Community Development  |  Frequently Asked Questions
brown-horizontal-line

PLANNING

What is the best way to display my street address at my residence?
Is there a bus system in the County?
Who is responsible for maintaining roads in Albemarle County, including snow removal and clogged storm drains?
I need to get an address, who should I talk to?
What are the Development Areas?
What are the Rural Areas?
What can I do with this piece of land?
What is the "Neighborhood Model?"
I heard that the County is buying development rights.  How do I find out more?
I'm on a private well and worried about water supply.  How can I connect to the public water system?
Will placing my property in an Agricultural/ Forestal District keep development out of my neighborhood?
Do I need permission to make changes to my historic property?
Where can I get more information about my historic property?
What is the ARB?

 

Q:

What is the best way to display my street address at my residence?

A:

Albemarle County has several regulations regarding the proper display of addresses that help ensure that street addresses are prominent and visible to passing vehicles, particularly emergency service vehicles. 

  • Address numbers should be displayed at the primary access entrance on a mailbox, fence post or other suitable location that is easily visible from the road.

  • The address number should be displayed as numerals and not spelled out.

  • The numerals displayed should be at least three inches in height on a contrasting background.

  • Numbers should be properly maintained by the property owner to make sure that they remain readable from the road.

 

 

Q:

Is there a bus system in the County?

A:

There are two transit systems serving Albemarle County. Charlottesville Transit Service has bus service along Route 29 North to WalMart and the Route 250 East corridor to Pantops Shopping Center. Please call (434) 296-RIDE for scheduling information.

JAUNT serves rural Albemarle County and is the para-transit provider for the community. For additional information, please call JAUNT at (434) 296-3184.

 

 

Q:

Who is responsible for maintaining roads in Albemarle County, including snow removal and clogged storm drains?

A:

Unlike some jurisdictions who maintain their own roads, Albemarle County's roads are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).  The Albemarle area office phone number is (434) 293-0011.  VDOT also has a Highway Helpline, (800) 367-7623, that you can call to report road hazards or receive information on road conditions around the state.

 

 

Q:

I need to get an address, who should I talk to?

A:
 

 

The addressing of your house or commercial building is an automated process and should be completed shortly after the footings for the structure have been poured.  Address notifications are mailed during the first week of each month. If you are in urgent need of your address, or have not yet received your notification, please contact Planning, specifically Geographic Data Services at (434) 296-5832. For more information click HERE

 

 

Q:

What are the Development Areas?

A:

The Development Areas are the places designated in the County for growth to occur, primarily the urban ring around Charlottesville, along Route 29 North, in Crozet and in Glenmore.  They are served by streets, public water and sewer, and are the places in which the County locates new schools, libraries, and other services.  A map of the Development Areas can be seen on-line or in the Comprehensive Plan which is located in the Department of Community Development in the Albemarle County Office Building on McIntire Road.  The County deliberately channels development projects to the Development Areas in an effort to help the Rural Areas remain rural.  For more information click HERE.

 

 

Q:

What are the Rural Areas?

A:

All land outside the Development Areas has been designated Rural Area.  Agricultural and forestal resources have been identified as the most critical County resources and the desired primary land use in the Rural Area. The goal of the Comprehensive Plan is to protect the elements that define the Rural Area: agricultural and forestal resources; water supply resources; natural resources; scenic resources; historic and cultural resources and limited service delivery.

All land outside the Development Areas (approximately 95 percent of the County) has been designated by the Comprehensive Plan as Rural Areas. The Guiding Principles for the Rural Areas recognizes in policy development that all of the following defining principles are important components of the Rural Areas: agriculture, forestry, water supply, natural, scenic historical, archeological, and cultural resources, as well as land preservation and conservation.  For more information click HERE.

 

 

Q:

What can I do with this piece of land?

A:

Every property within Albemarle County is governed by a set of regulations.  There are state regulations regarding the use of land.  Further, every property has a comprehensive plan land use designation and a zoning district classification. The many layers of regulations are realized with very different results, depending on the specific characteristics of the property.  We suggest visiting the Department of Community Development with your questions, so that a thorough review of the property's specific characteristics and relative regulations can be completed.

