Owner/Applicant:                                                     Planning Commission Meeting Date:


Lewis J. & Martha M. Bender, Owners                                                        February 19, 2004

Dominion Transmission, Inc., Applicant


Staff Lead:                                                                                                      Department:


Holly Meade                                                                                  Community Development


Magisterial District:  Cedar Run                                               PIN(s):  7941-23-4200-000                                                                                                                          

Service District: None                                              



SPEX04-CR-012: A Category 20 Special Exception to Allow the Construction of a Gas Compressor Station in Addition to a Comprehensive Plan Conformance Determination in Accord with the Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-2232.


Topic Description:


The purpose of this Special Exception is to obtain approval for the construction of a gas compressor station.  In addition, the applicant is seeking a Comprehensive Plan Conformance Determination in accordance with the Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-2232. 


Dominion Transmission, Inc. (DTI) currently has a contract with Lewis J. and Martha M. Bender to purchase approximately 30.63 acres of their 282.5-acre parcel, for the development of a gas compressor station.  The proposed site is adjacent to DTI’s existing measuring and regulating station and gas transmission facilities, identified as P.I.N. 7941-32-2192-000, containing approximately 1.18 acres.  DTI proposes to do a boundary line adjustment with the existing parcel prior to site plan submittal, if the Special Exception is approved.


The 282.5 acre Bender property is one of 253 properties which comprise the 19,212 acre Southern Fauquier Agricultural and Forestal District, which expires on February 16, 2006.  The property has been in the Agricultural and Forestal District since 1996.  Because the property is located within an Agricultural and Forestal District, pursuant to the Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-4313, the proposal requires review and approval by the Board of Supervisors in addition to Special Exception approval and a finding of compliance with the Comprehensive Plan.


The proposed compressor facility is one of two new gas compressor facilities DTI is proposing to build as part of a regional expansion project.  The applicant indicates that the additional compressor is needed to fulfill requests for service by DTI’s Mid-Atlantic customers, such as Virginia Natural Gas.  The Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC) has reviewed the proposed application and, on September 11, 2003, issued an order to construct the facility, finding the project was in the public interest and posed a minimal impact to the environment. 


The compressor station will involve the installation of a 6,000 hp gas-fired turbine, 1,600 feet of 24-inch diameter suction pipe, a 20-inch diameter discharge pipe, support buildings and ancillary equipment necessary for the station’s operation.  The proposed area of disturbance is 4.5 acres.  The facility will be completely fenced and screened.  The facility may be intermittently manned with at least one employee as much as eight hours per day, but also will be designed for remote operations from DTI’s headquarters in West Virginia. 


The proposed compressor station is part of a larger Mid-Atlantic project aimed at improving the delivery of natural gas in the area.  The applicant states that upon completion of the project, DTI will be able to provide an additional 223 million cubic feet per day of incremental gas flow to end users in the northern and central Virginia areas.  DTI has indicated that a location in this general area is necessary, as it is near the end of DTI’s existing gas transmission facilities.   This site was selected largely because it has an existing DTI facility (the M&R station).  Dominion indicates that any other location would be significantly more expensive and create substantially more impacts, because in addition to constructing the compressor station, a pipeline would also have to be constructed.




On January 29, 2004, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Special Exception request.  The Commission decided at that time to postpone action until its February 19, 2004 meeting and to close the public hearing.  The Commission wanted to time assess public comments regarding non-attainment impacts/costs and emission issues.  To date, no new information has been submitted.


Land Area, Location and Zoning:    


The property is located in Catlett on Route 640 at 2028 Law’s Ford Road.  The property is zoned Rural Agricultural (RA).  An existing 240-foot Virginia Power Transmission Easement and existing electric transmission facilities are located on the east side of the proposed 30.63 portion of the property, along with a Virginia Natural Gas transmission easement and pipeline.  A map of the property is shown below.

Neighboring Zoning/Land Use:


The property is surrounded by RA (Agricultural) zoning and the prevailing land use in the area is residential and farming. 


Action Requested of the Planning Commission:


The Planning Commission is requested to conduct a public hearing on the proposed Special Exception and Comprehensive Plan Conformance Determination and forward a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.


