dcra

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
 

DC Agency Top Menu


-A +A
Bookmark and Share

FAQs on How the Zoning Commission's Vote on Case 14-11 Affects Permits and Permit Applications

On June 8, 2015, the District of Columbia Zoning Commission took the required final vote to approve proposed text amendments on Case 14-11, which deals with height and occupancy restrictions in R-4 zones.  The summary provides general guidance, but it is not an exhaustive listing of all changes.  If you have additional questions about how the new rules will affect a permit application, please contact DCRA Zoning Administrator Matthew LeGrant  or Deputy Zoning Administrator Kathleen Beeton.

When do the new rules take effect?
The new rules will take effect on June 26, 2015 after a notice of final rulemaking giving notice of the Commission’s adoption of the text amendments is published in the web-based District of Columbia Register.  The Zoning Commission’s notices of final rulemaking are in the form of an order, when the notice is published in the DC Register.

How will a pending building application be treated before the new rules take effect?
Until the new rules become final, there will be no change in the criteria used to review a permit application.  District agencies such as the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and the Office of Planning (OP) are obligated to review applications under existing rules. 

How will the new rules affect an issued building permit?
There is no effect on an already issued permit.  Any unexpired permit issued before the new rules take effect are governed by existing rules, regardless if construction has not yet started, is underway, or has been completed.

Will the new rules affect my neighborhood? 
The new rules will only affect R-4 zones.  To see whether your property or a nearby property is classified as R-4, please use the Zoning Map.

What are the general changes in R-4 zones after the new rules take effect on June 26, 2015?

1) Matter-of-right height for all buildings will be reduced from 40 feet to 35 feet.  A building height of between 35 to 40 feet will require a special exception from the BZA. 
2) The number of matter-of-right residential units will be reduced from three to two.  
3) A conversion of a one or two-family home to a home with three or more units will be permitted only by special exception.  There is no limit on the number of units provided that the below conditions are met:

a. There is 900 feet of land area per unit;
b. The fourth unit and every other even numbered unit would be subject to Inclusionary Zoning requirements; and
c. The property owner will also need to show that the conversion meets other criteria, such as that it not interfere with a neighbor’s solar energy system or chimney.

4) Conversion of non-residential building will remain matter of right.  Certain conditions, such as a minimum of 900 square feet per unit, will also need to be met.
5) For other types of projects (an existing apartment building or a conversion of an institutional building), additions or conversion to multi-family units will be permitted by special exception at a ratio of 1 unit per 900 square feet of lot area with regular Inclusionary Zoning provisions applying.

Which rules will govern a project?  New rules or pre-June 26 rules?

The vesting date, which determines the rules that will apply to a project, depends partly on the type of project.  Please see the applicable vesting dates below for each type of project and the discussion of approvals that follows.

Conversions to existing residential buildings to include three or more units 

This type of project will be governed by the new rules unless it satisfies one of the criteria listed below.  Projects will be governed by pre-June 26 rules only if:
• The permit application was accepted as complete by DCRA before July 17, 2014; or
• DCRA issued the building permit allowing the project before June 26, 2015.

Applications for a one-family dwelling, a flat, or an alteration to an existing apartment building (other than a conversion)

This type of project will be governed by the new rules unless it satisfies one of the criteria listed below.  Projects will be governed by pre-June 26 rules only if:
• The permit application was accepted as complete by DCRA before February 1, 2015; or
• DCRA issued the building permit allowing the project before June 26, 2015.

What if a project submits an application for approval to the Commission on Fine Arts, the Historic Preservation Board, or the Board of Zoning Adjustment?

If the Commission on Fine Arts, the Historic Preservation Board, or the Board of Zoning Adjustment accepts an application before June 26, 2015, the project will be governed by pre-June 26 rules if the application is approved.

What about construction involving non-residential buildings?

There is no change to the current vesting provisions these projects.  A non-residential project in an R-4 zone must comply with the Zoning Regulations effective on the date the building permit is issued. Consequently, a building permit issued on or after June 26th will be subject to the new regulations, including the 35-foot height limit.