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Chesterfield County Launches Major Rewrite Of Zoning Rules

Planning Commissioners in Chesterfield County say they’ve begun the long process of rewriting the zoning ordinance. This document guides developers and homeowners on what, where and how they can build. It was last updated in 1997, with other parts untouched since the 1970s. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Planning Commissioners in Chesterfield County say they’ve begun the long process of rewriting the zoning ordinance. Everyone -- from major developers to homeowners -- looking to build a fence or an addition must follow zoning guidelines.

“We haven’t really done a significant modernization or revision of our zoning ordinance since the 1990s,” said Planning Director Andy Gillies. He says some parts of the ordinance haven’t been updated since the 1970s.

County staff have dubbed the update “ZoMod” (pronounced like Sew-Mod), which translates to the  Zoning Ordinance Modernization project

“You know our lives have changed a lot since the 1990s,” Gillies said. "How we work is different, how we live, how we shop, are all things that have changed dramatically since that time.”

Gillies said the consultants hired to help with the revision will streamline the over 400-page ordinance, now in PDF form, and move it online. They’ll add better search functions so the general public can understand the process and find answers to their questions. 


There are four phases to ZoMOD. Phase One, the "Diagnostic Phase,” started in January. 

“Our consultants have been diving into our current ordinance and our policies and they're preparing an analysis report for us,” said ZoMOD Project manager Rachel Chieppa.  

Chieppa said the diagnostic phase will serve as a blueprint for how to move forward into other phases. She said the next step is the “Drafting Phase” and will start this summer. It’s the longest phase and lasts until Fall of 2022. 

Other phases include public hearings, followed by adoption by the Board of Supervisors, which Chieppa said should happen in 24 months. After that, she said the staff will be trained on how to use the newly revised ordinance before rolling it out to the public. 

Officials say formal public input opportunities will begin in the next few months. But people can  submit feedback and questions now on the county’s website.  

In June, Chieppa said the consultants will give Planning Commissioners an update at a public work session on next steps to rewrite the ordinance. 

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.