Planning & Zoning

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Overview

Appomattox County is a member of a joint Planning Commission in conjunction with the Town of Pamplin.  Per the Code of Virginia “Every locality shall by resolution or ordinance create a local planning commission in order to promote the orderly development of the locality and its environs. In accomplishing the objectives of § 15.2-2200 the local planning commissions shall serve primarily in an advisory capacity to the governing bodies.”  The primary duties of the Planning Commission are to prepare and recommend a Comprehensive Plan and any updates thereof; and to make recommendations to the governing bodies concerning rezoning and conditional use petitions.

Board of Zoning Appeals

Every locality in the state that enacts a zoning ordinance is required to also establish a Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).  Appomattox County and the Town of Appomattox have chosen to develop a Joint Board of Zoning Appeals as is permitted by the Code of Virginia.

The responsibilities of the Board of Zoning Appeals include the ability to hear and decide appeals of decisions made by the Zoning Administrator; the ability to grant variances to provisions of the Zoning Ordinance based on strict guidelines; and the ability to provide interpretations for zoning district boundaries where uncertainty exists.   The Board of Zoning Appeals does not have the authority to rezone property or to rule upon or revoke conditional use permits, powers reserved for the Board of Supervisors.  Decisions of the Board of Zoning Appeals made be appealed to Appomattox Circuit Court.

The Board of Zoning Appeals contains five members, two of whom represent the County.  Of the remaining three members, two represent the Town of Appomattox while the final member, recommended by the Board of Supervisors, holds an at-large position.  Each member is appointed by the Circuit Court judge upon recommendation by the governing body.  Currently, in order to establish a system of staggered terms,  two (2) members serve 2-year terms, two (2) serve 4-year terms, and the at-large member serves a 5-year term.  After that, all successive terms will be for five (5) years.

Appomattox County Comprehensive Plan

The Appomattox County Comprehensive Plan is the County’s most important document regarding growth, development and visioning. First, it establishes government policy used to help guide public and private activities as they relate to land use and resource utilization. Second, it is the basis for land development regulations and decisions (i.e. rezonings and conditional use permits), capital improvement programming (i.e. public projects such as schools, parks and libraries), transportation, environmental and historical resource protection initiatives, new County programs and decisions concerning the distribution of County budget dollars to a multitude of programs and agencies. Most importantly, it serves as the community’s guide for future development and as the vision for what the County should look like in twenty years.  The Comprehensive Plan is a joint effort of the County and the Town of Pamplin and serves as the comprehensive plan for both localities.  The Plan is implemented through the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance and other regulatory tools.

At the core of the plan is the Future Land Use Map, which is a visual depiction of the growth pattern desired by the County.  It represents a twenty year outlook and guide to new development, both commercial and residential.  Land use decisions should be based on the overarching goals depicted in the Future Land Use section.

State law (Code of Virginia, Title 15.2, Article 3) requires every municipality in the Commonwealth to adopt a comprehensive plan for the physical development of its territory. The Code of Virginia also requires that the comprehensive plan be reviewed every five years in order to ensure consistency between the plan and the prevailing views of the community, as well as to ensure that the plan addresses current issues impacting the community. Although the State requirements for a comprehensive plan are few in number and relatively unspecific in order to grant localities the necessary flexibility to respond to local concerns and trends, they do require attention to be focused on several key areas of importance. The following points, loosely paraphrased from Section 15.2 -Article 3 of the Code of Virginia, summarize the key focus areas of Virginia State law governing comprehensive planning:

  • The Planning Commission of a given locality shall prepare and recommend a comprehensive plan for the physical development of that locality;
  • The governing body of the locality shall adopt a comprehensive plan for all of the geographical areas within that locality;
  • The comprehensive plan shall be drawn so as to promote the health, morals, order, convenience, prosperity, and general welfare of all citizens of the locality;
  • The comprehensive plan shall be made with the purpose of guiding and accomplishing the coordinated, adjusted, and harmonious development of the locality;
  • The Planning Commission shall first make careful and comprehensive surveys of existing conditions, natural resources, population and economic growth trends, and probable future requirements of the locality;
  • The comprehensive plan shall be made in accord with both the present and future needs of its resources, trends and requirements;
  • The comprehensive plan shall be general in nature and shall designate the location, character, type and density for the long-range land uses and public improvements within the locality;
  • The comprehensive plan shall designate areas to promote affordable housing as well as housing for those of all income levels;
  • The comprehensive plan shall designate a long-range plan for transportation, including streets, roads, parkways, sidewalks, bridges, airports, drainage systems and the like;
  • The comprehensive plan shall designate geographical areas for various types of public and private development and land uses (including historic areas, preservation areas, parks, schools and open spaces.)
  • The key point required by the Code of Virginia is that upon adoption of the comprehensive plan, the Planning Commission shall act on matters related to the location, character and extent of each feature contained therein in a manner that is in substantial conformity and consistent with the comprehensive plan.

Additional Information

You will find that a lot of questions you may have regarding a parcel of land references the zoning classification designated for the parcel.  You may want to visit the GIS portion of our website to determine the zoning of the property before going any further with the Q & A section.  If you are unsure as to how to navigate through the GIS Website, please don't hesitate to contact our office via email or by calling (434) 352-8183.  An address or a tax map number will be required in order for us to look up this information.

Also, for a complete list of downloadable Planning and Zoning applications, forms, reports and plans, please visit Forms & Publications\Community Development.

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