 

 

Q:

What is the "Neighborhood Model?"

A:

The Neighborhood Model is a part of the Comprehensive Plan.  For the County's designated Development Areas, it recommends a form for new development and redevelopment that is pedestrian friendly, promotes road connections, encourages mixed use, and encourages better sculpting of the terrain when the terrain is graded.  It identifies where neighborhood centers promotes a streetscape that includes curb, gutter, sidewalks, and street trees.  It promotes affordable housing and sensitivity in how the boundaries of the Development Areas and Rural Areas are developed. For more information click HERE.

 

 

Q:

I heard that the County is buying development rights.  How do I find out more?

A:

The Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) program has been developed to protect  farm lands, open space, forest lands and other critical resources  in the Rural Areas by purchase of voluntary conservation easements.  The landowner retains ownership  and use  of the land and can tailor the easement to meet their specific goals and vision for the property. For further information, please contact Planning at (434) 296-5832.  For more information click HERE.

 

 

Q:

I'm on a private well and worried about water supply.  How can I connect to the public water system?

A:

If you are located in the Development Areas, contact the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) at (434) 977-4511.  They can tell you if you are in a jurisdictional area for public water and sewer.  If you are not in a jurisdictional area and are not in the Development Areas, in most cases, you will not be able to connect to the public water or sewer system.  If you are in the Development Areas and not the jurisdictional area, contact Planning at (434) 296-5832 to request a jurisdictional boundary adjustment.

 

 

Q:

Will placing my property in an Agricultural/ Forestal District keep development out of my neighborhood?

A:

For the period that the land remains within an Agricultural Forestal District, the land may not be developed to a more intensive use.   Landowners adjacent to an Agricultural Forestal District may be restricted from developing land uses which are not permitted by-right, and which are in conflict with adjacent agricultural/forestal uses.  For more information click HERE

 

 

Q:

Do I need permission to make changes to my historic property?

A:

No. Albemarle County has not adopted a historic district ordinance, so you do not need permission from the County to make changes to your historic property. However, the County values all of its historic resources and encourages property owners to carefully consider all proposed changes and additions to historic resources to ensure that the changes will not diminish the architectural or historical significance of the resource. For more information click HERE.

 

 

Q:

Where can I get more information about my historic property?

A:

Appendix G of the County's Historic Preservation Plan includes a reading list on the architectural history of the County.  Copies of the plan can be purchased in the Department of Community Development for $4.00 or can be downloaded by clicking HERE.

 

 

Q:

What is the ARB?

A:

The ARB - or Architectural Review Board - is a five-member board appointed by the Board of Supervisors to review proposed developments in the County's Entrance Corridors.  Entrance corridors are roads that provide access to and through significant historic areas.  The purpose of the review is to ensure that new development is orderly, attractive, and compatible with the traditional architecture of the area.  Additional information on the Architectural Review Board process can be found in the Albemarle County Design Guidelines, copies of which are available in the Department of Community Development. For more information click HERE.

 

 

back to top

 

 

ZONING & DEVELOPMENT

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding zoning and other development or issues that may be going on in the County.  If you do not see your question here please send an e-mail with your specific question by clicking this link: Zoning Question?

People dump trash in a vacant lot in our neighborhood, what can we do about it?
There is a dead deer alongside the road in our neighborhood -- who can I call to remove it?
My neighbor's yard is a real mess. What can I do about it?
I saw some kind of red County sign on a piece of land near me. How do I find out what's going on?
I want to give part of my property to a family member. What do I have to do?
I want to open a business in my home, who do I need to talk to?
We want to put up a banner for our neighborhood event -- is there a sign ordinance in the county?
How do I find out what the zoning is on my parcel of property and what I can do with that property?
What are the setbacks for fences and sidewalks?
What are the regulations for a mother-in-law apartment?

 

 

Q:

People dump trash in a vacant lot in our neighborhood, what can we do about it?

