What is a Special Exception?

OrleanFD_SE Plat-1A Special Exception is a permit for a use or structure that is not allowed as a matter of right, but may be permitted, if certain standards defined in the Zoning Ordinance are met. A Special Exception use is one that may be appropriate in certain site locations but not in all locations; thus, review is made on a case-by-case basis to ensure the surrounding area and wider community are not adversely affected by the use. Article 3 of the Zoning Ordinance lists the uses that require a Special Exception. 

Special Exception applications in Fauquier County go through a two-step public hearing process. The first public hearing is before the Planning Commission, which makes an advisory recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. The second public hearing is held by the Board of Supervisors, which makes the decision on whether the Special Exception application is approved (with or without conditions), denied, or deferred for further consideration.

For a brief summary please see our Special Exception Brochure.

Special Exception and SE Amendment Process

1. Pre-Application Meeting

  • The Pre-Application meeting will allow staff and outside review agencies to provide initial guidance to the Applicant regarding the project, and outline the regulatory/approval process(es) applicable to the proposed development.
  • Note: A Pre-Application Meeting may not be required for Special Exception Amendments.  Please contact the Planning Division at 540-422-8210 to schedule a Pre-submission Meeting.  The Applicant is responsible for bringing a plat, Illustrative/Concept Development Plan for the proposed use and any other pertinent information such as Special Exception, Rezoning or Comprehensive Plan Approval (Conditions, Proffers, etc.) to the meeting.  

2. Formal Application

  • Once the Pre-Application meeting is held, an application may be filed.  The application must be filed no later than 60 calendar days prior to the Planning Commission's meeting. The Planning Commission meets the third Thursday of each month in the Warren Green Building at 10 Hotel Street, Warrenton, Virginia, 20186. Filing deadlines and other information can be found on the Planning Commission page.
  • No application for a Special Permit or Special Exception for any proposal including a residential use shall be filed when a Rezoning or Zoning Ordinance text amendment is required. Such related zoning map amendment or zoning text amendment shall be approved by the Board before any related application may be filed.

Special Exception Application Submission Requirements:

Special Exception Amendments also require the following:

  • 10 copies of original Special Exception submission to include Statement of Justification, Special Exception Plat (folded) and any other pertinent documents
  • 1 copy of Board Resolution 

Note: Contact the case manager (540-422-8210) identified during the Pre-Application meeting to determine if additional copies of materials are needed.

3. Planning Commission Public Hearing

  • After an application has been accepted, it will be reviewed by various County and State agencies.  Staff will send letters to adjoining property owners notifying them of the Planning Commission meeting. The applicant is required to post notice signs (prepared by staff) on the property at least 15 days prior to the Planning Commission hearing date, and then to provide an affidavit to staff showing that the posting was done at the required time.
  • Staff will prepare a report on the application. This staff report will be provided to the Planning Commission, with a copy to the applicant in advance of the meeting. Copies of the report will also be available to the public and online at the county's NOVUS Agenda Page
  • The day of the Planning Commission meeting, a work session is typically held, and applicants are encouraged to attend.
  • The Planning Commission holds its public hearing in the evening, starting at 6:30 p.m. The applicant and public will have the opportunity to speak at the hearing. After the public hearing is held, the Planning Commission can recommend approval, recommend denial, or defer the item for further consideration. If the PC defers the item, it will be brought back at a future meeting date for action.

4. Board of Supervisors' Public Hearing

  • Once the Planning Commission makes its recommendation, the item moves forward for the Board of Supervisors' consideration. The Board of Supervisors meets the 2nd Thursday of each month. Typically a case acted upon by the Planning Commission goes to the Board of Supervisors the next month.
  • Prior to the meeting date, notices are again sent and posting is required just as it was with the Planning Commission meeting.
  • Staff will prepare an updated report for the Board of Supervisors. After the public hearing, the Board of Supervisors can approve the application, deny the application, or defer the item for further consideration.
  • After the Board of Supervisors takes its final action, if approved, the applicant will receive an approval letter from staff regarding the Special Exception.  Site plans and building permits are required for any new construction.

Special Exception Renewal or Extension

1. Administrative Renewal or Extension

  • A pre-submission meeting is required prior to application submission. Call 540-422-8210 to schedule a meeting with staff handling Special Exceptions.

Submission Requirements:

  • Land Development Application with original signatures
  • $150 Fee
  • Statement of Intent
  • Assessment of Compliance with existing conditions. (For each condition of the Special Exception, provide information on how and when the condition was met.)
  • Flash drive containing individual PDFs of all submission materials - do not include any financial information (i.e., copy of checks or the fee calculation sheet).

2. Planning Commission/Board of Supervisors Renewal or Extension

  • A pre-submission meeting is required prior to application submission. Call 540-422-8210 to schedule a meeting with staff handling Special Exceptions.

Submission Requirements:

  • Land Development Application with original signatures
  • Special Exception Fee Calculation Sheet
  • Fee
  • Special Exception Checklist signed by the surveyor or engineer (if applicable)
  • 10 copies of Statement of Justification
  • Conflict of Interest Statement
  • Assessment of Compliance with existing conditions. (For each condition of the Special Exception, provide information on how and when the condition was met.)
  • 10 copies of Special Exception Plat (folded)
  • 10, 11"x17" reductions of Special Exception Plat
  • Flash drive containing individual PDFs of all submission materials - do not include any financial information (i.e., copy of checks or the fee calculation sheet).
  • Posting Affidavit (detailed in Public Hearing section)

FAQs

  • What is a Special Exception?
  • When do I need a Special Exception?
  • How do I apply for a Special Exception?
  • How long does it take to get a Special Exception?
  • How long is a Special Exception valid?
  • How can I learn more about Special Exceptions?
  • How do I obtain a Special Exception for a sewage discharge system?
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