Department of Zoning Administration

Government Center Building 1 Government Center Place, Suite A Abingdon VA, 24210

The County Department of Zoning Administration is responsible for the administration of Washington County’s subdivision and zoning ordinances (Chapters 52 and 66 of the County Code, respectively). The Department provides technical assistance to the public on zoning and subdivision issues as well as to the County Planning Commission, County Board of Zoning Appeals and Board of Supervisors. The Department is also responsible for investigating violations of the County’s zoning and subdivision ordinances.

County Zoning & Subdivision Official

Cathie E. Freeman

CZO Phone: (276) 525-1390 or (276) 669-0877
Fax: (276) 525-1309
Email: Cathie Freeman
Office Hours: Weekdays 8:30am – 5:00pm

Planning Commission

The Washington County Planning Commission is composed of seven Commissioners appointed by the Washington County Board of Supervisors, one Commissioner from each of the County’s seven Election Districts for four year terms. The Planning Commission is charged with advising the Board of Supervisors on matters pertaining to the County’s zoning and subdivision ordinance and the County’s Comprehensive Plan.

Board of Zoning Appeals

The Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) is composed of five residents of Washington County appointed by the County Circuit Court for five year terms. The BZA is responsible for hearing and deciding appeals from determinations made by the Department of Zoning Administration and County Zoning Administrator in the administration or enforcement of the County’s zoning ordinance. The BZA is also responsible for hearing and deciding requests for variances from the terms of the County zoning ordinance as will not be contrary to the public interest, when, owing to special conditions strict enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in unnecessary hardship. Please Note: Any modification (division, boundary adjustment, consolidation) to a parcel must be approved by the Zoning Administration Department to ensure compliance with Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances. Failure to obtain approval will result in the involved parcels being labeled nonconforming. Building permits cannot be issued for parcels considered nonconforming until approval of modification is obtained.

Secondary Roads

The links below provide access to various documents and other resource material helpful to property owners in the development of real estate requiring the construction of new secondary streets and roads serving residential and commercial developments within Washington County.

  • 2005 Virginia Department of Transportation Subdivision Street Requirements (664k PDF) – This document sets forth the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) subdivision street requirements effective January 1, 2005. This is a regulation of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, adopted under the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Administrative Process Act. This is the latest in a series of such requirements that were first adopted in 1949. The Subdivision Street Requirements and its companion references (particularly, the VDOT Road Design Manual Appendix B – Subdivision Street Design Guide and the VDOT Pavement Design Guide for Subdivision and Secondary Roads) provide parties involved in the planning, design, development, and regulation of residential, commercial, and industrial subdivisions with the necessary references required to develop streets to the minimum criteria qualifying for addition to the secondary system of state highways maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
  • Virginia Department of Transportation Subdivision Street Design Guide (1.06mb PDF) – This document is Appendix B of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Road Design Manual and is intended for users of VDOT’s Subdivision Street Requirements for the development of new subdivision streets functionally classified as “local” streets.
  • 2000 Virginia Department of Transportation Pavement Design Guide for Subdivision and Secondary Roads (273k PDF) – This guide is intended to aid professional personnel knowledgeable in the field of pavement design. The pavement design procedures presented in this guide are for flexible pavements only and establish minimum requirements governing the design of pavements for roadways to be incorporated into the state system of secondary highways maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Floodplain Management

Washington County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In order to maintain eligibility of County property owners to purchase flood insurance, the County Zoning Ordinance contains provisions for the regulation of construction and other activities in designated flood hazard areas of Washington County. These designated flood hazard areas are established by FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Washington County which have been incorporated into the official County Zoning Map available through the County’s netGIS database. The specific County Zoning Ordinance regulations governing flood hazard areas may be found in Chapter 66 of the County of the County of Washington, Virginia (2002), Flood Hazard (FH) District Regulations. The following FEMA documents and forms provide information concerning development within designated flood hazard areas of Washington County. More information concerning floodplain management policies and practices may be found on the FEMA website, www.fema.gov.

  • NFIP Certificate of Elevation Form and Instructions – used to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with the County’s FH District Regulations, to determine the proper insurance premium rate for a new development in a flood hazard area, and to support a request to FEMA for a “Letter of (Flood Insurance Rate)
  • Map Amendment” (LOMA) or “Letter of (Flood Insurance Rate) Map Revision” based on fill (LOMR-F) within a designated flood hazard area.
  • FEMA Floodplain Management Bulletin – Elevation Certificate – a companion information document to the NFIP Certificate of Elevation Form and Instructions above.

Managing Floodplain Development in Approximate Zone A Areas – a FEMA publication for surveying, design and construction professionals as a guide for determining Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) in designated Zone A flood hazard areas. Most flood-prone areas of Washington County are designated as Zone A.

The links below provide access to forms for various types of agreements and permits processed through the Washington County Department of Engineering Services. A brief description of the use of each form is also provided.Subdivision Development Agreement – to be completed by the developer of a residential subdivision and entered into with the County prior to the start of construction of the development where surety must be posted by the developer pursuant to the County Subdivision Ordinance. (Note: Consultation with the County Department of Planning is required prior to completion of this Agreement.)

The Zoning Ordiannces documentation is on an external website. Please note that the Zoning Ordinances section resides in Chapters 52 and 66 of the document. County Law

Frequently Asked Questions:

When did Washington County adobt its Zoning & Subdivision Ordinances?

The Washington County Board of Supervisors originally adopted the County Zoning Ordinance on December 29, 1971; the County Subdivision Ordinance was similarly adopted on December 11, 1967. The current County Zoning Ordinance and County Subdivision Ordinance are set out in Chapters 66 and 54, respectively, of the 2002 Code of the County of Washington Virginia, as amended.

Are all properties in Washington County subject to the County's Zoning Ordinance?

All parcels of land in Washington County lie within at least one (1) of sixteen (16) different Zoning Districts. In addition, the Towns of Abingdon, Damascus, Glade Spring and the Washington County portion of the Town of Saltville each have their own Town Zoning Ordinances. The County Zoning Ordinance does not apply within these towns.

When are you required to obtain a Zoning Permit?

Buildings or structures in Washington County shall be started, reconstructed, enlarged or altered only after a Zoning Permit has been obtained from the County Department of Zoning Administration. No manufactured housing unit (mobile home) shall be moved on to property in Washington County unless the Department has issued a Zoning Permit to the property owner.

What constitutes a subdivision?

Under the Washington County Subdivision Ordinance, a “subdivision” means to divide any tract, parcel or lot of land into three (3) or more parts, lots, parcels, tracts or other divisions for the purpose (whether immediate or future) of sale, transfer or building development, and including two lots which involves the extension of any public water or public sewer service or results in the creation of any new street, road, easement or right-of-way, or any change in existing roads, streets, easements, or rights-of-way.

Is the sale or transfer of property between family members exempt under the County Subdivision Ordinance?

Property owners are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of Zoning Administration to discuss the particulars of any division of property among family members before proceeding. A Family division is a subdivision of property for the purpose of sale or gift to a family member of the owner of the property pursuant to the Code of Virginia and the County Subdivision Ordinance.

How does the Comprehensive Plan relate to zoning?

The Comprehensive Plan is an advanced planning document that generally guides land use development, and is advisory. The Zoning Ordinance is part of the Washington County Code and regulates the type, location, and intensity of development. Whereas the Comprehensive Plan establishes an overall policy framework for land use and other issues, the Zoning Ordinance, text and map, carry out or implement the Comprehensive Plan.

Who can tell me how the land near my propery can be used?

Contact the County Department of Zoning Administration at (276) 525-1390 or (276) 669-0877.