1.  Town Government

1.1. Q.  Mayor: Who is the mayor of Clifton? A.  Tom Peterson Contact: tpeterson@cliftonva.gov

1.2. Q.  Town Clerk: Who is the Town Clerk? A.  The Town Clerk is Amanda Christman.  She can be reached at clerk@cliftonva.gov

1.3.  Q.  Town Treasurer:  Who is the Town Treasurer?
A.   The Town Treaurer is Lisa Wax.  She can be reached at treasurer@cliftonva.gov

1.5. Q.  What is the organization of the Clifton Town Government? A.  The TOWN OF CLIFTON is a governmental body created by the legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Clifton municipal charter was granted March 10, 1902. The town is one-quarter of a square mile in size.

1.5.1  Clifton Town Council (TC).  The CLIFTON TOWN COUNCIL is the legislative body for the town. The Town Council sets the town taxes and budget, grants or denies rezoning, and issues use permits. The Town Council is composed of the mayor and five council members who are elected, and is assisted by several appointed officials. It meets every month in the Clifton Community Hall on the first Tuesday of each month, usually at 7:30 p.m. An agenda for the Town Council meetings is posted on the bulletin boards inside the Post Office and the Clifton Store & on the web site prior to each meeting and will be emailed to all town residents. Send your email to the Town Clerk to be added to the list.

1.5.2  Clifton Planning Commission (PC).  The CLIFTON PLANNING COMMISSION is an advisory body that makes recommendations to the Town Council on a variety of planning matters including the town master plan, zoning, land use planning, use permits, ordinances, rezoning, and long-range budgetary planning. The Planning Commission has up to seven members and usually meets in the Acacia Lodge, Main Street, Clifton the last Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. Applications for use permits can be found on the town website www.cliftonva.gov

1.5.3  Architectural Review Board (ARB).  The ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD (ARB) administers the provisions of the Clifton Historic Overlay District and is an approval body that reviews and approves applications for any major repair or construction of buildings and structures in the Town of Clifton. A certificate of appropriateness is issued upon approval of landowners’ plans for the construction, repair, alteration or modification of their buildings or structures. The ARB has five to seven voting members plus a consulting attorney and meets the last Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. 

1.5.4  Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).  The BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS (BZA) has the power to grant variances to the specific requirements of the zoning ordinance if the applicant can show undue hardship unique to his property. The Board of Zoning Appeals has five members and meets as needed.
 1.5.5 Town Boundaries.  Per the Town Charter Section 2. The boundaries of said town shall be as follows, namely: Beginning at sign post corner Chappel and Main streets in said town, measuring four hundred and forty yards in opposite directions parallel with Main and Chappel streets, forming a square of one-half mile on each boundary, containing one-fourth square mile of territory.
It is possible to determine if an address is within the Town boundaries by viewing the parcel profile on the Fairfax County Real Estate web site.  The "District" field will say "Springfield Town of Clifton" if that address is within the Town boundaries.  If so, then the parcel is subject to the Town of Clifton Zoning Ordinances and Architectural Guidelines.  

2.  New Resident Information

2.1 Q. I need a building permit from Fairfax County for internal renovations to my house or building, but the County's website won't accept my application. What's going on?
A.  The Town of Clifton does not issue permits or inspect purely internal work such as plumbing, electrical, drywall modifications, stabilizations, and the like. However, you will need the Town to sign off on your project before you can obtain a building permit from Fairfax County. Email clerk@cliftonva.gov and attach your drawings to request a letter that can be submitted to Fairfax County's Land Development Services department in order to proceed with obtaining your necessary permits. See 4.2, below, for more information.

2.3 Q.  Home Exterior.  What do I need to do before altering the exterior of my house?
A.  You will need a certificate of appropriateness from the Architectural Review Board (ARB). If you are remodeling, you will probably also need a building permit from Fairfax County.

2.4 Q.  Storm Windows.  Do I need approval to add storm windows or to repair my front steps? A.  Not unless a Fairfax County building permit is required.

2.5 Q.  Home Remodeling.  What do I need if I want to add a room to my house?A.  You will need to obtain a use permit from the Town Planning Commission. You must submit your design plans to the ARB for a certificate of appropriateness. If you are building in the setbacks, you will need a zoning variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals. You will also need a Fairfax County building permit.

