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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
FairfaxSupervisors may need to tweak controversial flag measure

Supervisors may need to tweak controversial flag measure

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Raising Old Glory higher on one’s property could become much, much more expensive – unless Fairfax County supervisors approve a lower special-permit fee.

When the Board of Supervisors on March 23 adopted a Zoning Modernization Ordinance (zMOD), it created special-permit applications for increasing the heights of flagpoles, increasing the heights and cumulative square footage of freestanding accessory structures, and placing accessory structures on through lots.

Because the county government did not establish specific fees for those applications, they are subject to the general special-permit charge – a jaw-dropping $16,375 – unless supervisors amend zMOD before it takes effect July 1.

The Board of Supervisors on May 18 set a pair of public hearings to discuss an amendment that would establish application fees more in line with similar types of special-permit requests.

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The county is proposing a special-permit fee of $435 to increase flagpole heights and $910 fees for the other three application categories.
County officials expect the proposed fees will have only a minor revenue impact because staff members each year field a limited number of such applications.

The county’s Planning Commission will hear the case at its June 16 meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m., and the Board of Supervisors will follow up with a July 13 hearing at 4 p.m. (That latter time is the earliest the matter may be heard, but supervisors may take it up later in the day if discussions on other topics take up more time.)

Under zMOD, flagpoles must be no higher than 25 feet on lots with single-family dwellings or manufactured homes (i.e., ones built entirely in factories). Lots featuring other uses may have flagpoles up to 60 feet tall.

The county’s Board of Zoning Appeals has the power to approve special-permit requests for taller flagpoles.

Great Falls resident Bill Denk, who was among those whose hackles were raised this spring by zMOD’s flagpole regulations, is against any fee.

“They should amend zMOD and completely drop any residential-flagpole provision, remove any requirement for residential flagpoles over 25 feet [and] cancel the upcoming hearing,” Denk said.

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