Owner/Applicant:                                                   Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:
Great Meadow Foundation                                                                          March 13, 2008

Arthur W. Arundel

Staff Lead:                                                                                                       Department:
Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning                                Community Development

Magisterial District:  Scott                                                                                        PIN(s):
                                                                              6978-96-2610-000 & 6988-04-7000-000


A Resolution to Approve Great Meadow Foundation Category 9 Special Exception Amendment/Renewal SEAM08-SC-002 & Special Permit SPPT08-SC-029 for Certain Class C Events to Exceed 1,000 Attendees and Three Day Duration

Topic Description: 

The applicant seeks renewal and extension of a previously approved Category 9, Special Exception (SER03-S-01) for Outdoor Recreation to allow for the continuation of the equestrian and other family oriented events at this site. 

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 a family oriented venue for outdoor spectator and non-spectator activities.  The Great Meadow Foundation (GMF) operates the facility primarily for the benefit of the Fauquier County community.  The GMF is a non-profit organization under Section 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Service Code.

The applicant is requesting the renewal of its Special Exception granted in February of 2003.  In addition, the applicant originally sought to extend the Special Exception renewal period for up to ten years.  During the Planning Commission process, new language was proposed for the renewal period.  The resolution now indicates a five (5) year Special Exception renewal with five (5) year administrative renewals (in perpetuity) so long as no new events are added.  Conditions have been structured to reflect this new option and the applicant has also agreed to this change. 

This Special Exception allows 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.  The Special Permit request will allow for certain Class C events to exceed the number of attendees (Twilight Polo attendees may exceed 1000 persons) and for the model rocket launch event’s duration to exceed three (3) days (event will last for one week).

Land Area, Location and Zoning:                                                  

The subject property consists of ± 209 acres zoned RA (Agricultural). The GMF owns approximately 169 acres. The balance, ± 40 acres, is leased by the Foundation from, Arthur W. Arundel. The property is located in the southeast quadrant of the intersection of Route 17 and Virginia Route 245 (Old Tavern Road).


Neighboring Land Use:

The property immediately north of Route 245 is zoned and partially developed in R-1 residential.  All other property the site is surrounded by is land zoned RA and is in agricultural use.

Staff and Review Agency Comments: 

All referral agency comments have been addressed.  The Zoning office comments are included to show the applicable Special Exception standards and that the applicant has been in compliance with its current approved Special Exception.


1.                  The following Zoning Ordinance standards apply:

a.       5-006 General Standards.

b.      5-901 Standards for All Category 9 Uses.

c.       5-910 Additional Standards for Equestrian Facilities, Including Boarding and Instruction (Spectator Uses)

2.                  The existing Special Exception (SER03-S-01) for this use was approved on February 24, 2003 and expires on February 24, 2008.

3.         The applicant has regularly submitted required reports on events to the Zoning Administrator showing compliance with the standards of the existing special exception.


Great Meadow is bordered on the west by Route 17, a four-lane arterial highway, and on the north by Route 245.  Both provide access to I-66. Traffic management for large events is coordinated by GMF 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 continue to be directed by the Fauquier Sheriff’s Office.  All traffic and public safety plans and arrangements will be coordinated for all events by the GMF Public Health and Safety Coordinator with appropriate public officials.  Parking will not be permitted on public roads or streets.

The entrances to Route 17 and 245 shown on the proposed plan already exist and have been functioning adequately.  The GMF has worked with VDOT to coordinate events.  Previous conditions related to transportation have been carried forward to currently proposed conditions and refinements have been incorporated.

Summary and 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 February 2003, with the last Special Exception renewal. The current application for renewal does not propose any new or expanded activity for the property; however, the applicant had requested a five year extension of the Special Exception permit, for a ten year renewal period.  Staff and Planning Commission have worked with the applicant to refine the Special Exception and Special Permit condition language to clarify existing uses and permit requirements and during that process a new condition for permit renewal was developed.  This new condition language is as follows:

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, and henceforth shall then be subject to five (5) year administrative renewals by the Zoning Administrator.  In addition to the procedures and standards set forth in Section 5-012 of the Zoning Ordinance for administrative renewals, if the Zoning Administrator finds that practices have changed character and there are new impacts, the Special Exception shall be required to go back to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

This language allows for administrative renewals with five (5) year increments and allows for additional Zoning Administrator interpretation to ensure that events are consistent with the character identified by Great Meadow Foundation’s mission; the preservation of open space at Great Meadow for equestrian and field sports, youth and community activities.

Action Requested by the Board of Supervisors:

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

Planning Commission Recommendation:

On February 28, 2008 the Planning Commission held a public hearing on these applications and unanimously recommended approval, subject to a series of Special Exception conditions.

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

Fauquier County Department of Community Development


1.    Statement of Justification

2.      Special Exception Plat

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