It’s My Property – I Can Build What I Want To! 

Monday, March 18, 2024

Virginia has a complex system of zoning laws in place to regulate land use and development. These laws can be confusing for property owners, especially those unfamiliar with the regulations that apply to a specific property. Our land use team aims to demystify Virginia zoning laws by explaining common zoning classifications and their limitations.

Construction Zoning

Understanding Zoning Classifications

Zoning classifications divide land into different categories, each with its own set of permitted uses. These categories broadly fall into three main groups:

  • Residential zoning: This category designates land for residential use, such as single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. The specific type of residential zoning determines the minimum lot size, building height, and density.
  • Commercial zoning: This category designates land for commercial use, such as retail stores, offices, and restaurants. The specific type of commercial zoning determines the types of businesses allowed, signage restrictions, and parking requirements.
  • Industrial zoning: This category designates land for industrial use, such as factories, warehouses, and power plants. Industrial zoning typically has fewer restrictions on development, but there may still be regulations related to buffering, fencing, and setbacks.

Limitations of Zoning Classifications

Each zoning classification has its own set of limitations on what can be built and used on the land. These limitations are designed to protect the character of the developments that are in close proximity and to ensure compatibility with the surrounding uses. Some common limitations include:

  • Permitted uses: This is a list of the types of uses that are allowed in a particular zoning district.
  • Minimum lot size: This is the minimum amount of land that is required for each building.
  • Building height: This is the maximum height that a building can be.
  • Density: This is the maximum number of units that can be built on a piece of land.
  • Setbacks: This is the distance that a building must be set back from the property line.

Avoiding Costs and Gaining Compliance  

Virginia zoning laws can be complex, but understanding the basics can help you make informed decisions about your property. By understanding the zoning classification of your property and the limitations that apply, you are more likely to avoid costly problems and to ensure that your development is in compliance with the law.

If you have any questions, please contact Olaun Simmons at 703-369-4738 or

This blog post is not intended to provide legal advice or substitute for the advice of legal counsel with respect to specific facts and situations. See disclaimer