 4 or fewer children as well as group homes/assisted living facilities for 8 or fewer persons with disabilities are not considered home-based businesses for the purpose of zoning regulations; they are separately regulated by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Social Services.
See: https://www.spotsylvania.va.us/547/Special-Events. Concerts and music festivals, or any event which is primarily outdoor music-focused, require approval from the Board of Supervisors. Other events may be permitted with an approved Temporary Use Permit, the application for which can be requested from the Permit Center. Questions about permanent events facilities should be directed to Zoning staff.
The discharging of firearms within any subdivision is prohibited pursuant to Sec. 14-8 of the County Code. Otherwise, the discharging of firearms is subject to all other local, state, and federal laws. To confirm if your property is within a subdivision, please refer to the County’s Subdivision GeoHub Viewer. Please note that the “Divisions of Land” layer available on the County’s online GIS should not be used for this purpose; it is a different dataset.
All rooftop solar installations require approval from the Zoning office. Rooftop solar panel installations which are installed flush or flat against the roof are not subject to maximum height requirements of the zoning district, and may cover the entire roof (subject to Building Code offsets, spacing, and other requirements). Any panels/arrays which are installed on angled mounts such that they are not parallel with the roof are subject to maximum height requirements of the zoning district if they cover more 25% of the total roof area; under this threshold they are exempt. Along with the building permit application, drawings should be included which demonstrate the type of installation, location of the panel arrays on the roof, and the total roof coverage ratio. Any angled-mount installation must include height information.
Ground-mounted solar arrays are considered accessory structures and must meet the setback and use requirements typical for all accessory structures. There must be a structure on the property being served by the panels in order to for a permit to be approved for ground-mounted solar. Please note this does not apply to utility-scale solar (i.e. solar farms), which is permitted via Special Use Permit.
All commercial signage is governed by County Code Section 23-5.8.2 and County Code Section 23-5.8.5. If the property is located within the Highway Corridor Overlay District (HCOD) all commercial signage is governed by the HCOD standards found in County Code Section 23-7.6.9. To confirm whether the property is located within the HCOD, please visit the Interactive Web Based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Mapping system. Simply enter the property’s address or tax parcel Identification (ID) number and view the details tab.
See the Zoning Confirmations & Determinations page on the County website, and complete the Zoning Confirmation Letter application. The completed application, required fee, and any supporting materials should be submitted through the Permit Center, which processes the application and routes it to the Zoning Office for review. Submittal and payment instructions are available on the application. Please note that we strive to complete requests within three weeks, but may ultimately take up to 90 days. Applicants are advised to plan accordingly. Incomplete applications are not accepted.
Email Paulette Mann, the Records Custodian for the Planning & Zoning Office for information requests.
Sec. 14-13 of the Spotsylvania County Code governs regulatory markers on Lake Anna. Anyone interested in applying should send an email to [email protected] with a request for the application and process information. Buoys are regulated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), but the application and approval process is administered by the County. Applications are reviewed by the Zoning Administrator, Lake Anna Advisory Committee, the County Administrator, and the Board of Supervisors' member who represents the affected voting district. An approval/denial recommendation is made to DWR which will ultimately approve or deny the request based on the justification provided.