Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Raymond E. Graham, Vice-Chairman, Cedar Run District Supervisor 

 February 18, 2010


Staff Lead:


Andrew Hushour, Assistant Zoning Administrator


Community Development



A Resolution Initiating a Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 2-504 to Allow the Parking of Automobiles and Similar Motorized Vehicles in a Required Yard Areas in a Commercial or Industrial District


Topic Description: 

The existing Zoning Ordinance regulations prohibit the display and storage of goods offered for sale in required yard areas in any Commercial or Industrial zoning district. This provision has been interpreted to include the storage of motorized vehicles such as automobiles and tractors that are available for sale, although the Ordinance allows off-street parking requirements, for customers and/or employees, to occur within required yard areas.  The proposed text amendment would allow the Zoning Administrator to approve the display of automobiles and similar motorized vehicles that are offered for sale within required yard areas subject to specific standards.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

For purposes of good zoning practice, convenience, and general welfare, consider initiation of the proposed text amendment through adoption of the attached resolution.


Staff Report:

This proposed text amendment seeks to allow increased flexibility in the Commercial and Industrial Districts to display automobiles and similar motorized vehicles, such as farm tractors, that are offered for sale within required yard areas.  Currently, Section 2-504.1 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance states that in the required yard area in any Commercial or Industrial zoning district that “no goods shall be displayed, offered for sale or stored, no service or activity of any kind that is associated with the primary use of the property shall be performed…and no processing or other industrial operation of any kind shall be carried on….” This regulation has been consistently applied within the Commercial and Industrial districts and precludes the display in required yard areas of any type of goods, including automobile inventory associated with car dealerships and tractors and related farm equipment associated with farm equipment sales establishments. However, a recent site plan application for a used car dealership and other zoning enforcement cases involving the display of various goods within, primarily, front yard setbacks has raised the question as to whether the Ordinance should be amended to allow some flexibility with respect to activity in required yard areas.

Required yard areas, or setbacks, serve multiple purposes: they ensure that streets and yards are provided more open space and adequate light and air, guarantee the appropriate visibility of a particular land use occupying a parcel of land for life and safety concerns, and allow adequate area for roadways to be expanded when traffic increases. For these reasons, among others, zoning regulations have historically regulated and limited activity within these yard areas. A review of the current Zoning Ordinance regulations demonstrates the limited types of activities that are allowed, subject to various conditions, within yard areas in Fauquier County: Section 2-409 sets forth various types of building features that are allowed to encroach within a yard area; Section 2-504 allows for off-street parking requirements in the Commercial and Industrial Districts to be placed in a required yard area, as well as service station gasoline pump islands; and Section 7-604 allows landscaping and buffer requirements to be placed within yard areas.

In considering an amendment to address the issue identified above, it is important to note that the current regulation found in Section 2-504 prohibits the storage of any goods for sale within any required yard. However, the scope of the proposed amendment is intended to address only the storage of automobiles and similar motorized vehicles in any yard, and would not allow the storage of other commercial goods, such as trailers or farm implements, in such areas. This is justified in part by the existing provision in Section 2-504.1 that allows off-street parking to be located in a required yard area. While staff agrees that an argument can be made that the parking of sale inventory vehicles within a setback has potentially the same impact of allowing customers or employees to park vehicles in the same area, there are some discernible differences. For example, off-street parking requirements compel designated spaces for vehicles and require related landscaping, and such areas are designed in an orderly fashion. Conversely, vehicle display areas are often jumbled in an attempt to maximize the number of vehicles that can be crowded into areas with prime visibility. As such, these areas are not always paved, rarely are striped like a conventional parking space and are often located at the edges of front property lines to maximize visibility.

As identified in the proposed text amendment, staff is recommending that Section 2-504.1 be amended to allow the Zoning Administrator the authority to approve the display of automobiles and other motorized vehicles within a required yard area, subject to those identified standards. The purposes of the standards are to ensure that the display areas function and are designed as closely as possible to those off-street parking areas currently allowed. As previously stated, although the scope of the proposed amendment is intended to address only the storage of automobiles and similar motorized vehicles in any required yard, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors should strongly consider what types of goods, if any, should be allowed in such areas and under what conditions.


Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.

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

Economic Development

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