Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:


Planning Commission


March 9, 2006

Staff Lead:



W. Todd Benson, Assistant Zoning Administrator


Community Development



A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 13-406 to Grant Exemptions to Minimum Lot Width, Minimum Lot Frontage, Minimum Setback Requirements, and Certain Residential Height Requirements, to Delete Certain Variance Authority Delegated to the Zoning Administrator and the Board of Zoning Appeals, and to Amend Sections 2-413, 2-505, and 3-324 for Consistency With These Changes


Topic Description:


Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance Section 13-406 allows the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Zoning Administrator to grant certain variances based upon mistake.  This amendment eliminates those classes of variance and substitutes an “exemption” authority with the Zoning Administrator.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:


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


Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.


Summary Staff Report:


At present, the Zoning Ordinance permits the Zoning Administrator and the Board of Zoning Appeals to grant variances to the minimum yard requirements in the case of any building existing or partially constructed which did not comply with such requirements applicable at the time such building was erected.  Statutory authority for such variances has always been questionable; the door was closed on such variances when the Virginia Supreme Court decided Cochran v. Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals in July 2004.  In that opinion, the Virginia Supreme Court emphasized that the General Assembly intended that variances be granted only in cases where application of zoning restrictions would appear to be constitutionally impermissible.


The General Assembly responded by amending the Virginia Code to allow zoning administrators to grant exemptions under standards different than the traditional variance standards. That Code section is attached and forms the underlying basis for this text amendment.


This amendment would remove from the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance the variance authority based upon mistake.  It would then vest in the Zoning Administrator authority to grant exemptions from any provision contained in the Zoning Ordinance with respect to minimum lot width, minimum lot frontage, and minimum setback requirements, with the written finding that: (a) the strict application of the ordinance would produce undue hardship; (b) such hardship is not shared generally by other properties in the same zoning district and the same vicinity; and (c) the authorization of the modification will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property and the character of the zoning district will not be changed by the granting of the modification.


The Board of Zoning Appeals would retain its traditional authority for processing other variances.


This proposed text amendment was initiated by the Planning Commission on December 7, 2005. The Planning Commission recommended adoption of this Ordinance on January 26, 2006.

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

Department of Economic Development