2.6 Q.  New Home.  Can I build a new house on a vacant lot in town? A.  Yes, if the lot meets the size requirements of the zoning ordinance and if the lot will be adequate for a septic field and a water well. The public sewer is available only to existing buildings that meet the County of Fairfax administrative guidelines; approval for hookup to the sewer for existing buildings is required from the County of Fairfax.

2.7 Q.  Storage Buildings.  I heard that if I build a shed less than 100 square feet, I don't need a Use Permit. Is that true? 
A.  You do need to obtain a Use Permit from the Town Planning Commission to verify that the shed or ancillary building complies with the setbacks - no structure except a fence can be erected in the setback areas of a lot. You must obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the ARB if the shed/building is 100 square feet or more in floor area.

2.8 Q.  Fence.  What do I need to build a fence? A.  The ARB must review your plans and issue a certificate of appropriateness prior to building the fence. A fence over 6’ also requires a use permit from the Town Planning Commission.


3.  New Business Information

3.1 Q.  Open a Business.  What do I need to do to open a business in Clifton? A.  Normally a business has to be located in a commercial or industrial district. There is an exception, however, for home businesses. You will need to obtain a use permit from the Town Planning Commission and a business, professional and occupational license from the Town Treasurer. 

3.2 Q.  Home Business.  Do I need approval to operate a business out of my home?
A.  Yes. You must obtain a use permit from the Town Planning Commission. You will usually be required to meet the following criteria:
a.1. Business is ancillary to the primary use of the dwelling.
a.2. Dwelling is the residence of the owner(s) of the business.
a.3. Area of the business is less than 25 percent of gross floor space.
a.4. Business has no more than six customer or pickup visits per day.
a.5. No signs of identification are permitted.
a.6. Business is consistent with the purpose and intent of the Historic Overlay District.
a.7. Hours of operation are subject to approval of the Town Planning Commission as part of the Use Permit Application.

3.3 Q. Business License.  Is a business license required for each business established in the Town of Clifton? A.  The Town of Clifton levies a BUSINESS, PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSE (BPOL) TAX on all businesses that operate in the town, including home businesses. This tax is paid to the town, and the businesses do not have to pay a similar tax to the County of Fairfax. The Town of Clifton levies no real estate or personal property tax at present. Contact the Town Treasurer for answers to any questions concerning town taxes.

4.  General Zoning and Construction Questions

4.1  Q.  Build or Remodel.  What construction issues will be encountered when building or remodeling in the Town? A.  Prior to the construction or renovation of a building in the Town of Clifton, the landowner must obtain a use permit from the Planning Commission/Clifton Town Council, a certificate of appropriateness from the Clifton Architectural Review Board (ARB), and a building permit from Fairfax County. No construction can begin before all the permitting requirements are satisfied with the Planning Commission /TC (use permit), ARB (appropriateness), and County (building permit). Fairfax County building Department will not accept an application from a Clifton resident without the permits outlined here and the signature by the Mayor, Town of Clifton. Once construction is complete, the applicant must return to the Planning Commission/ARB/Town Council to demonstrate that all conditions of the Preliminary Use Permit have been satisfied so that a Final Use Permit can be issued.

4.2 Q.  Building Permit.  What is a Building Permit? A.  A BUILDING PERMIT must be obtained from Fairfax County prior to the commencement of any construction. The building permit will not be granted unless the applicant shows his certificate of appropriateness and his use permit from the town. In addition, the mayor or his designated representative must sign the application of the building permit before submitting it to the county.

4.3 Q.  Use Permit. What is a Use Permit? A.  USE PERMITS are required for a variety of new uses, or for changes to approved uses. For example, use permits are required to open a home business, to change the intensity of use of an existing commercial or home business, to build an addition to an existing structure, to erect a new structure or building, and to subdivide property.