A:

If you are having problems with illegal trash dumping in your neighborhood, you should contact (434) 296-5834. The automated message will instruct you in filing a complaint which will be investigated and then appropriate action will be taken.  You can also file a complaint online by following this link Code Enforcement Complaint Form.

 

 

Q:

There is a dead deer alongside the road in our neighborhood -- who can I call to remove it?

A:

If a dead deer or other animal carcass is located in the roadway or in the right-of-way alongside the road, you should contact the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) at (434) 293-0011 to have it removed. If the animal is on private property, it is the property owner's responsibility to dispose of the carcass.

 

 

Q:

My neighbor's yard is a real mess. What can I do about it?

A:

Although there is no weed ordinance in the County, we can take action if property owners have debris or junked vehicles on their property. You should call Zoning at (434) 296-5834 if you feel that there is a situation that should be investigated.  You can also file a complaint online by following this link Code Enforcement Complaint Form.

 

 

Q:

I saw some kind of red County sign on a piece of land near me. How do I find out what's going on?

A:

Albemarle County is required to post public hearing notices on properties which are the subject of an application for certain actions that need Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, or Board of Zoning Appeals review. The sign you saw was for one of three types of public hearings. The three types of hearings are for Special Use Permits, Zoning Map Amendments and Variances. To find out why the sign has been posted, call the Department of Community Development at (434) 296-5832. A database will be consulted and you should be provided with the application type, the name of the application, the date or dates that the application will be heard, which board will here the application, and the name of the staff person handling the application.  Click HERE to search the database by either sign number or name of the application if known.

 

 

Q:

I want to give part of my property to a family member. What do I have to do?

A:

You will have to apply for a "family division' at the Department of Community Development. With that, you would submit 3 copies of a plat showing the proposed division that has been drawn up by a certified surveyor. This surveyor should verify that the new property has a building site for a new house and that the road serving the property is adequate. If a new driveway is proposed on a public road, a permit from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) must be obtained and their approval must be submitted with the plat. The properties must also be "perked" by a soil specialist and the completed soils report must be submitted to the Planner reviewing the family subdivision application.

Another consideration for a family subdivision is an official verification from an attorney in the form of a letter that states that the division is, indeed, a "family division" as specified in the Albemarle County Subdivision Ordinance.

Please note that if you are doing a family division, property can only be granted in direct lineage, meaning that the property can't be conveyed to a sibling or cousin for example. Only parents or grandparents to children or grandchildren or vice versa is permitted. Another important point is that the recipient of the property may not have recieved any other property through family subdivision from the same owner.

Also, to do a family division you must have owned the property for at least 4 years.  T
he new parcel and the residue parcel may not be sold for a period of 4 years following the conveyance of the property.

Lastly, the property created must comply with the other applicable zoning regulations, such as minimum lot size or required road frontage etc. to be completely legal.

 

 

Q:

I want to open a business in my home, who do I need to talk to?

A:

There are different types of Zoning permits for home-based businesses depending upon the zoning district you are in. If your property is zoned RA, Rural Areas then there are two types of Home Occupations permitted. A Minor Home Occupation and a Major Home Occupation.  Please see the link to each application for all definitions and applicable rgulations for each type.  If your property is zoned for residential uses (R-1, R-2, R-4, R-6,R-10, & R-15) a Class A Home Occupation is necessary if you are planning to run a business from your home involving yourself and other family members. A Class B Home Occupation is necessary if you are planning to open a business involving non-occupants as employees or using a detached structure and requires a Special Use Permit. For more information on home occupation licensing, please contact Zoning at (434) 296-5832 or click this email link: Zoning Question? To find your zoning district you may use the GIS Web application by clicking HERE.

 

 

Q:

We want to put up a banner for our neighborhood event -- is there a sign ordinance in the county?

A:

There are restrictions dealing with putting up signs in the county, with size and location of signs varying according to zoning districts. For details about the sign ordinance and the permit process, please contact Zoning at (434) 296-5832 or click this email link: Zoning Question?

 

 

Q:

How do I find out what the zoning is on my parcel of property and what I can do with that property?