Staff Analysis:


Staff and appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and other relevant policies and regulations. Staff and referral agency findings, comments, and recommendations are summarized below. The actual responses from referral agencies are included as attachments.


Ordinance and Code Requirements


The Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-4313, sets forth a specific procedure which must be followed by a public service corporation proposing to acquire more than one acre of land within an agricultural and forestal district.  This procedure requires that notice be given to the County, and that the Board of Supervisors determine the following, in consultation with the Planning Commission and the Agricultural and Forestal District Advisory Committee: 


(i)         the effect the action would have upon the preservation and enhancement of agriculture and forestry and agricultural and forestal resources within the district and the policies set forth in the state code; and 


(ii)               the necessity of the proposed action to provide service to the public in the most economical and practicable manner. 


(iii)             whether reasonable alternatives to the proposed action are available that would minimize or avoid any adverse impacts on agricultural and forestal resources within the district.


The Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Board reviewed the proposal on November 5, 2003, and the Planning Commission reviewed the proposal on November 20, 2003.  After recommendation from both advisory committees, on December 15, 2003 the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors extended the review period for DTI’s proposal from 90 days to 150 days or until March 30, 2004, so that the County could hold a public hearing and further review the proposed facility.  At the end of the 150 day period, the Board of Supervisors must render a final decision as to whether or not the proposal is approved.  Under the State code provision, Dominion could appeal any decision of the Board of Supervisors to the Circuit Court.


Comprehensive Plan


The subject property is designated as a rural area and is subject to the Rural Areas Land Use Plan, Chapter Eight, of the Comprehensive Plan. 


Under Section 15.2-2232 of the Code of Virginia, this application is required to be determined in substantial accord with the Comprehensive Plan.  The general intent of the Comprehensive Plan with regard to rural areas is to protect and preserve farmland, historic sites and open space. 


Chapter Nine of the Comprehensive Plan addresses public facilities and utilities goals.  These policies state:


·        All public facilities and utilities should be designed and developed so as to limit environmental degradation;

·        Gas/petroleum products pipe lines and electrical transmission lines should be grouped in designated utility corridors where appropriate to avoid scattered placement of these utilities in the county; and

·        Plan for necessary public facilities and utilities through public and private cooperation within those areas presently containing services, and to establish priorities for service implementation in those areas not presently served.


The Planning Commission should consider these factors in determining if this application is in

conformance with the Comprehensive Plan as a public utility.


Impact on Agriculture


The property is zoned Rural Agriculture, and is utilized for agricultural purposes, planted with soybeans, barley and corn.  According to the applicant, no wetlands or other environmentally sensitive areas, cemeteries, floodplains, etc. have been identified on the portion of the property being acquired.


The Environmental Assessment prepared for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the project notes:


The site for the station has soil limitations which include a seasonal high watertable.  About 4.1 acres of cropland would be disturbed by construction of this facility.  About 2.2 acres of farmland would be taken out of production permanently.  The remaining 1.9 acres would be located along the ROW for the suction and discharge lines associated with this station and this land could be returned to agricultural use.  About 0.8 acre of prime farmland soil would be permanently disturbed since it would be within the fenced area of the compressor station.


The applicant further notes that they have not applied to remove the property from the Agricultural and Forestal District because under the terms of their agreement with the Benders, all but a 4.5 acre portion of the property will be leased back to the Benders to be farmed.


The Agricultural and Forestal Advisory Board recommended on November 5, 2003, that the Board of Supervisors, as part of any approval, require that the majority of the land be made available to the Benders for farming as long as the parcel remains in the Southern Fauquier Agricultural and Forestal District.


Engineering Considerations


The Engineering Division has reviewed the above referenced plan and has provided the following comments:


  1. All applicable federal and state permit approvals will be required prior to site plan approval.


  1. What is being stored in the drum storage area? Will there be a containment area to catch spills? No land or building in any district other than Industrial Districts shall be used for storage of materials (5-2002.2).


  1. All culverts are to be sized for the 10-year storm with 12” of freeboard, but must be no less than 15” in diameter.


  1. Verification from VEPCO that the proposed construction will be allowed in their right-of-way will be required prior to final site approval.


