Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Charlotte M. Heath, et al

April 8, 2010

Staff Lead:


Bonnie Bogert, Planner II

Community Development


Magisterial District:                                                                                                                        PIN:
Center                                                                                                                       7914-20-0908-000   

Service District:


A Resolution to Approve SPEX10-CT-013, Charlotte M. Heath, et al: A Category 27 Special Exception to Waive the Requirement to Provide 50% Common Open Space with the Creation of a Cluster Subdivision


Topic Description:

The applicants wish to obtain approval of a Category 27 Special Exception to waive the requirement to provide 50% open space with the creation of a cluster subdivision. There are currently five (5) existing homes located on a single 45.53-acre parcel. These homes were approved by building permit in the 1960s. The houses were shown on the permit to be built on individual one-acre lots, but the lots were never created and the building permits were approved in error. In order to remedy this, the applicants are interested in dividing the property into five lots (4 lots of 0.98 acres each and a residue of +/- 41.61 acres) through the Preliminary Plat process. The applicant is also interested in creating additional lots on the residue at a later time.

The parcel contains 45.53 acres. Under the current RR-2 Zoning, the by-right subdivision potential is twenty-two (22) lots. If the property were developed as a conventional subdivision with each of the lots containing a minimum of two (2) acres, there would not be a requirement to provide open space since fewer than 25 lots would be created. However, since the location of four (4) of the existing homes prohibits the creation of two acre lots, the applicants are proposing to create those lots as a cluster subdivision. The minimum lot size for a cluster subdivision is 30,000 square feet. There is also a requirement to provide common open space in the amount of 50% of the gross site area.  The open space requirement for a cluster subdivision on this parcel is 22.7661 acres.

The applicants contend in their Statement of Justification that the divisions as proposed (the four 0.98 acre lots and subsequent lots) would use less density than that allowed under a by-right subdivision.  In addition, the creation of a common open space parcel would be a challenge for the applicant as it would be difficult to determine who had the rights to access such a parcel. The applicant’s Statement of Justification is included as Attachment 2.


Location,  Zoning and Current Land Use:

The subject property is located on Old Auburn Road (Route 670), near Catlett. The 45.53-acre parcel is zoned Rural Residential (RR-2). Adjoining parcels to the north, south and west are also zoned RR-2. Adjoining parcels to the east are zoned Rural Agriculture (RA). The current land use is residential. 

 Comprehensive Plan/Land Use:

The property is outside the Service Districts in the rural area where rural/agricultural uses are sought. 

Historic Resources:

The 45-acre property is located in the study area of the Auburn I and Auburn II battlefields. Auburn I and II are listed among twelve battlefields lying partially or entirely within Fauquier County that number among the top 3% most important battlefields in the Civil War.  The property appears to be entirely within the core battlefield area for Auburn II (i.e., where the physical battle took place).  Although Fauquier County has provisions in both the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance to protect historic resources generally, the County does not have any specific ordinances regulating development within civil war battlefields in particular to distinguish them from any other historic resource. For instance, the Purpose and Intent Section of the Fauquier Zoning Ordinance states that it is designed “to protect against destruction of or encroachment upon historic areas.” Additionally, in 2001, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors adopted a Resolution calling for the “significant elements” of a Citizen’s Historic Preservation Plan to be adopted into the Comprehensive Plan. To that end, these Plan and Ordinance provisions allow the Planning Commission to give consideration to broad historic preservation policies in its decisions by specifying conditions to protect historic features.  No aboveground structures associated with the battlefield are located on the property.

Special Exception Analysis:

The following Zoning Ordinance sections apply to this request:

Section 5-006: General Standards for Special Permits and Special Exception Uses

1.      The proposed use shall be such that it will not adversely affect the use or development of neighboring properties. It shall be in accordance with the applicable zoning district regulations and the applicable provisions of the adopted Comprehensive Plan. The location, size and height of buildings, structures, walls and fences, and the nature and extent of screening, buffering and landscaping shall be such that the use will not hinder or discourage the appropriate development and/or use of adjacent or nearby land and/or buildings or impair the value thereof.

The Comprehensive Plan designates this as a rural area. Staff suggested to the applicants that providing non-common open space would be in keeping with the rural area, and would provide some of the benefit of common open space – that of openness. It was also suggested that the applicants consider deed restricting the number of lots developed on the site if adequate common open space is not provided. The proposed use will not adversely affect the use of neighboring properties, as there are subdivisions adjoining the subject parcel, so the additional lots would be consistent with the land use in the area.  

