In an effort to control roadside development that has already proliferated throughout much of Fairfax County, the Fairfax Board of Supervisors this week approved three major changes in laws regulating such development.
The changes cover the type of businesses that need special use permits to build on a major county road and the kind of road access the business needs. They also seek to restrict the impact a new roadside business will have on an already established community.
Under the new ordinance, drive-in banking facilities and quick-service food stores must obtain special use permits to build along major roads in the county. Previously the law applied only to gas stations and fast-food restaurants.
The new restrictions lost some teeth, however, due to a last minute amendment specifying that board review of access requirements is not mandatory, but only to be taken into consideration.
For example, a business is likely to receive more favorable consideration for a special use permit if it already has use of an access road. If it can be reached by a public road that does not carry through traffic or if it locates in an already established shopping center or office complex.
Supervisor Joseph Alexander said the mandatory access requirements would prevent the growth of drive-in banking facilities, which he said the county consders "more desirable than fast-food restaurants." Alexander is a vice president of the Washington and Lee Savings and Loan Association. He said the association has no drive-in banking facilities in Fairfax County, nor does it now plan to build any.
Changes in the ordinance also state that a roadside business must blend harmoniously with a community, both in the nature of the establishment and in its appearance.
Other changes to the zoning law that regulates roadside development on 11 major thoroughfares in the county were deleted because of opposition from the business community. THe changes would have required any new establishment to conform architecturally with surrounding buildings and existing businesses would need special use permits for expansion.