PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA REQUEST

Sponsor:

Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Terrence L. Nyhous, Chairman, Center District Supervisor

February 18, 2010

Staff Lead:

Department: 

Tracy A. Gallehr, Deputy County Attorney

County Attorney

Topic: 

A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 14-203.1 to Reduce the Number of Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) Members to Five and Section 14-205.2 to Reduce the Quorum Requirement to Three Members

Topic Description:

The proposed text amendment will reduce the number of members appointed by the Fauquier County Circuit Court to the Fauquier County Board of Zoning Appeals to five.  The text amendment would also reduce the quorum requirement to three members.

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors: 

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

Staff Report:

Code of Virginia Section 15.2-2308.A. states that every locality that enacts a zoning ordinance shall establish a board of zoning appeals that shall consist of either five or seven members.  The Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance historically provided for a five member BZA.  The Ordinance was amended in 1990 to increase the number of BZA members to seven after it was discovered during the course of litigation against the BZA that seven members were appointed by the Fauquier County Circuit Court and serving terms. 

In addition to reducing the salary expenditures and other expenses of the BZA, reducing the number of members will also allow the Board to reduce both the quorum requirement of four to three members.  A reduction in the number of members will also reduce the number of affirmative votes from four to three under Code of Virginia Section  15.2-2312 which requires a majority of the membership of the BZA, not a majority of the quorum present, to “reverse any order, requirement, decision or determination of an administrative officer or to decide in favor of the applicant on any matter upon which it is required to pass under the ordinance or to effect any variance from the ordinance.”

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on January 28, 2010 on this Ordinance and they moved it to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation of approval.

The Ordinance as attached and suggested includes a resolution that limits the BZA members’ compensation to only the meetings in which the member attends at least fifty percent (50%) of the scheduled meeting, including the work session.

There is a provision in the State Code that allows Fauquier County to request that the Fauquier County Circuit Court appoint one to three alternate members to serve on the BZA in the event that a member cannot attend.  Code of Virginia Section 15.2-2308.A. states: “At the request of the local governing body, the circuit court . . . may appoint not more than three alternates to the board of zoning appeals. The qualifications, terms and compensation of alternate members shall be the same as those of regular members. A regular member when he knows he will be absent from or will have to abstain from any application at a meeting shall notify the chairman twenty-four hours prior to the meeting of such fact. The chairman shall select an alternate to serve in the absent or abstaining member's place and the records of the board shall so note. Such alternate member may vote on any application in which a regular member abstains.”  Although this option would appear to further assist the BZA with the ability to assemble a quorum, it is unclear whether the appointed alternate(s) would be able to prepare for and attend a BZA meeting with as little as 24 hours notice.   If over the course of the next year the BZA has problems with full Board attendance, the Board of Supervisors could request that the Circuit Court appoint one to three alternates at that time.

Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis was conducted.

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

Department of Community Development, Zoning Office

County Attorney’s Office

Board of Zoning Appeals

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