Board of Supervisor Meeting Date:

R. Holder Trumbo, Jr., Chairman,
Scott District Supervisor

April 9, 2009

Staff Lead:


Andrew B. Hushour, Assistant
Zoning Administrator 

                               Community Development



A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Sections 3-318.21 and 5-1812 of the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance Regarding Farmerís Markets


Topic Description:


The proposed text amendment seeks to modify the existing provisions found in Sections 3-318.21 and 5-1812 of the Zoning Ordinance to allow proprietors of farmerís markets to reside off-site with approval of a Special Exception.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

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

Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.


Staff Report:

The Zoning Ordinance defines a farmerís market as ďthe use of any tract of land in a rural zoning district for the retail sales of agriculture products, horticultural products, acquicultural products and handmade crafts.Ē A farmerís market is allowed only in the Rural Agricultural District (RA) with approval of a Category 18 Special Permit.   The existing regulations distinguish between two types such markets: a ďfarmerís marketĒ and a ďcommunity farmerís market.Ē   In general, a ďfarmerís marketĒ is a smaller-scale operation located on the property where a farmer lives; such markets are largely limited to selling goods grown or produced on-site or elsewhere in Fauquier County.  A community farmerís market is much more akin to a typical commercial use because of its larger size and broader range of products allowed and because the proprietor of the market does not have to live on the property.

The key differences in the two market designations are summarized in the table below.

Summary of Key Existing Zoning Ordinance Requirements/Limitations

Farmerís Market vs. Community Farmerís Market


Farmerís Market

Community Farmerís Market

Minimum Lot Size

5  acres

100 acres

Maximum Building Size

2,500 square feet

6,500 square feet


Proprietor must live on-site

No residency requirement

Product Limitations

At least 80% of the products must be grown or produced in Fauquier County.

At least 75% of the products must be grown or produced within Virginia.  All remaining products must be grown and/or produced in the U.S.A.


This proposed text amendment was initiated in response to a Zoning Violation notice to Living Acres, located at 7185 Burke Lane.  The 6.6-acre property, owned by CBCAM, LLC, is zoned to the RA District and has an approved special permit and site plan to utilize the 2,560 square foot building on-site for greenhouse/nursery sales. In addition, the site is also subject to an approved special permit for a farm equipment sales, rental and service establishment for the larger 7,104 square foot building that is also located on the site. In response to a sign complaint, staff inspected the site and determined that the property was being utilized for activities other than those approved, including produce sales and local wine-tastings. Mr. Cecil Campbell, the owner, met with staff and described his intention to operate a farmerís market as part of the business.  As described by Mr. Campbell, the business would sell locally produced fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses and wines. Mr. Campbell also noted a desire to hold wine-tastings for local wines on the site. Based on this description, staff determined that the use was appropriately classified as a farmerís market under the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance.  However, the owner could not apply for such use under existing regulations because the standards for a farmerís market require the proprietor to live on-site, and Mr. Campbell does not live on the property.   Alternatively, the Community Farmerís market classification was considered, but existing regulations would not allow such an approval, as the property is far smaller than the minimum 100 acres required for a Community Farmerís Market.

This text amendment was initiated in order to provide the opportunity for Mr. Campbell to apply for a farmerís market selling predominately local products, despite his not living on the property.  The amendment allows the on-site residency requirement for a farmerís market to be waived by the Board of Supervisors in conjunction with a special exception approval.


The proposed text amendment potentially raises significant issues, as it would allow a farmerís market on property where the farmer does not reside, making the market more akin to a retail use, and significantly expanding the ability of such uses to locate throughout the county on smaller rural properties.  A check of the real estate records shows that there are more than 8,000 rurally zoned parcels less than 100 acres in size.   

On the other hand, the Zoning Ordinance already allows what are significant commercial activities on smaller rurally zoned properties and none require a residency requirement; these uses are listed in the table below, along with the minimum lot size, where applicable.  A broad range of public and institutional uses are also currently allowed in the rural zoning districts.  It is unclear whether a farmerís market may have significantly more impact than these existing allowed uses, nor is a farmerís market any less related to agriculture than the nursery and/or tractor sales uses.        

