Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Planning Commission

March 12, 2009

Staff Lead:


Andrew Hushour, Assistant Zoning Administrator

Community Development 


A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 2-406.1, Paragraph 3, Regarding Common Open Space Requirements

Topic Description:

The proposed text amendment would require that areas located within the 100-year floodplain and within steep slopes (25 percent or more grade) be placed within common open space whenever a property is developed or subdivided and a common open space requirement is triggered. Currently, only floodplain is required to be located in common open space, and then only in conjunction with cluster type subdivisions.


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:

One of the stated goals of the Fauquier County Comprehensive Plan is to “protect critical environmental resources and to maintain renewable natural resources so that they are not degraded but remain viable for future generations.” As identified in Chapter 2 of the Plan, Physical Characteristics & Natural and Historic Resources, floodplains and steep slopes are two such valuable resources.  Floodplains provide a critical interface between land and water, in many cases serving as groundwater recharge areas, and sensitive ecological areas providing the source of food and habitat for stream organisms and larger species. Furthermore, because of their ability to hold water and reduce run-off, many floodplains help to mitigate flooding.  Steep slopes are identified as a valuable resource feature because of their sensitivity to development, susceptibility to erosion, and impact on stormwater run-off.  This proposed text amendment proposes one measure intended to enhance the protection of floodplain areas and steep slopes, establishing a prohibition on the creation of any new building lots containing floodplain and/or steep slope areas in subdivisions for which common open space is required.

In recognition of the value of steep slopes and floodplain, existing Zoning Ordinance regulations limit the development of these areas in subdivisions requiring non-common open space (RA and RC divisions).   In such development, steep slopes and floodplain are required to be placed on the non-common open space parcel rather than on house lots.   Additionally, in non-rural cluster subdivisions, all floodplain is required to be placed within the required common open space area.  This proposed text amendment extends these practices by requiring both floodplain and steep slopes to be placed in common open space in both cluster and conventional subdivisions requiring open space.  The table below summarizes the changes:


Type of Subdivision

Floodplain required to be placed within open space?

Steep slopes required to be placed within open space?

RA/RC Cluster Divisions

Existing Requirement

Existing Requirement

R Zones Cluster Development

Existing Requirement

New Requirement

R Zones Conventional Development

New Requirement

New Requirement

R Zones= RR-2, R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, V

Under the existing provisions for cluster developments, the Planning Commission may grant a waiver allowing some of the floodplain to be placed on individual lots upon a finding that 1) the lot contains a minimum of 75 percent of the minimum lot area for the zoning district and 2) the floodplain has no particular open space value.  This waiver provision has been eliminated. However, at the request of the Planning Commission, a waiver provision has been provided for steep slopes in cases where an applicant is able to sufficiently mitigate impact on such slopes and contiguous floodplains and wetlands. As proposed, the waiver is granted by the Planning Commission upon a finding that the applicant has demonstrated specific measures for controlling steep slope run-off and soil erosion.

The Planning Commission initiated this proposed text amendment on September 25, 2008, and held work sessions on the issue on September 10, 2008 and September 25, 2008. The Planning Commission held public hearings on the text amendment on October 30, 2008 and December 10, 2008.  A final public hearing was held on January 29, 2009, at which time the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the text amendment as set forth in the attached resolution.


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

Property Owners

Back to Agenda...