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The best method for checking the zoning information for a piece of property is to use the County's Geographic Information System (GIS). A link, labeled "County Maps (GIS)", can be found on the County's website (orangecountyva.gov), or the GIS can be accessed directly via the County's Tax Parcel Viewer. Once you search and find the property on the GIS, the zoning layer should be turned on under the "layers" tab to see the zoning of the property. If the zoning on the property is striped, it means it is subject to special conditions called proffers. Striped zoning areas will also be labeled with a rezoning application number (REZ xx-xx) that can be used to obtain proffer information from the Planning Department. It is important to note that the GIS is not always up-to-date/current due to website updating schedules. It is also important to note that the GIS should only be used for general information and is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate. Any questions about zoning requirements or requests for zoning verification should be directed to the Department of Planning & Zoning.
Once you have contacted Planning & Zoning and have reasonable assurance about the subdivision process, you should contact a licensed land surveyor and/or professional engineer (if improvements plans are needed). The county cannot recommend any particular surveyor or engineer, but we do advise that local professionals typically prove to be more knowledgeable of local conditions and procedures. The surveyor will survey your land and draw subdivision plats to submit to the county for review. If necessary, the engineer will produce improvements plans to submit along with the plats. The Virginia Department of Transportation must review and approve all subdivisions of land, even if they are served by private roads. It is therefore strongly recommended to contact VDOT prior to submitting plats to the county. Additionally, the Virginia Department of Health must review all subdivisions which involve private well and septic drainfield installations. It is the responsibility of the landowner to submit this application to VDH along with any supporting documents. If the subdivision will be served by public utilities via Rapidan Service Authority, Town of Orange, or Town of Gordonsville, they will review the plats as well.
Once accepted for review, the county will determine if the plats are in compliance with the county's laws (i.e. the Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Ordinance). If they are determined to be compliant, the plats will be transmitted to the necessary review agencies for approval. If the plats are not compliant, you will receive comments from the county about necessary corrections. In these cases, the landowner should work with the surveyor to address the deficiencies and then resubmit the plats to the county. It is important to note that subdivision plats involving private roads must be approved by the Orange County Planning Commission before a plat submittal will be accepted by the Department for review.
Once all other agencies have reviewed and approved the plats, the county provides the last and final approval. You will then be notified that the plats are approved and are available for pickup to be recorded in the Orange County Circuit Court. Approved plats must be recorded within 6 months or they become void; proof of recordation to the Department of Planning & Zoning is required. Recorded plats are transmitted to the Commissioner of Revenue so that the new/revised tax parcels can be assigned values and will begin being taxed accordingly.
It is advised that business owners review the home occupation and home enterprise forms, which can be found under the Planning & Zoning Department's "Permit Applications, Forms, & Guides" page on the County's website. If there are additional questions, the owner should contact the department directly.
Orange County does not have a business license program. Zoning is the only local approval required for home-based businesses, but additional permits may be needed for signs, new construction, or other types of new development.
Obtaining the Zoning Permit, Erosion Control Permit, and posting the erosion control bond are always the first steps in the process. A thorough guide for new home construction is available on the Planning & Zoning Department's "Permit Applications, Forms, & Guides" page on the County website.
These sketch plan requirements apply to single-family residential projects, duplexes, manufactured homes, signs, temporary uses, certain agricultural uses, and certain small-scale nonresidential/commercial uses. Sketch plans may be hand-drawn unless the property is zoned R--3 or R-4 or if the project involves a nonconforming structure. Sketch plans in these instances must be prepared by a professional.
If the project involves the installation of a new access onto a state-maintained road, VDOT approval must be supplied prior to or in conjunction with the Zoning Permit Application.
Other uses, particularly nonresidential/commercial uses involving 2,500 sq. ft. of land disturbance or more must submit site plans (either minor or major) prepared by a professional. These site plans must be approved by the county before the Zoning Permit Application can be submitted.
Individuals applying for a Zoning Permit who are not shown as the owner of record on county real estate records must provide proof of ownership (in the event of a recent land transfer) or permission in writing from the landowner in order to obtain the Zoning Permit.
The following related forms are available online:- Authorized Agent Affidavit- Application for Zoning Permit
The vast majority of single-family dwelling construction projects will require an Agreement in Lieu of an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan.
- The application for the Agreement must be completed, signed, and submitted.- The fee for the Agreement must be submitted.- The Erosion & Sediment Control Bond packet should be read, and the appropriate bond form must be completed and submitted. The appropriate bond form will depend on how the bond is being posted (cash/check, letter of credit, or performance bond). Issuers of letters of credit and performance bonds are required to submit documentation that they are licensed by the State Corporation Commission to conduct business in the Commonwealth of Virginia.- The actual bond must be submitted with the application. This will either be cash/check, or a physical document from the issuer. Documents must be originals; photocopies will not be accepted.
Engineered Erosion & Sediment Control plans and the issuance of a Land Disturbance Permit are always required for commercial/nonresidential projects which involve 10,000 square feet or more of land disturbance. All projects involving land disturbance of 1 acre or greater are also required to obtain permit coverage under the Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP).
* Any project which results in total land disturbance under 10,000 square feet, or under 2,500 square feet in the Town of Orange, Town of Gordonsville, and/or on any residentially-zoned property.* Structures utilizing pier or post foundations (e.g. a deck or pole barn)* Home gardens and/or landscaping.* Individual utility connections (i.e. power, water, sewer, communications, etc. connections). This does not include the installation of new wells and septic fields during home construction.* Septic tank and drainfield repair work.* Tilling, planting, and harvesting of agricultural crops and timber crops. The exemption for timber harvesting ONLY applies if the area will be reforested in accordance with state law, or converted to cropland and/or for livestock. The general clearing of trees is NOT exempt.* Agricultural engineering operations (e.g. terraces, ponds, check dams, ditches, strip cropping, contour cultivating, irrigation, etc.)
For any bona fide farm, up to seven additional homes may be permitted for farm tenants, managers, and similar employees. The property owner must certify, via an affidavit supplied by the county, that a tenant house is not being built to circumvent county law.
* The first 3 digits equate to the tax map page; the first 0 is a placeholder and doesn't have any relevance.* The next 2 digits correspond to the tax map page insert, if one exists. If there is no insert, these digits will be zeros.* The next 2 digits are known as the double-circle, and typically indicate major subdivisions of land. If there is no double-circle, these digits will be zeros.* The next 2 digits correspond to the block number. These can be thought of as subdivisions within subdivisions. Block numbers are used in denser or more urban areas, such as the towns and Lake of the Woods. Zeros indicate the parcel is not within a block.* The next 4 digits correspond to the lot number. Zeros before the actual lot number are placeholders and have no relevance.* The last digit is the sub-lot. A sub-lot value other than 0 typically indicates that the lot was subdivided at some point in the past.
In everyday speech, tax parcel numbers have shorthand. Examples: parcel number 07700000000500 can be described as 77-50; parcel number 02600050001230 can be described as 26-((5))-123. Either method may be used for searching the county's Geographic Information System (GIS) to identify a property, but the shorthand requires use of the advanced search function of the GIS.