If you’re tired of mowing the grass or want to turn your yard into a parking lot, think twice. A county ordinance passed in 2002 prohibits a house on property zoned R-1 or R-2 from having more than 25 percent of the lawn (front and back) paved over. If the property is zoned R-3 or R-4, it can’t have more than 30 percent of the lawn paved over.
Lawns paved over before 2002 are “grandfathered,” however, which means the concrete can stay. It doesn’t matter when the house was built; if the lawn was paved over after 2002, it’s a violation, says Jeff Blackford, director of the Fairfax County Department of Code Compliance. The house pictured here, at 6028 Columbia Pike, and another one at 6030 Columbia Pike, had their laws paved before 2002, so there is nothing that can be done about them.
“It’s a routine problem,” says Mike Congleton, a property maintenance code compliance official. “Sometimes people make mistakes. They think it’s their property and they can do anything they want with it.”
“Most of our zoning laws come from concerns raised by communities,” Blackford says. The law restricting paved-over lawns also stems from efforts to limit impervious surfaces to reduce water runoff and protect local streams, and ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.