A:

The zoning of a property can be seen on the map of your property using the GIS-Web application.  The uses permitted on your property can be obtained in the Zoning Ordinance for your zoning district.  If you have still have questions then contact staff below. In order to speed up the response, it is helpful if you have the owner name, street address or tax map parcel number of the property in question when you contact Zoning staff at (434) 296-5832 or click this email link: Zoning Question?.  For more information you may use the GIS Web application by clicking HERE.

 

 

Q:

What are the setbacks for fences and sidewalks?

A:

There are no required setbacks for fences or sidewalks, but they must be constructed entirely on your own property.For more information you click this email link: Zoning Question?

 

 

Q:

What are the regulations for a mother-in-law apartment?

A:

These are called accessory apartments and are allowed by right in all detached single family dwellings in the county, with some restrictions including square footages in place. Please contact Zoning & Current Development at (434) 296-5832 for more information.  For more information click HERE or click this email link: Zoning Question?

 

 

back to top

 

 

BUILDING & INSPECTIONS

I want to put an addition on my house; can I do the work myself?  What do I need to get the right permit?
I am planning to build a deck and a shed on my private property; do I need a building permit?
When do I NOT need a building permit?
What are the regulations for mobile homes in Albemarle County?
How long is my Building Application valid?
How long is my Building Permit valid?

 

 

Q:

I want to put an addition on my house; can I do the work myself?  What do I need to get the right permit?

A:

Property owners can apply for permits and do the work themselves.  In order to obtain a permit you need to have two copies of your building plans and two copies of your recorded plat.   Plans need only to show the structural elements involved and a simple overview of the floor plan.  An architect's seal of approval is not required for residential construction, unless the materials and design are outside of the norm.  You can obtain a permit from the Department of Community Development located on the first floor of the County Office Building.

 

 

Q:

I am planning to build a deck and a shed on my private property; do I need a building permit?

A:

Building permits are necessary for most structures excluding fences and sidewalks.  In order to obtain a permit, you should visit the Department of Community Development at the County Office Building with two copies of your plans for what you are planning to build and two copies of your recorded plat. 

 

 

Q:

When do I NOT need a building permit?

A:

There are some building activities that are exempted from the building permit process. These include:

  • Installation of a detached accessory structure (i.e. shed) not exceeding 256 square feet of building area and only one story is not subject to the building code but still needs a permit for zoning purposes to ensure proper setback from dwellings and boundary lines.  For more information on zoning requirements for locating accessory structures go HERE.  Find your zoning HERE

Ordinary repairs, which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Replacement of mechanical or plumbing equipment and appliances, except those fueled by gas or oil

  • Replacement of roof coverings and installation or replacement of siding (Note: a building permit would be required if it is a commercial structure)

  • Installation of cabinets

  • Painting any portion of a structure, repair of plaster, interior tile and other wall coverings

  • Replacement of windows and doors and electrical switches, outlets, light fixtures and ceiling fans

 

 

Q:

What are the regulations for mobile homes in Albemarle County?

A:

Residential mobile homes are allowed by-right only on properties zoned RA, Rural Areas and VR, Village Residential, although all trailers must meet applicable building code and health department regulations. Zoning Ordinance.

 

 

Q:

How long is my Building Application valid?

A:

An application for a permit shall be considered to have been abandoned six (6) months after notification by the County that the application is defective, unless the applicant has diligently sought to resolve any problems that are delaying issuance of the permit. For justifiable cause, the Building Official shall grant one (1) or more extensions of time.

   

Q:

How long is my Building Permit valid?

A:

Any permit issued shall become invalid if work on the site authorized by the permit is not commenced within six (6) months after issuance of the permit, or if the authorized work on the site is suspended or abandoned for a period of six (6) months after the time commencing the work. It shall be the responsibility of the permit applicant to prove to the Building Official that work has not been suspended or abandoned. Upon written request, the Building Official may grant one (1) or more extensions.

