Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Moses Coates

February 14, 2008

Staff Lead:


Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning

Community Development


Magisterial District: Cedar Run
Service District: None

PIN: 7920-47-9565-000




A Resolution to Approve SPEX08-CR-006, a Category 20 Special Exception to Allow for an Alternate Discharging Sewage System to Serve a Single Family Residential Unit


Topic Description:

The applicant requests a Category 20 Special Exception to allow for an individual sewage discharge system to remediate an existing failed system.  This request is to serve an existing single family residence (located on a 5.00 acre parcel) that the applicant will occupy.  The system proposed is an aerobic treatment plant and lined biological sand filter system that discharges to an unnamed tributary of Licking Run. 

According to the Statement of Justification and the project engineer, no other system is suitable for the soil types on the parcel.  The applicant indicated that he has been working with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) for over two years and they have provided guidance about the process.  In November 2007, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a VPDES permit (VAG406437) for the discharge.  The project also requires VDH permit approval for the sewage treatment portion of the system.  The applicant is presently engaged in that application process.  On January 9, 2008, a meeting was held with the applicant, his engineer, county staff and VDH staff to discuss the VDH permit requirements and process.  The requirements include preliminary review by the local VDH office during the Special Exception application process, and final review by the VDH Richmond office after Board action on the Special Exception.

Due to the length of easement required downstream from the discharge system (250 feet for this particular type), a portion of the discharge ditch is located on the adjacent property.  Per state code, this requires a recorded easement.  The applicant must comply with 12 VAC 5-640-450 2., entitled "Ownership and Easements" before VDH will issue its permit:

"The easement shall be 25 feet on either side of the low point of the dry ditch or intermittent stream for the entire length of the restricted access area. All easements must be in perpetuity and shall be recorded with the clerk of the circuit court prior to issuance of the construction permit."

The applicant intends to revise the previously unrecorded agreement (that dates back to the original construction of the house) into a legal easement that complies with the aforementioned code.  At the time of preparation of this report he indicated he is working with an attorney to obtain the appropriate easement document.


Location,  Zoning and Current Land Use:

The property is located west of Bristersburg Road (Route 616) in Calverton, VA and is zoned Rural Agricultural (RA).  A map of the parcel is shown below.


Surrounding Zoning and Current Land Use:

The parcel is surrounded by properties zoned RA.  Current uses are consistent with the definition that states that the district generally contains those areas where agriculture and forestry are the predominant uses.

Comprehensive Plan/Land Use:

The Comprehensive Plan land use for this area is Rural Agricultural.  This proposal does not contain anything contrary to that use.

Site History: 

The home was constructed by the applicant’s father in 1969.  (Staff notes that the original septic system permit was also a discharge system.)  This home is the applicant’s childhood home.  He inherited the property in 2002.  Since that time he has been saving funds for the purchase of the upgraded sewage treatment system (the cost is much higher than a standard drainfield and can cost $50,000+) and home improvements.  In addition he has spent time researching septic systems and permit requirements.  In early 2007, the applicant hired an engineer to perform the soil testing at the site and design the sewage disposal system.  It became apparent, after VDH permit denial for an alternative system, that the only solution available to remediate the original system was a discharge system.  Both the applicant and his engineer have been actively working to obtain the appropriate state and local permit approvals.

Special Exception Analysis:

The applicant has met the requirements set forth in Section 5-2000, Category 20 Public Utilities and submitted the appropriate application materials for the Special Exception.  The Zoning Ordinance states that a Special Exception for a private individual sewage treatment system which discharges into an open ditch or water shall be allowed only to replace an existing sewage system which is presently serving an existing use.  The applicant has requested the discharge system to serve an existing single family residence with a failing septic system.  That existing sewage system must have failed and have been certified by the Virginia Department of Health to pose a real or potential health threat and a discharging sewage treatment system is the only alternative for the repair.  VDH provided written documentation to the applicant in July 2007 that the discharge permit was their only option.  (See Attachment 1).  With any permit denial, there is always an option to appeal the VDH decision.  However, due to the poor soil conditions at the site, that was not pursued.  In approving such a system the Board may establish conditions including but not limited to use, maintenance, and testing.  Staff has prepared Special Exception conditions for consideration.

Site Suitability/Environment:

The site contains poor conditions for septic development.  According to VDH the soils did not comply with state regulations, in that there were areas of the proposed site that did not have the required minimum 12” between the natural ground surface and soil restriction, and whose percolation rates were estimated by VDH to exceed 120 mpi.  Thus, there is no existing approved system that could serve the property and discharge is the only option.

Staff and Review Agency Comments: 

Staff and review agency comments are included in Attachment 3.

Summary and Recommendation:

The applicant is requesting a Category 20 Special Exception to remediate a failing septic system for an existing single family dwelling unit.  The applicant appeals to the Board of Supervisors to consider this request so that he may move back into his childhood home in Calverton.

The applicant must obtain VDH permit approval and obtain the appropriate easement language for that permit.  This does not mean the Special Exception must be delayed.  A condition requiring the applicant to meet all other local, state and federal approvals has been included.  Should the Board of Supervisors consider a recommendation of approval, Special Exception conditions have been prepared and are included in the attached resolution.


Planning Commission Recommendation:

On January 31, 2008 the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of this item, subject to a series of development conditions.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors: 

Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached resolution.



Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Virginia Department of Health
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality



1.                  Statement of Justification

2.                  Special Exception Plat, dated September 3, 2007

3.                  Staff & Review Agency Comments


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