Section 2-705.1 of the Zoning Ordinance, related to
non-common open space, limits uses on properties with
non-common open space to those listed as Category 18,
Agricultural Uses, in Section 3-318 of the Ordinance.
Recorded non-common open space easements contain this
explicit language limiting uses on the property to those
identified in Section 3-318 of the Ordinance.
An issue recently arose where a property owner, Reta
Rodgers, sought to hold equestrian events at Eastwood Farm,
located on Old Auburn Road directly across from the Fauquier
County Fairgrounds. The property has a non-common open
space easement that was approved by the Board of Supervisors
in 2005. Under the existing Zoning Ordinance regulations,
the proposed type of equestrian events could potentially be
authorized under either the Equestrian Facilities or
Spectator and Non-Spectator Field Events uses in
Category 9 (Outdoor Recreation) of the Zoning Ordinance:
3-309.8 Equestrian Facilities (boarding and
3-309.9 Equestrian Facilities (boarding and
instruction) (spectator facilities);
3-309.14 Spectator and Non-Spectator Field Events
3-309.15 Spectator and Non-Spectator Field Events
3-309.16 Spectator and Non-Spectator Field Events
In each of the use categories listed above, approval of any
equestrian event would require a special exception.
However, because the Rodgers property is in a non-common
open space easement, these Category 9 uses are not available
to the property. The request raised the issue of whether or
not equestrian activities, including boarding/instruction
facilities and equestrian events such as horse shows,
steeple chases, etc., should be allowed on properties in a
non-common open space easement. It further raises the
question as to the amount and extent of equestrian related
events allowed under each of the existing categories in
Section 3-309 of the Zoning Ordinance, as the different use
categories and standards do not clearly establish a
As the text amendment moved through the Planning Commission
and Board of Supervisors’ public hearing process, broader
questions were raised about the Zoning Ordinance treatment
of equestrian activities in general. Concerns were raised
that the proposed amendments might make activities that have
occurred for years in the County illegal and an assessment
of the words of the Ordinance relative to existing
activities did suggest that there were many activities
already occurring in the County that would not clearly be
allowed under either the existing Ordinance or the
originally proposed language. Additional amendments have
been made to the originally proposed amendment to provide
more flexibility for equestrian activities in the County, in
recognition of this history and the importance of equestrian
activity in the County.
The current proposal:
1. Allows boarding and limited training (maximum of 10 people per
week) by-right in all districts where a Horse Farm is
allowed (RC, RA, RR-2, V, R-1). This is accomplished by
creating a definition for Horse Farm which includes
boarding and the limited training.
2. Allows more intensive instruction (over 10 people a week) and
non-sanctioned training events and shows associated with
such instruction by-right in the RA district and with
approval of a special permit in all districts where Horse
Farms are allowed, except that a special exception is
required where property is in non-common open space.
(Note: The Special Permit requirement automatically
becomes a Special Exception requirement where property is
located in non-common open space, pursuant to Section
3. Creates a new sub-category of equestrian events classified under
agricultural uses, which can be approved in the RA district
by Special Exception, including on-non-common open space.
Horse shows are defined to be those types of events
occurring within a confined area such as a ring or arena and
where spectators are non-paying, primarily friends and
family of the participants.
4. Leaves all other Equestrian Events to be approved under the
Outdoor Recreation Class A, B & C use categories, with
approval of a Special Exception.
The proposed text amendment makes no changes to the
Ordinance that would affect hunting or point-to-point
The Board of Supervisors initiated the proposed text
amendment on August 13, 2009. The Planning Commission held
public hearings on the issue on September 24, 2009, October
29, 2009 and December 9, 2009 and unanimously recommended
approval of the proposed amendment on December 9, 2009.
The Board of Supervisors held an initial public hearing on
this item on January 14, 2010.