  1. Is the 24” AGL Resources line proposed or existing?


  1. Will this proposal meet the minimum performance standards for noise and light?


  1. The entrance should be paved for at least 25’ into the property and 30’ wide. VDOT may require tapers.




This project requires Special Exception approval, a finding of compliance with the Comprehensive Plan, and a boundary line adjustment to consolidate with the existing parcel prior to the site plan process.


A Major Site Plan will be required prior to obtaining building and zoning permits.   The site plan will need to be in general conformance with the approved SE, provisions of Article 12 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance and the bulk regulations for the underlying (RA Agriculture) district.




This office has reviewed the Dominion Transmission, Inc., Quantico Gas Compressor Station Special Exception Application. It appears there are no major environmental issues that would prohibit the proposed use. However, future submittals should address the following comments:


  1. The source of the soils map shall be clearly stated on same sheet as soil map. “Fauquier County Soil Survey (originally mapped at 1” = 1320’).”


  1. Summary of soil characteristics and use potential shall be stated from the most recent Interpretive Guide to the Soils of Fauquier County, Virginia, for all mapping unit symbols shown on soil map. State source (i.e., “Interpretive Guide to the Soils of Fauquier County, Virginia, 4th Edition – 2002.”)


  1. The soil map shall have a symbols legend if spot symbols are used (drainageway, springs, etc.) describing each symbol shown on the soil map.


  1. Based on County Soils Map, a geotechnical study would be advisable for all structures and roadways due to seasonal water tables and possibilities of shrink-swell clay.


Virginia Department of Transportation


Residency staff indicated they reviewed the application and did not have any comments regarding the expansion of the existing use; however, they indicated they would like the opportunity to review and comment on the site plan.




Summary and Recommendation:


If the Planning Commission should determine this application is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan as a public utility and chooses to make a recommendation of approval of SPEX04-CR-012 to the Board of Supervisors, such approval shall be subject to the conditions found below:


  1. This Special Exception is granted for and runs with the land indicated in this application and is not transferable to other land.


  1. This Special Exception is granted only for the purpose(s), structure(s), and/or uses indicated on the Special Exception Plat approved with the application, as qualified by these development conditions


  1. A Major Site Plan shall be required.


  1. All applicable federal and state permit approvals shall be required prior to site plan approval.


  1. In accord with Section 5-2002.2. of the Zoning Ordinance no land or building shall be used for storage of materials other than those associated with this use.


  1. All culverts shall be sized for the 10-year storm with 12” of freeboard, but shall be no less than 15” in diameter.


  1. Verification from VEPCO that the proposed construction will be allowed its their right-of-way shall be required prior to Final Site Plan approval.


  1. Lighting and noise levels shall meet applicable County performance standards and requirements contained in Article 9 of  the Zoning Ordinance.


  1. The entrance shall be paved for at least 25 feet into the property and be 30 feet wide.


  1. A VDOT entrance permit shall be required prior to issuance of Zoning/Building Permits.


  1. The entire facility, including the Measuring and Regulating Facility, shall be completely fenced and screened with a mix of evergreen trees and shrubs (recommend that the plant choices include deer tolerant plants).  This fencing and screening shall remain in place and be maintained by the applicant.


  1. The area of disturbance shall be limited to approximately 4.5 acres.


  1. The remainder of the property, approximately 26.13 acres (of the 30.63 acres boundary line adjusted), shall be made available to the Benders or others for farming as long as the parcel remains in the Southern Fauquier Agricultural and Forestal District.
  2. The applicant shall have one (1) year from the approval of the Final Site Plan to commence construction of the use.


  1. The Facility shall be permitted as a natural gas compressor facility in accordance with Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulations, but in no case shall annual emissions for nitrogen oxide (NO2) exceed 24 tons per year without special exception amendment.  The Applicant will not seek from the DEQ any future permit modifications that will allow the Facility to emit more than 24 tons of NO2 emissions.


Any increase in the operating conditions or facility expansions which (i) are beyond what is depicted on the Special Exception plat and contained within the application materials, and (ii) require modification of the DEQ permitted annual emissions for the facility, as depicted on the special Exception plat, shall require an amendment to the special exception.  However, changes in regulations promulgated by DEQ or the Environmental Protection Agency requiring compliance with stricter environmental standards, even if they require modifications to the facility, shall be permitted without amendment to this special exception.


  1. The special exception is valid for five years from the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy.