Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Harry F. Atherton, Chairman, Marshall District Supervisor


April 12, 2007


Staff Lead:



W. Todd Benson, Assistant Zoning Administrator


Community Development




A Work Session on a Proposed Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Article 13, Part 2 Pertaining to the Procedures for Amending the Fauquier County Zoning Map and Ordinance


Topic Description:


This proposed text amendment establishes additional procedures for the rezoning and text amendment processes.  It is designed to address problems encountered through experience with the rezoning process and to ensure a deliberate and constant procedural process.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Conduct a work session.

Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.


Summary Staff Report:

This proposed text amendment is principally designed to specify procedures for processing rezoning applications in order to address problems that have been consistently encountered by the staff and applicants.  The proposed changes are summarized below.

Pre-Application Meeting

The language is amended to require a pre-application meeting at least 90 days before submission of an application.  An additional on-site meeting between staff and the applicant is also required to be held prior to submission. This early meeting will allow staff and the applicant to identify potential issues and concerns early in the process and to work through many issues prior to the formal application.  It is expected that this early effort will help to reduce review and revision times later in the review process.

Staff can waive the site meetings for cases that will not benefit from early on-site collaboration about site features and environmental resources. Staff can also waive the 90 day period between pre-application meeting and the official submission. Even with these waivers, Carson -Ashley was critical of the 90 day lapse.  Their criticism may be found in the first two numbered paragraphs of their attached letter.

Staff’s position is contained in the attached memorandum.  As previously stated, Staff believes the requirement for a 90 day period between pre-application and submission is critical to having the pre-application meeting function as intended, which is to provide the applicant information from staff on critical issues for the property. Too often, the meeting is now treated as a perfunctory check-box, with the meeting held after the plans have been completely prepared and even printed, making it unlikely that changes will be incorporated based on staff input, even where critical issues have been identified. Requiring the applicant to come in earlier in the process, before the final design is fully committed to paper, increases opportunities for collaboration with staff and the likelihood that an applicant will be able to respond to critical issues identified. It is believed that this early collaboration between the applicant and staff will actually help to reduce the overall review time by minimizing numerous revisions to address concerns and issues.


Review Process and Timing

The amendment proposes a refinement to the initial staff review process, providing for a complete review, report, and coordination with the applicant on issues prior to scheduling the application for Planning Commission public hearing. 

Subsequent to the March 8, 2007 public hearing, the Board of Supervisors expressed concern about the potential length of review time allotted to staff and the Planning Commission prior to submission of a recommendation to the Board. One Board member stated if the process could take as long as 180 days; the allotted time could actually take 291+ days.  As noted above, 90 days prior to submission is the pre-application meeting - this time can be waived.  The Director then has three weeks to determine completeness of the application. Before the application is scheduled for Planning Commission public hearing, the Director must present to the applicant a written review, summary of issues and recommendations from the department and all referral agencies.  The initial comments must be provided to the applicant within 90 days of the date the application was determined complete. Then an indeterminate amount of time is required to place the matter on the agenda.  From its first meeting, the Planning Commission has 90 days to act.   

This process need not take 291 days.  Indeed, the proposed amendment codifies the maximum allowed by staff.  For example, the Director usually determines that an application is complete within five days, while the amendment allows up to three weeks.  However, passage of the amendment would not cause a change in policy   A continued five day average is to be expected.  The amendment does allow some leeway for difficult permits or difficult circumstances but provides that the decision must be made in three weeks.

In the past, the County has had a problem with deferral of rezoning applications while applicants worked through the complex requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and the policy concerns concomitant with many applications. The process is significantly complicated by the use of concept development plans which almost require a site plan analysis as part of rezoning. The Board frequently is not privy to staff and Planning Commission efforts because many of the complex issues are resolved at this level of review, allowing for a cleaner, smoother review process by the Board of Supervisors.

This proposed process is designed to provide the applicant with an opportunity to make substantive revisions in response to County and referral agency staff comments and recommended project changes. The objective is to have a complete application subject to Planning Commission public hearing with minimal revisions required.

It gives the Planning Commission 90 days to consider an amendment, unless the applicant requests a deferral.  If the applicant submits additional information or makes a change in the application, the Planning Commission can also take up to 90 days to make a recommendation depending upon the complexities of the revisions.

Consistent with State Code, the Board continues to have one year to act on a rezoning.  The proposed text amendment clarifies, however, that time lost because of deferrals by the applicant does not count toward the one year period.  In addition, where an applicant changes an application while it is being processed, and those changes are found to be significant, a re-application would be required and the 12-month-review period will begin anew.


Submission Requirements

The proposed amendment also clarifies and adds submission requirements.  Clarification is provided on traffic studies.  Submission requirements for map amendments are expanded to proof of application to the Army Corps of Engineers for a wetlands determination, existing floodplain limits, and a soil survey map.   The proposed amendment also specifies the detail required in a Concept Development Plan, where such plan is voluntarily proffered, to include proposed land uses and their locations and residential density and commercial square footage tabulations, road and pedestrian networks, conceptual public facilities and utilities plan, stormwater/BMP concept plan consistent with Section 203.2(1) of the DSM, anticipated floodplain boundaries where proposed change to FEMA floodplain, character, size, type and location of open space, with tabulations showing compliance with open space requirements of Article 2, additional information as may be required by specific special district regulations in Article 5, and architectural renderings or other illustrative sketches and graphics when necessary to illustrate or define a proffer condition.

This proposed text amendment was initiated by the Planning Commission on September 28, 2006. A public hearing was conducted on October 26, 2006.  The public hearing was kept open and the matter continued until the November meeting of the Planning Commission. Because of comments received from Carson-Ashley and Piedmont Environmental Council, the Planning Commission continued the public hearing until January but asked to be briefed on the public comments during a work session at the December meeting.  An analysis of the comments was presented to the Planning Commission on December 19, 2006 and various amendments proposed by staff to accommodate the comments and concerns raised by Carson - Ashley and Piedmont Environmental Council. The comments of Carson-Ashley and Piedmont Environmental Council are attached, as are staff’s comments in response.  The attached proposed text contains the original proposed changes in red.  On January 25, 2007, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval. After a public hearing on March 8, 2007, the Board of Supervisors voted to conduct a work session on April 12, 2007.


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

Department of Economic Development


1.                  Letter from Carson –Ashley dated November 16, 2006

2.                  Proposed Ordinance amendment


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