The application for a use permit must be made to the Town Clerk along with an application fee at least 15 days before the Town Planning Commission meeting at which the matter will be discussed. Application fees are as follows: 

1) $250.00, for adding to existing buildings, or new residential construction other than new homes, where the addition or new construction costs over $25,000.00;   2) $500.00, for new home or commercial construction;    3) $250.00 plus all costs for advertising for new special use permits in the Commercial District under Sec.9‐21(a)(5) and new Bed & Breakfast use permits in the Residential District under Sec. 9‐18(c)(K); 4) $75.00 plus all costs for advertising for any amendment to a special use permit in the Commercial District under Sec.9‐21(a)(5) or amendment to a Bed & Breakfast use permit in the Residential District under Sec.9‐18(c)(1)(K); or 5) $75.00, for all other construction, and any other use permit.

Ten copies of the application must also be delivered to the Planning Commission at least 15 days before the Planning Commission meeting. When the application is in order, the Planning Commission discusses the matter and recommends action to the Town Council. The Town Council then considers the application and grants or denies the application. The applicant or his representative must be present at both the Planning Commission and the Town Council meetings and must provide notices for both.

4.4 Q.  Certificate of Appropriateness.  What is a Certificate of Appropriateness? A.  CERTIFICATES OF APPROPRIATENESS are required for the demolition of existing buildings and structures, for restoration and/or additions to existing buildings and structures, and for erection of new buildings and structures, signs, fences, and sheds.

Seven copies of the application for a certificate of appropriateness must be made to the chairman of the Architectural Review Board with the appropriate filing fee: for existing residential or commercial remodeling and additions - $10 before construction begins, $25 after construction is started; for new residential or commercial construction - $250 plus any other costs. The application must include a plat plan, design sketches, and certain other information as set forth in the town ordinances. The ARB reviews the application and then grants or denies the certificate of appropriateness. 

4.5  Q. Zoning Variance.  How do I request a Zoning Variance?
If a variance to the zoning ordinance is sought, APPLICATION FOR A ZONING VARIANCE must be made to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The application must be filed with the chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals and must state the justification for the requested variance and other information, as required in the zoning ordinance.

4.6 Q.  What are the important Land Use matters of the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances? A.  Land use in the Town of Clifton is regulated by the ZONING ORDINANCE and SUBDIVISION ORDINANCE of the Town. Clifton has been designated an historic district on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places and has greater land use restrictions than some parts of Fairfax County.

The town is divided into zoning categories - residential, commercial, agricultural, Community Open Space and Recreation, Low Impact Commercial and industrial. A business is not allowed in a residential zone, except as a home business. The zoning ordinance places restrictions on the location and use of buildings and should be consulted before construction of a building. Copies of the zoning ordinance can be obtained from the Town Clerk.

A landowner can request REZONING for his property. He must file an application with an application fee with the Town Clerk, at which time the rezoning is advertised in the newspapers. Then public hearings are held before the Planning Commission and the Town Council. The Planning Commission makes a recommendation, which is then acted upon by the Town Council.

The town has adopted a COMPREHENSIVE LAND USE PLAN that states how the town should grow in the future. Copies of the CLIFTON TOWN PLAN is on the web site or can be obtained from the Town Clerk. 

The BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS (BZA) has the power to grant variances to the specific requirements of the zoning ordinance if the applicant can show undue hardship unique to his property. The Board of Zoning Appeals has five members and meets as needed.

5.  Other Organizations in Town

5.1 Q.  Clifton Betterment Association (CBA).  What is the Clifton Betterment Association? A brief description follows -- further information is available at www.cliftonva.org
. 5.1.1  History and Purpose.   The Clifton Betterment Association (CBA) was formed over 40 years ago to help preserve the small town atmosphere of historic Clifton, to sponsor community activities for its members and friends, and to offer other community services such as a quarterly newsletter and this directory.

5.1.2  CBA Events.  Here are some of the CBA’s annual “doings”:
    * Annual Birthday Celebration
    * Clifton Cup Golf Tournament
    * Clifton Caboose 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run
    * Fourth of July Parade and Picnic
    * Clifton Day
    * Children's Holiday Party

5.1.3  Membership.  Membership is open to all residents of the Town of Clifton and the Clifton Elementary School district and to the businesses located in the town. Don't let a friend or newcomer to the area miss out on the upcoming activities. Print a membership form from the website for your friends. 

5.1.4. Officers.
             Michelle Stein - President
             Jan Schneiderman - Second Vice President
             Steve Bittner - First Vice President
             Chris Spina - Secretary
             Anthony Reid - Treasurer