Matt and Ben Warner can dribble in their driveway again. Their basketball hoop, which was ordered removed five years ago, was reattached yesterday to its wooden pole in front of the family's house in Burke.
The day before, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a zoning change that makes it legal for county residents to have free-standing basketball standards in their front yards.
"I'm elated that the county put some common sense into the ordinance," James Warner, the boys' father, said yesterday. "They finally have an ordinance that reflects the county's values."
Five years ago, a zoning inspector blew the whistle on the Warners after neighbors complained that the bouncing basketball in the family's driveway was making their house rattle.
The zoning change approved Monday permits free-standing hoops in front yards, provided the poles are at least 12 feet from the side property line and 15 feet from the front property line. But it forbids hoops to be used between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. to appease residents who dislike the noise.
When the Warners discovered their hoop was illegal, they went before the county Board of Zoning Appeals, but were told that in the eyes of the county their basketball hoop was an "accessory structure" because it was not attached to a building.
With some exceptions, such as statues, pink flamingos and flagpoles, accessory structures are restricted in front yards. So the Warners did the only thing they could do: They turned the pole supporting their hoop into a flagpole.
Monday's action by the board means that Matt, 14, and Ben, 17, have a basketball goal again. But it may be too late for Ben, who will soon be heading for college.
"He's studying to become an engineer rather than a professional basketball player," his father said. "With Matt, maybe's there's hope. There should be at least one athlete in every family."