Zoning Handbook

A Chancery application is intended to locate, replace, or expand a chancery use not otherwise permitted as a matter-of-right through the Foreign Missions Act.  A chancery may be permitted in the medium-high density residential zones, high-density residential zones , and special purpose zones, subject to disapproval by the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) in relation to the criteria below.

If a chancery Applicant wishes to locate, replace, or expand a chancery in a low- to medium-density residence zone, the BZA must find that the proposed location is a mixed-use area where more than 50% of the zoned land within the area is devoted to uses other than residential uses. These uses may include office and institutional uses.

Zone Groups for Chancery Applications
Low-to Medium-density Residence Zones Medium-high Density Residential Zones High Density Residential Zones Special Purpose Zones
RA-1, RA-2, RA-3,
RA-6, RA-7 RA-8,
RC-1
RA-4, RA-9 RA-5, RA-10 MU-1, MU-2, MU-15,
MU-16, MU-23, D-2

The Board of Zoning Adjustment must consider the following criteria when considering a Chancery application:

  • The international obligation of the United States to facilitate the provision of adequate and secure facilities for foreign missions in the Nation’s Capital;
  • Historic preservation, as determined by the Board of Zoning Adjustment. In carrying out this section, and in order to ensure compatibility with historic landmarks and districts, substantial compliance with District of Columbia and federal regulations governing historic preservation shall be required with respect to new construction and to demolition of or alteration to historic landmark;
  • The adequacy of off-street parking or other parking and the extent to which the area will be served by public transportation to reduce parking needs, subject to such special security requirements as may be determined by the Secretary of State, after consultation with federal agencies authorized to perform protective services;
  • The extent to which the area is capable of being adequately protected, as determined by the Secretary of State, after consultation with federal agencies authorized to perform protective services;
  • The municipal interest, as determined by the Mayor of the District of Columbia; and
  • The federal interest, as determined by the Secretary of State

For more information on the following topics, please see the corresponding referenced sections: