Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Raymond E. Graham, Cedar Run District Supervisor


  February 14, 2008

Staff Lead:


Kimberley Fogle, Assistant Director


Community Development




An Ordinance to Amend Section 208.7 of the Design Standards Manual (also referenced as Section 11.7 of the Fauquier County Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance) to Add Provision for the Issuance of Early Grading Permits to Facilitate Development of Commercial, Industrial and Governmental Projects


Topic Description: 

Section 208.7 of the Design Standards Manual (DSM) currently prohibits the issuance of a land disturbing permit prior to the approval of a site plan, infrastructure plan or, in the case of residential development, a construction plan.  This proposed amendment incorporates some flexibility in this section of the DSM to allow the Department of Community Development to issue land disturbing permits for early grading activities for commercial, industrial and governmental projects while review of the major site plan or infrastructure plan is underway. 


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

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


Financial Impact Analysis: 

There is no financial impact anticipated.


Summary Staff Report:

With the establishment of the DART program, the Board of Supervisors has been interested in facilitating a more streamlined staff review and approval process for the construction of commercial, industrial and governmental projects once those projects have been approved through the public review process.   While considerable improvement has been made to the length of time it takes for a project to get from submission of the first plan for review, through the review process, through the bond and developer agreement process to issuance of a land disturbing permit, it currently takes approximately eight months on average to complete the process and move to construction.  Often, final approval of the plans is delayed due to unresolved issues with outside review agencies, compliance with proffers or approval conditions or similar circumstances.  One of the most variable conditions that can affect the timing of construction projects is weather.  Contractors like to take advantage of good weather for earth moving and site grading.  This proposed amendment will give staff an additional tool in its toolbox to help provide a step up in the construction process while resolving final issues in the site plan approval/bonding process.

A recent example how beneficial the early grading permit could be took place this past month, with a site plan for a 60,000 square foot office building at Vint Hill.  The Countyís review and approval of this project went quite quickly and last minute changes to the water meter vaulting required additional review and approval by the Water and Sanitation Authority (WSA).  There were some delays in that review.  As we had good weather, the developer and contractor were anxious to move forward.  If we had been prepared with this early grading permit tool, they would have been underway two weeks earlier (and been the beneficiary of two weeks of good weather).

The Cross Creek/Costco project is one that will benefit from this amendment if approved.  This project currently has an approved plan for Cross Creek Drive and its stormwater management facility.  They expect to begin construction on the road shortly.  At the same time, they will be submitting the major site plan for the development on the east side of the road, including the Costco building, some in-line stores and the associated parking and stormwater management.  Cross Creek is required by contract to deliver the site to Costco pad ready, meaning all the major grading on the site has been completed.  An early grading permit for the Costco site will allow the contractor to move around the site more freely and to blend the construction of the roadway with the construction of the shopping center site.

Proposed Text Amendment

The proposed text amendment would allow the issuance of a land disturbing permit for early grading for commercial, industrial and government projects only.  It is required that either a major site plan or infrastructure plan be in the review process so that there is a full understanding as to the ultimate configuration and development of the site.  In the case of infrastructure plans, the project will need to have an approved plan of development, which is the overall concept plan for the site.  In addition, a Type 1 (field developed) soil survey is required so that there is full information on the environmental conditions on the site.  (A Type 1 soil survey is already required for major site plans.)

The early grading plan would actually be the Phase 1 or 1A E&S Plan that will stand alone but will also be part of the full site/infrastructure plan package, so that when the overall site development plan is approved, it will incorporate the early grading component.  The elements of the early grading plan include E&S controls (silt fence, sediment basins, etc.), site clearing, rough grading, open-ended culverts for drainage (but not closed storm sewer systems), stormwater management ponds and trenches, and retaining walls that are necessary for cut and fill operations.

Prior to the issuance of an early grading permit, the applicant would be required to have in place any State or Federal permits (including wetland permits) and have completed/approved any required floodplain studies.

This is a program that staff believes can be very beneficial but will also need to be monitored closely.  There has been concern expressed that the contractors will get ahead of their approvals and will continue construction activity beyond what is shown on the approved plan, especially if final plan approval continues to be delayed for an extended period.  To implement this change to the Design Standards Manual, staff would put into place an administrative process that includes coordination between the contractor and John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District staff to ensure complete understanding by all parties of what work can and will be undertaken.  In addition, a simplified bonding approach would be part of the administrative process and would include execution of a land developerís agreement that specifically addresses the risks to the developer in undertaking this early work (such as the potential for more expense for E&S measures over time) as well as the developerís responsibilities for stabilizing the land, obtaining final site plan approvals, maintaining a performance bond and similar provisions. 


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

Department of Economic Development
Development Community


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