Owner/Applicant:                                                       Board Meeting Date:

Meadow Outdoors Foundation, and                             February 18, 2003

Arthur W. Arundel

Staff Lead:                                                                 Department:

Robert C. Counts                                                         Community Development

Magisterial District:  Scott                                        PIN(s):

Service District: None                                               6978-95-2610-000

Topic:   Consider Special Exception Request #SER03-S-01:  Renewal of Category 9, Special Exception for Outdoor Recreation, Meadow Outdoors Foundation, Applicant

Topic Description:

Great Meadow is a field events and open space environmental facility near The Plains, Virginia. It was established in 1983 and has operated successfully since 1984 as family oriented venue for outdoor spectator and non-spectator activities. The Meadow Outdoors Foundation (MOF) operates the facility primarily for the benefit of the Fauquier County community. MOF is a non-profit organization under Sec. 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Service Code.

The applicant is requesting the renewal of the 5-year Special Exception granted in December of 1997. This Special Exception allowed for the use of the property for a variety of Class A, Class B, and Class C events, subject to the continuation of existing conditions.

Land Area, Location and Zoning:                                                    

The subject property consists of ± 209 acres zoned RA (Agricultural). The Meadow Outdoors Foundation owns approximately 169 acres. The balance, ± 40 acres, is leased by the Foundation from the co-applicant, Arthur W. Arundel. The property is located in the southeast quadrant of the intersection of Route 17 and Virginia Route 245 ( Old Tavern Road ). With the exception of property immediately north of Route 245, which is zoned and partially developed in R-1 residential, the property is surrounded by land zoned RA.

Action Requested of the Board of Supervisors:

Consider adoption of the attached resolution.

Staff Analysis:

Staff and appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and other relevant policies and regulations. Staff and referral agency findings, comments, and recommendations are summarized below.

Requirements of the Zoning Ordinance

Section 5-006 of the Zoning Ordinance defines the General Standards that must be met for all Special Exceptions. All proposed Special Exception uses are required to also satisfy the following general standards:

  1. The proposed use shall be such that it will not adversely affect the use or development of neighboring properties. It shall be in accordance with the applicable zoning district regulations and the applicable provisions of the adopted Comprehensive Plan. The location, size and height of buildings, structures, walls and fences, and the nature and extent of screening, buffering and landscaping shall be such that the use will not hinder or discourage the appropriate development and/or use of adjacent or nearby land and/or buildings or impair the value thereof.
  2. The proposed use shall be such that pedestrian and vehicular traffic generated will not be hazardous or conflict with the existing and anticipated traffic in the neighborhood and on the streets serving the site.
  3. In addition to the standards which may be set forth in this Article for a particular category or use, the BZA and Board may require landscaping, screening, yard requirements or other limitations found to be necessary and appropriate to the proposed use and location.
  4. Open space shall be provided in an amount at least equal to that specified for the zoning district in which the proposed use is located.
  5. Adequate utility, drainage, parking, loading and other necessary facilities to serve the proposed use shall be provided. Parking and loading requirements shall be in accordance with the provisions of Article 7.
  6. The provisions of Article 8 shall regulate signs, except as may be qualified in the parts that follow for a particular category or use. However, the BZA and the Board, under the authority presented in Section 7, may impose more strict standards for a given use than those set forth in this Ordinance.
  7. The future impact of a proposed use will be considered and addressed in establishing a time limit on the permit, if deemed appropriate.
  8. The Comprehensive Plan shall be among the factors used in assessing the future impact of the proposed use and whether reconsideration of the permit after a stated period of time would be necessary and appropriate for the protection of properties in the vicinity and to ensure implementation of the Comprehensive Plan.
  9. The proposed use shall be such that air quality, surface and groundwater quality and quantity, are not degraded or depleted to an extent that would hinder or discourage the appropriate development and/or use of adjacent or nearby land and/or buildings or impair the value thereof.
  10. Except as provided in this Article, all uses shall comply with the lot size, bulk regulations, and performance standards of the zoning district in which it is located.

In addition to these general standards, this Special Exception, if granted, will require compliance with Sections 5-914, 5-915, and 5-916 of the Zoning Ordinance. These Sections detail the specific standards for Class “A, B and C” events respectively. They are summarized for the Board’s reference and presented as Attachment 2.

Additional Zoning-Related Comments

The proposed Special Exception renewal shows no new structures or an increase in any area as shown with the previously approved Special Exception.  Staff has examined the applicant’s compliance with ordinance requirements relating to the use of lighting and sound systems. The Zoning Administrator and several members of the Zoning Office staff agree that there is no reason to believe that the Great Meadow facility is not in compliance with the ordinance requirements governing the use of outdoor lighting and sound systems. While the Zoning staff has not conducted inspections or testing of lighting and sound equipment at Great Meadow, they were involved in the original approval of this equipment and have no reason to believe that it has been altered. The Zoning staff further reported that the most reliable indicator of problems with lighting and sound equipment is the number of complaints received from adjacent property owners. The Zoning Office has received no complaints relating to the operation of the Great Meadow facility.     


Great Meadow is bordered on the south by Route 17, a four-lane arterial highway, and on the west by Route 245.  Both provide access to I-66. Traffic management for large events is coordinated by MOF with the Virginia State Police, Fauquier Sheriff’s Office and VDOT. Traffic slowdowns are anticipated only during Class “A” events drawing over 5,000 cars, such as during the Virginia Gold Cup in May and International Gold Cup in October. Admission from the public highways into Great Meadow will be directed by the Fauquier Sheriff’s Office. All traffic and public safety plans and arrangements will be coordinated for all events by the MOF Public Health and Safety Coordinator with appropriate public officials.  Parking will not be permitted on public roads or streets.