2.      The proposed use shall be such that pedestrian and vehicular traffic generated will not be hazardous or conflict with the existing and anticipated traffic in the neighborhood and on the streets serving the site.

The proposed use is a residential development. Traffic will not be hazardous or conflict with the existing traffic in the neighborhood.

  1. In addition to the standards which may be set forth in this Article for a particular category or use, the BZA and Board may require landscaping, screening, yard requirements or other limitations found to be necessary and appropriate to the proposed use and location.

The proposed subdivision will be required to meet all necessary Zoning Ordinance requirements for landscaping.

  1. Open space shall be provided in an amount at least equal to that specified for the zoning district in which the proposed use is located.

Applicant is requesting a waiver of the entire 50% Common Open Space requirement.

5.      Adequate utility, drainage, parking, loading, and other necessary facilities to serve the proposed use shall be provided. Low impact development techniques are encouraged by the County and shall be incorporated into the site and facility design when deemed appropriate by the applicant after consultation with appropriate county officials. Parking and loading requirements shall be in accordance with the provisions of Article 7.

Not applicable to the proposed use.        

6.      Signs shall be regulated by the provisions of Article 8, except as may be qualified in the parts that follow for a particular category or use. However, the BZA and the Board, under the authority presented in Section 007 below, may impose more strict standards for a given use than those set forth in this Ordinance.

Not applicable to the proposed use.

7.      The future impact of a proposed use will be considered and addressed in establishing a time limit on the permit, if deemed appropriate. Existing and recent development, current zoning and the Comprehensive Plan shall be among the factors used in assessing the future impact of the proposed use and whether reconsideration of the permit after a stated period of time would be necessary and appropriate for the protection of properties in the vicinity and to ensure implementation of the Comprehensive Plan.

This Special Exception Request is to reduce the Open Space requirement for a subdivision. If approved, there will be no time limit on the permit.

8.      The proposed use shall be such that air quality, surface and groundwater quality and quantity, are not degraded or depleted to an extent that would hinder or discourage the appropriate development and/or use of adjacent or nearby land and/or buildings or impair the value thereof.

The development of a subdivision should not impact air quality, surface and groundwater quality and quantity in a manner that would hinder or discourage development of nearby land.

9.      Except as provided in this Article, all uses shall comply with the lot size, bulk regulations, and performance standards of the zoning district in which located.

     All uses will comply with all Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance regulations.

Section 5-2701: Standards for Reduction of Common Open Space

In any zone, the percentage of the gross site area required as common open space may be reduced by the Board upon a determination that:

1.      The required amount is not necessary in order to establish neighborhood open space for useable recreation space, accessibility, visibility and linkage with other established or planned subdivisions, adjacent open space, parks, schools or similar land uses.

This Special Exception is being requested so that the applicants may clear up an existing zoning violation. The four housing sites currently in violation of the Zoning Ordinance do not have use of common open space. The majority of the development is proposed at this time to be Family Transfer Lots. There is no useable recreation space required under the Family Transfer Ordinance.  There is no existing adjacent open space, nearby park or school for which an open space parcel would provide accessibility, visibility and linkage.

2.      The area, particularly adjacent parcels, is developed predominantly as conventional subdivisions without open space and the required open space would result in an inconsistent pattern of development, in which case open space may be reduced to zero.

There does not appear to be any open space parcels located within any of the adjoining subdivisions, as they were likely developed as conventional subdivisions.

Planning Commission Summary and Action of  January 28, 2010:  

The Planning Commission discussed this item at its work session. The applicants agreed to a postponement of this item so that more information could be obtained regarding the specific number of lots the applicants wish to create as family transfers and/or administrative lots. The Planning Commission also agreed to make a site visit to this property so that more information could be obtained regarding the battlefield areas.

Planning Commission Summary and Action of February 25, 2010:

The Planning Commission discussed this item at its work session. Due to the closure of County offices based on inclement weather, the owners were not able to post their property as required by the Ordinance. The public hearing was kept open and action on the applications was deferred until the March Planning Commission meeting. 

Planning Commission Summary and Action of  March 25, 2010

The Planning Commission discussed this item at its work session and at the Public Hearing voted unanimously to recommend approval of the Special Exception.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors: 

Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached Resolution

Financial Impact Analysis:


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





1.       Not Used Due to Novus Agenda

2.       Statement of Justification

3.       Special Exception Plat

4.       Not Used Due to Novus Agenda


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