   

back to top

 

 

ADMINISTRATION/CENTRAL OPERATIONS

Where is the office for the Department of Community Development located?
What are your hours of operation?
I want to put an addition on to my house.  Where do I apply for the Building Permit?   What information do I need to bring with me when applying for a Residential Building Permit?
What is the turn-around time on Residential Building Permits?
Do I need a Building Permit, if I am doing the work myself?
May I submit plans for a Commercial Permit before the Site Plan is signed?
How can I determine if a parcel has Development (Division) Rights?
What is the preferred process for viewing an existing project file?
How do I obtain copies of plans of an existing project?
I want to apply for a Family Division of my property, where do I start? 
I work for a business that is looking to expand into the Albemarle area, where can I get information concerning processes and procedures for Albemarle County?

 

 

Q:

Where is the office for the Department of Community Development located?

A:

We are located in the Albemarle County Office Building at 401 McIntire Road North Wing, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22902

 

 

Q:

What are your hours of operation?

A:

Normal business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 

 

Q:

I want to put an addition on to my house.  Where do I apply for the Building Permit?   What information do I need to bring with me when applying for a Residential Building Permit?

A:

You apply for a Residential Building Permit by coming to Community Development at 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, VA.  An Intake Specialist will enter your information into our Permit System while you are there.  This process takes approximately 20-30 minutes not counting waiting time.  Your waiting time can be reduced by applying for your permit between 9:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m.and between 2:00 p.m to 4:00 p.m.

When you apply for a Building Permit you will need to bring two (2) copies of your RECORDED PLAT, and two (2) copies of your building plans.  Fees will be calculated by the Intake Specialist based on the information you provide.

 

 

Q:

What is the turn-around time on Residential Building Permits?

A:

The typical turn-around time for Residential Building Permits to be issued is 7-10 business days.  However, if your permit requires Health Department approval, it may take a little longer. 

 

 

Q:

Do I need a Building Permit, if I am doing the work myself?

A:

Yes.  Building Permits are required no matter who performs the work.  If you are not sure if the work you are performing requires a permit, please call us at (434) 296-5832.

 

 

Q:

May I submit plans for a Commercial Building Permit before the Site Plan is signed?

A:

No.  You must have a SIGNED SITE PLAN before you can submit plans for a Commercial Building Permit.  

 

 

Q:

How can I determine if a parcel has Development (Division) Rights?

A:

The Department of Community Development has created "A Citizen's Guide to Development Rights". You may come by our office at 401 McIntire Road to pick up a free copy, or you can view the manual by clicking HERE

This manual provides the steps necessary for anyone to determine theoretical Development Rights for a parcel. However, if you require a more formal determination of theoretical divisions rights, you may submit an Official Letter of Determination and applicable fee to the the department at 401 McIntire Road.  This application can also be picked up at our office or found on our web page by clicking HERE         

 

 

Q:

What is the preferred process for viewing an existing project file?

A:

The preferred process for viewing an existing project file is to contact Community Development (434) 296-5832 and ask to speak to a Records Manager.  You will need at least one of the following -- 1) Project Name, 2) Tax Map Number or 3) File Number.  Once the Records Manager has determined which file you want to view, it can be pulled and left at our front counter for your viewing.  Please allow two (2) business days for this process.

 

 

Q:

How do I obtain copies of plans of an existing project?

A:

Follow the process above for viewing an existing file.  Once you have viewed the file and determined what copies you need, we will be glad to make copies for you at a cost of 10 cents per page.  Please note that copies larger than 11" by 17" (ledger size) will have to be sent to an outside vendor and your cost will be based on their price schedule.

 

 

Q:

I want to potentially develop my property, where do I start?

A:

If you are not familiar with the application process, Community Development offers "Pre-application Meetings" to potential applicants to address your specific questions/concerns about your property or the application process.  These meetings are no cost to you and are scheduled every Monday afternoon.  You may schedule a meeting by calling (434) 296-5832.

   
Q:

I work for a business that is looking to expand into the Albemarle area, where can I get information concerning processes and procedures for Albemarle County?

A:

You may contact Susan Stimart, Albemarle County Business Development Facilitator at sstimart@albemarle.org or by calling (434) 296-5832 ext.3263

 

 

back to top