The VDOT Warrenton Residency staff reviewed the above referenced Special Exception renewal and commented that the information provided appears to indicate that no changes are being made to the current usage. The entrances to Route 17 and 245 shown on the proposed plan already exist and, to VDOT’s knowledge, have been functioning adequately.  The Meadow Outdoors Foundation has worked with the VDOT office to coordinate events.           

Summary and Planning Commission Recommendation:

The Great Meadow facility has been operating successfully since 1984.  For the last five years, it has continued to operate successfully under the conditions imposed by the Board of Supervisors in November of 1997 when the Special Exception was last renewed. The current application for renewal does not propose any new or expanded activity for the property, nor does it propose any changes to the current conditions. However, in order to underscore its concern for the continued compliance with issues related to lighting, and its concern for best possible control of traffic at larger events, the Planning Commission has proposed two additions to the previous Special Exception Conditions. At its regular meeting on January 23, 2003 , the Planning Commission voted to forward a recommendation of approval for SER03-S-01 subject to the following conditions. The new conditions suggested by the Planning Commission are presented in bold text and underscored.

1.      The Applicant shall be limited to an annual total of:

·        Eight (8) Class A events, of which no more than five (5) shall have cumulative attendance over 25,000

·        No more than one of the eight (8) Class A events shall be held in any one (1) month except in the month of July in which two Class A events may be held

·        Nine (9) Class B events

·        Unlimited Class C events

·        One Special Exception Horse Show may be held

2.      Sound

  1. The General Grounds Sound System (the largest sound system on the premises) incorporating the Stewards Stand System, the Members Hill System and the Course Perimeter System shall not be used at more than three events per year.
  2. The Stewards Stand system may be used for any Class A, B or C event.
  3. Members Hill and/or Arena/Stadium Sound Systems may not be used more than eight days per month.
  4. Members Hill and/or Arena Sound Systems may be used after 6:00 P.M. only one night per week and only during the months of April through November, except this limitation shall not apply to the 4th of July, the Spring and Fall Gold Cup Races and the Special Exception horse show.
  5. No sound system will be activated prior to 8:00 A.M. or remain active after 11:00 P.M. or after the permitted event has ended.
  6. Sound systems (excepting small individual portables) may only be used at events, except briefly for sound testing purposes.
  7. Sound systems may not be expanded or enlarged so as to increase the decibel level or area of coverage beyond that which exists as of the date of the granting of this exception.
  8. Cannon sounds or progressive metal music are prohibited.

3.      Lighting

A.     No outdoor lighting system, other than standard floodlights attached to permanent structures, may be used on the premises except the lights on the arena/stadium, which lights shall be further regulated as follows:

1)      Arena/Stadium lights shall be used for events and shall be extinguished no later than 11:00 P.M.

2)      Arena/Stadium lighting system will be used no more than four (4) days per month plus ten additional days as allocated by the applicant and only through the months of April through November, except for testing purposes.

3)      There shall be no expansion of the existing arena/stadium lighting system.

B.     All lights will be shielded so that the source of light is not visible beyond the property boundary.

  1. Any replacement or installation of outdoor lighting fixtures or standards during the term of the this Special Exception must comply with the most current Performance Standards for Outdoor Lighting Control as contained in Article 9 of the Zoning Ordinance.

4.      The arena/stadium will only be used for equestrian and/or animal (non-human) oriented events throughout the year.

5.      With the exception of during the 4th of July Event, no aircraft or helicopters shall land on the premises except for health, safety, emergency preparedness at the request of the State or Federal Law Enforcement Agency, or for spraying purposes.

6.      No fireworks displays will be held on the premises, except on the 4th of July, and no light displays of any kind or nature shall be held on the property at any time.

7.      Only one (1) Hot Air Balloon event is to be included in the number of events allowed under Class A, B or C held on the premises annually and all balloons on the premises must be tethered.

8.      Building Limits

  1. Total permitted structures on the premises shall not exceed 20,000 square feet in area.
  2. Any structures must comply with Fauquier County building codes and building permit requirements.
  3. All structures shall be constructed of materials and colored so as to harmonize with the natural landscape.
  4. Additional permanent structures built on the premises shall be restricted to those necessary for maintenance and security of the site.

9.      Highway

The applicant shall comply with all requirements of the Virginia Department of Transportation. Traffic control for all events having anticipated attendance in excess of 2500 persons must be coordinated with the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Department.

10.  Health

The applicant shall comply with all requirements of the Fauquier County Health Department including fire safety.

11.  Public Safety

All Class A, B & C events shall be approved in advance by the Office of Emergency Services in compliance with Sections 5-914.6, 5-915.6 and 5-916.6 of the Zoning Ordinance. The applicant shall specify the type and number of rescue equipment and public safety personnel to ensure that adequate services are maintained on site at all times. Every effort will be made to hire local public safety personnel where feasible.

12.  Other Permits

The applicant shall apply for no other zoning permit from the Board of Supervisors and the Board of Zoning Appeals during the term of this Special Exception, except as necessary to allow one horse show per year for a maximum duration of five days and a maximum attendance of 5,000 people.

13.  Terms

This permit is issued for a period of five (5) years commencing with the month in which the Board of Supervisors approves it and ending at the end of that same month five (5) years hence.


  1. Board Resolution Approving SER03-S-01

  2.  Summary Of Zoning Ordinance Standards For Class “A, B, And C” Events