Permits & Regulations
Development in Louisa
An increasingly frequent question in Louisa County these days is, "What can I do with my land?" The answers vary as widely as the number of owners, but the process is typically the same.
Below is a list of questions and procedures that are very typical for anyone interested in subdividing or otherwise developing their land.
- What can I do with my land?
- How can I divide my land?
- I have an idea for developing my land. Can I do it?
- What's the best way for me to get an answer to my questions?
- What permits will I need in order to build?
- Do I need an inspection?
- How long will all of this take?
- What else do I need to know?
In order to effectively answer this question, the Community Development staff needs specific information related to the property in question. What is the tax map parcel number? What is the zoning? Is there an existing address? What are your general intentions for development?
The county has a Request for Information or Division review form that should be filled out completely. This form is how we begin to research your question(s) and then contact you with answers as quickly as possible.
One of the staff's best sources of information, other than this form, is the County's online GIS system. By using the Geographic Information System (GIS), you can search for your property's tax map parcel number and zoning from at home or work. You can also use the GIS system when you visit the Community Development department on the main floor of the Louisa County Office Building (1 Woolfolk Ave, Town of Louisa).
How can I divide my land?
To answer this common question, we need as much information as possible beginning with the tax map parcel number, the zoning, and any other relevant information. Often, a person wants to do a family division which is strictly defined by the Code of Virginia, and only one family division per family member (as defined) is allowed.
Land may also be divided into one or two additional lots without triggering subdivision ordinance regulations, if the property meets minimum acreage and existing state road frontage requirements. Health Department and VDOT requirements are the responsibility of the land owner and are handled separately from the County's plat approval process for divisions.
Any division of land into three (3) or more lots is considered a subdivision and will require the development of VDOT specification roads for subdivisions. Health Department and VDOT entrance requirements are also necessary prior to developing property, but these reviews are handled as part of the subdivision plat review process.
I have an idea for developing my land. Can I do it?
For these questions, not only does Community Development staff need the tax map parcel number, zoning, and other relevant information, but we also need a concept plan or well developed sketch in order to evaluate whether a proposed subdivision meets the regulations for that zoning district.
This kind of question may also require a meeting with staff, but the information must first be provided to the department in order to schedule a meeting. Community Development staff has meetings on a weekly basis to provide guidance to prospective land developers, but staff cannot effectively provide this assistance without the information needed to research the proposal prior to meeting with a customer.
What's the best way for me to get an answer to my questions?
Call the Community Development department at 540-967-3430 and answer the administrative staff's questions and follow their advice. Many customers who call want to speak with a planner immediately. The administrative staff has been trained to try to get as much information as possible in order to be able to provide customers with answers in a timely manner. By leaving your information with the administrative staff, you are helping the planners provide your answers more quickly.
What permits will I need in order to build?
It depends on what you are building. If you are building one single-family house, you will need a building permit and an Agreement in Lieu of Plan. If you are building on Lake Anna you will need a special Agreement in Lieu for shoreline residential development.
If you are disturbing more that 10,000 square feet, then you will likely need a land disturbing permit. This requires erosion and sediment control plans (E&S) that will be reviewed by the Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District. A land disturbing permit is required by both Louisa County and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The permit allows landowners to lawfully clear, contour, or stockpile areas of dirt, construction, or roadway over 10,000 SF in size. The penalties for not having, or following, a land disturbing plan can be stiff. County staff will work with you to achieve compliance of these important environmental regulations.
If you are not sure whether you need a permit or not, contact the Community Development department and let them know about your development plans and we will assist you through the process.
Do I need an inspection?
If you have a building permit you will need one or more inspections depending on the exact nature of the activity. The applicant is the responsible party for scheduling the appropriate inspections. The County inspects land disturbing permits both proactively and in response to complaints.
Inspections must be scheduled through the Community Development department.
How long will all of this take?
It depends on exactly what you are doing. A building permit for a home will typically take a few weeks for the County to process. VDOT or Health Department approvals are also usually needed. Due to the growth in the region, Health Department permits can take 60 days or more.
Commercial or other non-residential permits follow the same process. The County's response time depends largely on the quality of the plans when they are first submitted and the responsiveness of the applicant in getting any corrections required prior to further review. If the applicant's plans are well done and any needed corrections are made quickly, then the building permit is usually ready to be issued as soon as Health Department approval is received.
A site plan may also be needed particularly if your proposed use is commercial, civic, or is expanding the need for parking. Site plans are reviewed simultaneously with other required reviews and, like building plans, can be done quickly if the site plan regulations are met and any needed corrections are completed quickly.
Development that requires a land disturbing permit requires erosion and sediment control plans that are reviewed by the Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District. This can take a few weeks, but the process runs simultaneously with all of the other required reviews in order to minimize any delays.
Conditional Use Permits or Rezonings will take 90 to 120 days on average. Any subsequent development associated with these applications are contingent on their approval by the Board of Supervisors.
What else do I need to know?
The main thing to keep in mind is that the County is changing and the Community Development staff are trying to help you as efficiently as possible. With some patience and good information, we will be able to help you with your project as quickly as possible. Louisa County is committed to remaining one of the most efficient and effective governments in the region. We are proud of this distinction, and look forward to working with you!