Zoning Administrator Advice – March 1, 2010
Does the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance (ACZO) provide that stairs are not counted when verifying compliance with Section 32.D?
Relevant ACZO Citations
Section 1 Definitions: “Main building footprint”, “buildable area”, “structure” and “setback.
Section 32.D Placement
The ACZO does not exclude stairs or steps when applying the requirements of Section 32.D. Therefore, stairs or steps are subject to the setback and encroachment limitations established by Section 32.D. To the extent that stairs or steps were allowed to extend further than Section 32.D permits as part of an approved application for administrative or legislative purposes, to include but not limited to: use permits, site plans, and building permits, such decision will not be overturned.
Section 1 of the ACZO states that the use of the word building shall include the word “structure”. Structure is defined as anything constructed or erected on the ground or attached to something on the ground. Further, the term “main building footprint” includes all parts of a building that rests directly or indirectly on the ground; and buildable area is that area of the lot where a structure can be placed and meet the minimum yard requirements. Stairs are not excluded from these definitions.
A setback is the distance a building (structure) is required to be setback from a lot line or nearest building. As stairs are part of a structure (porch, stoop, deck, etc), then stairs/steps must meet the yard setbacks as set forth in Section 32.D as well as the permitted encroachments contained in that section.
By way of example, decks are treated as “platforms.” Platforms are allowed to encroach into required yards by four feet. The minimum rear yard requirement is 25 feet. Consequently, no portion of the deck, to include stairs or steps may come any closer to the rear lot line than 21 feet.