Commercial Uses Currently Allowed in Rural Districts 


Minimum Acreage



Equestrian Facilities

5 acres

On-site processing and sales of agricultural products


Wholesale Plant Nursery/Greenhouse

5 acres



Golf/Country Club

15 acres

Golf Driving Range

5 acres

Swimming/Tennis Facility

1 acre


24 acres

Firing  Range

50 acres

Baseball/Archery Range

3 acres

Private Clubs


Antique Shops < 3000 sq. ft.



2 acres



Farm Supply Establishment


Office < 6 employees


Broadcasting Studio


Farm Equipment Sales, Rental and Service



3 acres

Commercial  Processing of Agricultural Products

5 acres


5 acres

Livestock Exchange


Retail Sales at Greenhouse/Nursery

5 acres

Farmerís Market

5 acres

Community Farmerís Market

100 acres

Petting Zoo

20 acres




20 acres

Equestrian Facilities w/Spectators

10 acres

Commercial Hunting Preserve



50 acres

Enclosed Manufacturing, Research

100 acres

Contractorís Offices and Industrial Uses on < 1AC

200 acres

Retail Sales in Conjunction with Industrial Use



As an example, the 6.6-acre Campbell property is already authorized by special permit for what are significant commercial uses on the property (greenhouse/nursery and tractor sales).

In considering an amendment to address this issue, staff has carefully reviewed the requirements for both the farmerís market designation and the community farmerís market designation and has concluded that changing the farmerís market use would provide the desired flexibility, while best maintaining the intent of the original text language to minimize commercial activity in rural areas.  As identified in the proposed text amendment, staff is recommending that the residence requirement for proprietors of farmerís markets found in Section 5-1812.7 be waived by the Board of Supervisors subject to the approval of a Special Exception. By requiring the Special Exception, the Board will have the authority to determine on a case-by-case basis whether the operation of a farmerís market is compatible with the existing or planned use of the area in which it is proposed.    By utilizing the farmerís market category rather than the community farmerís market category, the size of the farmerís market is substantially limited and the products are required to be locally produced within Fauquier County.  Therefore, while more non-traditional farmerís markets could be approved under this new provision, the intent to promote locally produced products is retained.

It is important to note that in the last several months activities have occurred on the Campbell property which go beyond those initially described to staff, and for which this amendment was based.   For example, the Living Acreís web site specifically advertises a range of goods for sale that are not locally produced.  While the farmerís market designation does allow a small percentage (20%) of the overall products to be from outside Fauquier County, it is not clear that the changing business plan will now fit comfortably within the parameters of the proposed amendment.  Staff has spoken with Mr. Campbell regarding a more detailed description of the proposed products for sale and was informed that while it is his intent to focus on the sale of locally produced products as they are available in season, he also plans to obtain and sell inventory from a broad range of producers or vendors outside of Fauquier County and the state to satisfy customers during the off growing season.  The text amendment as currently proposed would not accommodate this expanded business plan.  Staff would also note that Mr. Campbell conducted extensive outdoor activities on the property on weekends throughout the fall, with prominently advertised play for children in a festival-like approach.  These activities would not be allowed under a farmerís market special exception, but the owner could seek a separate special exception for such events if there is a desire to continue such activities in the future. 

The Board of Supervisors initiated the proposed text amendment at their regularly scheduled meeting held on October 9, 2008.  Planning Commission public hearings for this proposed amendment were held on December 10, 2008, January 29, 2009, and February 26, 2009.   At the February 26, 2009 meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial of the proposed amendment.  Among the concerns noted were: the fact that the Ordinance did not solve the problem it was initiated to solve; opening up the rural areas to what is effectively retail activity and possible undermining of actual farmers doing farmerís markets.


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


Department of Economic Development


  1. Resolution of Denial
  2. Ordinance of Approval

Back to Agenda...