years, Fauquier County permitted family dwelling units as
accessory structures on a lot. In August, 2005 the Board of
Supervisors initiated a text amendment to liberalize the
restrictions on such units. This amendment was at the
request of Lee Smith who wanted to build a family home for
one of his children and family. The Board of Supervisors’
proposed text amendment, as initiated: (1) increased the
size of the second home from 1,200 square feet to 1,600
square feet; (2) allowed the owner to occupy the smaller
second house while permitting a close family member to
reside in the principal structure; (3) removed the current
occupancy cap (3 people) for use of the second home; (4)
eliminated the prohibition on charging rent for the second
unit during the first two years (an owner may want or need
to charge his family member rent); and (5) extended the
period in which immediate family must occupy the second
house from two to five years.
Commission held a work session on this issue on September
27, 2005 and public hearings on August 25, 2005 and
September 29, 2005. By a vote of 4 – 1, the Planning
Commission recommended approval of a significantly different
amendment. The Planning Commission was troubled by the Board
of Supervisors’ proposed increase in size of the house to
1,600 square feet. It believed that a second home should
clearly be subordinate to the existing home. Accordingly,
the Planning Commission recommended that the size of the
accessory family dwelling be limited as follows: “Such a
shall contain no more than 1200 square feet
of gross floor area. may be 600 square feet in gross
floor area or 25% of the gross floor area of the existing
house, whichever is larger, but in no circumstance may the
family dwelling unit exceed 1,200 square feet of gross floor
area.” The Planning Commission also was concerned by
unlimited occupancy of the family dwelling unit. It
recommended that the occupancy be increased to four.
Finally, the Planning Commission believed that family
occupancy should be similar to family subdivisions and have
a ten year holding period before it could be used as a third
party rental unit.
The Board of
Supervisors rejected the Planning Commission’s
recommendation as to size and occupancy limits. It adopted
a maximum size of 1,400 square feet and increased permitted
occupancy to five. The Board of Supervisors concurred with
the ten year holding period by close relatives. The Smiths
opted not to take advantage of the new ordinance; rather,
they kept their permit alive under the prior law.
proposed text amendment by the Smiths raises the square
footage of a family dwelling unit from 1,400 square feet to
1,600 square feet, redefines what is included in calculating
the gross floor area, expands the number of occupants
allowed in a family dwelling unit (from five to no limit),
and reduces the required time for family usage from ten to
two years. The square footage and capacity limits are the
same as those originally initiated by the Board of
Requirements of Other Counties:
comparison, staff surveyed the conditions imposed by other
counties on second dwellings. Among the jurisdictions
surveyed, Fauquier County is the most liberal regarding size
Rappahannock County limits a
second dwelling to 1,200 total square feet of combined
living and storage space. Storage space shall include
basements, garages, crawl spaces of five feet or greater in
height and attic spaces not constructed of trusses with a
pitch of nine to twelve (9:12) or greater. Carports are
excluded from storage space calculation unless it is planned
to close in the same at a later date; if excluded, then
carports may not be enclosed later. Such use may be in a
separate building constructed specifically for the use.
Further, excluding renovation of existing structures, no
such family apartment shall be more than 200 feet from the
main residence, except upon a written finding by the BZA, to
be recorded in the permit, that exceptional topographic
conditions exist on the site (or that a negative impact on
adjacent properties may be mitigated), such that varying
this limit shall not act to the detriment of the public
interest, upon which finding the BZA may grant such
separation as it deems appropriate. No family apartment
shall utilize a separate entrance to the property unless
such entrance is already in existence. For apartments to be
constructed in existing accessory buildings, the amount of
living space shall be no more than 1,000 square feet and the
limitation on enclosed utility/storage/accessory space shall
not apply. In no case shall accessory space be converted to
residential occupancy, and the BZA is empowered to impose
such conditions as will render such conversion unlikely,
including but not limited to floor plans, means of
ingress/egress, etc. The apartment may not be rented to
anyone other than a family member for a period of two years
following completion thereof. There shall be no more than
one family apartment per separate parcel of land.
does not allow second dwellings for full time residents.
Only guest houses are permitted.
allows accessory dwellings,
unrestricted to family members – anyone may occupy. However,
rent is prohibited except rent paid by family member
occupants. Only one accessory dwelling per lot is allowed
and the accessory dwelling can be no larger than twenty-five
percent of the gross floor area of the principal structure.
