November 14, 2007
STATEMENT OF JUSTIFICATION
Great Meadow is a field events and open space environmental facility near The Plains, established in 1982 through adaptive use of an abandoned farm into open space land for family oriented outdoor spectator and non-spectator activities. The facility is operated primarily for Fauquier community benefit by the Great Meadow Foundation (GMF), a non-profit organization under Sec. 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Service Code. The purpose of this application is to renew Great Meadow’s Special Exception #SE95-S-01 zoning status with Fauquier County.
Great Meadow is requesting a permanent extension with no changes to be administratively reviewed only every five years.
1. Type of Activities - Activities at Great Meadow consist primarily of equestrian and other family oriented events. The largest anticipated users in terms of days of activity are Fauquier and Liberty High Schools, other local school and club sports including: cross country track, lacrosse, rugby and soccer groups. The Virginia Gold Cup (May) and International Gold Cup (October) steeplechase events and the Great Meadow 4th of July Celebration are the largest one-day users of the facility. The Twilight Polo public event runs from Memorial Day through September on Saturday evenings, and occasional grass polo public events during summer months. Other continuing or anticipated activities may be environmental education activities, professional bull riding, polo, equestrian clinics, horse shows, dog shows, dog trials, trail rides, nature walks, picnic/dinner outings, weddings, community meetings, community festivals, flower/plant shows, model rocketry clubs launches, astronomy club sky watch, rugby, search and rescue tracker dog training, basset hound hunting, pony club and other equestrian sports and family oriented activities as provided under this ordinance. All plans for, and activities conducted on, the property during each event shall be as authorized by GMF as Fauquier County licensee within provisions of Category 9 Outdoor Recreation of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance.
2. Hours of operation – Activities at Great Meadow occur primarily during daylight hours, with the exception of twilight polo which may take place each Saturday evening from June through September and occasional other events, with any lighting required for evening events to be shielded, as provided by Fauquier County ordinances and turned off by 11:00 p.m. Gates close at Great Meadow at 12:00 a.m., with the exception of the private sky watch events which are limited in attendance (private to club members) and extend through darkness hours.
3. Attendance - The proposed number of guests and participants for activities and events will be within specific provisions of Category 9 uses for Class A, B and C Spectator and Non-Spectator attendees per event. Consistent with the current Special Exception Permit, in the normal course of each year the facility will conduct up to eight Class A events with no more than one per month (except in July when two Class A events may be held), including no more than five (5) events to have a cumulative attendance at each of more than 25,000, up to twenty-five Class B events, unlimited Class C events and one Special Exception 6-day horse show. Events will be scheduled in such a manner as to be closely sensitive to Great Meadow’s neighbors and to its own turf.
4. Employees - GMF employs currently employs three full time office staff and three full time grounds maintenance staff. Additional full or part time staff are hired as need and funding permits.
5. Professional Qualifications - All events are required to meet public health and safety regulations (see attached current GMF Public Interest Protocol). In this regard, GMF requires for events, as appropriate to the size and character of each event, an infrastructure of professional services for traffic management, internal security, emergency medical, sanitation, trash management, communications and technical personnel to assure full compliance with Federal, state and Fauquier County ordinances, regulations and laws. Any food vendor must be compliant to and licensed by the Fauquier County Health Department and will be accessible to inspection prior to public events. All public health and safety policy and services on the property at each event will be under GMF supervision as property owner and subject to final GMF approval and authority.
6. Traffic - Great Meadow is bordered on the south by Route 17, a four-lane arterial highway; and on the west by Route 245, serving I-66. Traffic management for large events will continue under management of and coordinated by GMF with the Virginia State Police, Fauquier Sheriff’s Office and VDOT, with any traffic slowdowns anticipated only during Class A events such the Virginia Gold Cup in May, International Gold Cup in October and any other event where a large volume of traffic (4,000 cars) is anticipated to arrive. Admission from the public highway 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 GMF Staff with appropriate public officials. In continuous cooperation with VDOT, parking will not be permitted on public roads or streets. GMF arranges for traffic control in and out of gates for any event with 500 cars or more.
7. Area Served - Events at Great Meadow have in the past and will continue primarily to serve the interests of the Fauquier County community. At least 95% of all events activity will be located on GMF owned land (Property A) and less than 5% of event activities, primarily for school cross country running, cross country equestrian events and school environmental education, will be on land leased several days a year by GMF from the Fleming Farm (Property B).
8. Construction - All major construction work at Great Meadow is completed. An environmental education building, viewing and event activity support building on the South Field, new horse jumps and fences, rebuilds of current structures and fences, and other minor improvements may be added in the future, all subject to appropriate and required Fauquier County approvals.
9. Conformity with Applicable Conditions - As listed in the current GMF Special Exception Permit, GMF requests to continue with one annual 6-day Horse Show event. Some other events, generally cross country school running and equestrian activities, are conducted on the Fleming Farm Property (Property B) subject to Property B Landowner permission. GMF will not permit any part of the Fleming Farm, which adjoins neighboring properties, to be used for any Class A or B event without prior written approval by the Property B landowner of specific event agreed provisions which will satisfy these conditions of use:
a. That in consideration of neighboring property owners, event persons and activities will not be allowed to infringe upon the property of, or be reasonably objectionable to, adjoining property owners.
b. That in the interests of assuring the public purposes and community services of GMF and Great Meadow, no activity shall be permitted on the Fleming Farm which in the sole judgment of the Property B landowner would be inconsistent with the purposes of GMF or which does not provide financial support toward the Foundation’s charitable community purposes in Fauquier County at a level which is satisfactory to the Property B landowner.