Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Raymond E. Graham, Cedar Run District Supervisor 

March 12, 2009


Staff Lead:


Kimberley Johnson, Zoning Administrator


Community Development



A Resolution Initiating a Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Sections 3-316, 5-1600 and 15-300 Related to Blacksmith Shops and Similar Artisan Shops in the Rural Agricultural District


Topic Description:


The proposed text amendment allows the Board of Zoning Appeals, through the Special Permit Process, to allow a blacksmith or similar artisan shop in the RA/Rural Agricultural District subject to certain standards.   A broader range of limited industrial uses are already allowed in the RA District with Special Exception approval, but a 100 acre minimum lot size is required. 


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Consider adoption of the attached resolution.


Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.


Staff Report: 

The existing Zoning Ordinance regulations do not clearly address blacksmith shops or similar artisan shops.   In the case where someone wished to operate such a shop on the property where they reside, the Ordinance would allow it as a home occupation, with up to one employee by-right or four employees as a major home occupation with approval of a special permit.      

The Zoning Ordinance is less clear regarding where such a use would be allowed in the cases where the proprietor did not live on the property.   One possibility would be to categorize the use as a Heavy Industrial use under Section 3-317.5, because that category does specifically allow “Iron, steel or copper works for foundries.”   However, staff does not believe the use would be accurately categorized as an iron works or foundry, because typically such uses are characterized by mechanized processes involving molds, whereas a blacksmith forges and shapes metal by hand utilizing an anvil and hammer.    If the use was categorized as Heavy Industrial it would only be allowed in the I-2 Industrial District, and with a Special Exception.

Alternatively, it might be possible to classify the use under existing regulations as Limited Industrial under Section 3-316.1.   While there is no definition in the Ordinance for Limited Industrial, Section 3-316.1 elaborates by describing the category as “enclosed laboratories and facilities for manufacturing, assembling, research and development.”     Blacksmithing and similar crafts could certainly be considered manufacturing, which is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “the act of making something (a product) from raw materials.”     Limited Industrial uses are currently allowed in the RA district with approval of a special exception on parcels of at least 100 acres, and subject to additional standards.

The issue at hand is whether a Blacksmith Shop may be appropriate on smaller rural parcels and/or by-right or with special permit approval rather than by special exception approval.  The issue was raised because staff has been working with the Cardine family to resolve a number of land use issues related to a parcel they own at 6588 Balls Mill Road, at its intersection with Marsh Road/Route 17 in the Cedar Run District.  One of the outstanding issues is a Blacksmith Shop that was located on the property approximately 4 years ago in existing agricultural buildings, without approval of any zoning or building permits.  Board members may have read about the Blacksmith Shop in a recent edition of the Fauquier Times-Democrat, which featured an article on the business (See attachment 2).  

Staff is unable to approve the shop under the existing Zoning Ordinance.   Mr. Patrick Cardine, the owner and operator of the ornamental blacksmith shop, does not live on the property and therefore the use does not qualify as a home occupation; in any case, with 7 existing employees and an anticipated growth to 12 employees, the home occupation limitations would not work for this particular use.  Likewise, the use cannot be approved under the Heavy Industrial classification because the property is not zoned I-2, nor can it be approved as Limited Industrial, as the property does not meet the 100 acre minimum lot size, as the Cardine property encompasses only 65.41 acres, with approximately 3.8 of these acres zoned V/Village.   

From a land-use perspective, craftsmen such as Blacksmiths historically worked within rural areas, so allowing such uses on parcels less than 100 acres may not be inconsistent with the County’s goals related to rural preservation.  Therefore, at the request of Supervisor Graham, staff has prepared this text amendment, which reduces the minimum lot size for Blacksmith shops and similar artisan shops from 100 acres to 50 acres.   The amendment would also allow the use to be approved by special permit rather than special exception, but limits the size of the shop to a maximum of 12 employees. (Larger shops would still be allowed on parcels of 100 acres or more, with special exception approval.)     The existing standards for such limited industrial uses are retained and provide additional protections related to traffic, building design and impacts on adjoining properties.  


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

Department of Economic Development


Fauquier Times-Democrat Article

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