If this rule applied in Fauquier County, the Smiths would be
allowed an accessory dwelling of approximately 600 square
permits accessory dwellings. Such
dwellings are restricted to twenty-five percent of the gross
floor area of the principal dwelling. Attached apartments
may be the larger of thirty percent of the gross floor area
or one thousand square feet.
allows accessory guest cottages of
six hundred square feet. The house may be no more than
three hundred feet from the principal dwelling. They may be
only allows accessory dwellings
when the parcel is large enough to be divided into two
lots. The structure must meet the same requirements (set
backs, well and septic, etc.) as the principal structure.
only allows accessory dwellings in
cases of medical emergencies. A special permit may be
issued for six months and reauthorized for up to two years.
Continuation after two years requires a variance.
Other Accessory Housing
Note that Fauquier County also
permits, by right, efficiency apartments. Under the Zoning
Ordinance, efficiency apartments are subject to the
following standards: (1) Such a unit shall not be
occupied by more than two persons; (2) Not more than one
such unit shall be located on a lot; (3) Such a unit shall
contain no more than 600 square feet of gross floor area or
25% of the total gross floor area of the dwelling, whichever
is greater; (4) Such a unit shall be located only on the
same lot as the residence of the owner of the lot; and (5)
Architectural features of such a unit shall conform with the
single family character of the neighborhood (e.g., no
additional front doors).
County also permits quarters for a caretaker, watchman, or
tenant farmer but only in the rural districts at a density
not to exceed one unit per fifty acres. These houses are
unrestricted as to size and occupancy.
promote this amendment as a means of alleviating a housing
crisis in Fauquier County. The fair market rental for a
two-bedroom unit in Fauquier County is $1,225, and the
annual income required to make this unit affordable as
prepared by the Rappahannock Rapidan Regional Commission
Workforce Housing Working Group reports that in 2004, the
median housing sales price in Fauquier County was $347,000.
The income required, per the report, to purchase a house at
that price was $80,000. Based on this analysis, 95% of the
full-time permanent employees of Fauquier County General
Government, at FY 2007 salary levels, cannot afford (based
on their individual salaries) to purchase a home in Fauquier
County at the 2004 median housing sales price. In May of
2006, the Fauquier Democrat reported that the average home
price in Fauquier County is now $508,000.
housing units are recognized as a way of alleviating a
shortage of affordable housing, not only for the renter but
also for the owner who now has supplemental income to apply
against rising mortgage, insurance, and tax costs. A plus
side of this method (using second dwellings for rental
units), as opposed to proffers or other means of securing
affordable units, is that the program is free of government
monitoring and bureaucratic control. It is market driven.
The process runs itself.
proposal begs the question whether their proposed amendments
will encourage the building of more family dwelling units.
Twenty-three were built in 2004. Fourteen were built in
2005. Fourteen were built in 2006.
proposed text amendment was initiated by the Smiths. A copy
of their transmittal letter is attached. On July 27, 2006,
the Planning Commission conducted a work session on the
proposed amendment. A public hearing also was held on July
27, 2006. After closing the Public Hearing, the Planning
Commission voted to conduct a second work session on
August 31, 2006. During the work session, the Planning
Commission separately discussed each of the Smiths’
amendments to determine if there was any consensus or
majority on any item. On each item, the Planning Commission
found they could not support the changes. Members of the
Planning Commission did note that affordable housing is an
issue that warrants their attention but felt that this was
not the vehicle for addressing that issue. At its regular
4:00 p.m. meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously voted
to recommend denial.
The Board of
Supervisors conducted a public hearing on October 12, 2006.
At that time, the Board of Supervisors indicated general
dissatisfaction with the Smith proposal and requested staff
to prepare an alternative within certain parameters. At the
request of Mr. Smith, the Board of Supervisors did not vote
to deny the Smith proposal but allowed it to remain active
pending consideration of the alternative prepared by staff.
session on the alternative prepared by staff was held on
January 11, 2007. During the work session, members of the
Board indicated that affordable housing was an issue of
concern, but that the pending text amendment was not the
proper vehicle; any subsequent action in this regard will
require initiation of a new text amendment by the Board of
Supervisors or the Planning Commission. The Board of
Supervisors asked staff to place the Smith proposal on their
regular agenda for February for final action.