Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Marriott Westfields Conference Center, Inc., Marriott Ranch

May 8, 2008

Staff Lead:


Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning

Community Development


Magisterial District:


6908-83-3361-000, 6919-15-9657-000,
6917-47-0965-000 & 6918-55-8536-000


Marriott Ranch: A Resolution to Approve a Category 9 Special Exception (SPEX08-MA-013) to Operate a Hunting Preserve, and a Category 9 Special Permit (SPPT08-MA-032) for Clay Target Shooting and a Firing Range


Topic Description:

Marriott Ranch has requested Special Exception approval to use 200+/- acres of its 4,200+/- acres as a Hunting Preserve.  It has also requested a Special Permit to offer clay target shooting at a designated site on the property and a firing range.  These uses would be for private groups, by appointment, and not open to the general public.

The applicant has indicated that the aforementioned uses would generate revenue to help pay the operational expenses of maintaining the 4,200 acre farm.  Further, they say the plan is conducive to Agritourism as promoted by Fauquier County.  The proposed additions to the Marriott Ranch portfolio of activities would be compatible with programs already in place at Marriott Ranch, and would not require any new construction or changes to the landscape.

The locations for the uses are proposed to be non-obtrusive to the surrounding community (see Attachment 2).  The proposed sites are all located on the interior of parcels of land on Marriott Ranch, creating a buffer zone from neighboring properties.  The sites are also easily accessed by using the current farm road systems on the property, thus creating minimal impact as no new ingress/egress is required.

Special Exception Hunting Preserve

The applicant has proposed a hunting preserve to be operated on its site in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and managed by the applicant.  It would meet all local and state regulations and laws.

  • Bird hunting would only take place, as law mandates, between September 1st and April 30th.
  • All hunters would be accompanied by trained guides who are familiar with the rules of the preserve, local and state laws, and the boundaries of the preserve.
  • Hunting would not be conducted on Sundays and would take place Monday – Saturday between the hours of 8am and 5pm.
  • There would be no more than six hunters out at one time.
  • Birds would be pen raised and released prior to the hunt.
  • Records would be kept in accordance with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries guidelines.
  • All boundaries of the hunting area would be designated by signage not more than fifty yards apart.
  • All hunters would have a valid Virginia Hunting License.
  • A buffer zone of at least 100 yards would be maintained from neighboring property lines.
  • Hunts would be led by qualified guides with professionally trained dogs.  Marriott Ranch staff would be available and on-site to assist the guides and oversee the hunting.
  • Bird hunting outside the designated preserve area would be prohibited.
  • All guests would be required to sign an acknowledgement of having read Marriott Ranch’s rules and guidelines.

Special Permit Clay Target Shooting

The applicant has proposed to have clay target shooting at its site.  This activity would only be conducted at the designated area outlined in the application (see Attachment 2). Only private groups with appointments would be allowed to participate in this program.

  • Clay target shooting would be conducted by a local, licensed and professional shooting instructor.
  • Safety, including eye and hearing protection, would be maintained at all times.
  • This would be available year round for private groups.
  • All guests would sign an acknowledgement of having read Marriott Ranch’s rules and guidelines.

Special Permit Firing Range

The applicant has proposed to have a firing range on its site to be located in the area designated on the map (see Attachment 2).  It would be used for sighting in guns prior to guests participating in the proposed hunting programs. The location is centered on the interior of the ranch property and away from adjoining properties.

  • Guests using the Firing Range would be accompanied by Marriott Ranch staff.
  • Shooters must hold a current Virginia Hunting License.
  • Shooting would only be conducted one person at a time and only during daylight hours.
  • All guests would be required to sign an acknowledgement of having read Marriott Ranch’s rules and guidelines.


Land Area, Location and Zoning:                                                  

The subject assemblage of properties consists of ± 4200 acres zoned RA (Rural Agricultural) and RC (Rural Conservation).  The property is located at 5219 Marriott Lane.

Please see Attachment 3 for Map of properties.


Neighboring Land Use:

The property is surrounded by RC and RA zoned properties.  Consistent with the RA/RC zoning categories, these properties are located in a district where agriculture and forestry are the predominant uses.


Site History: 

The aforementioned assemblage of parcels, also known as Marriott Ranch, currently has an approved Category 9 Special Exception (Outdoor Recreation – Spectator and Non-Spectator Field Events, Classes B&C).  The Special Exception was originally granted in September 1992.  The most recent renewal was approved in June 2000 with Conditions of Development and is valid for ten (10) years (until June 2010).  That approval states that the types of events are limited to the following: weddings and wedding receptions; company, corporate or organization picnic and barbecues; corporate retreats; trail rides with catered meals; youth picnic group camping; equestrian events (cutting horse competitions and clinics at the Corral site).  Uses other than these shall be allowed only upon approval by the Board of Supervisors or Board of Zoning Appeals for individual Special Exceptions or Special Permits.  These events may be conducted with for profit or for charitable community service organizations.

Per the approved Special Exception conditions, the applicant is requesting the approval of a Category 9 Special Exception (SPEX08-MA-013) to operate a hunting preserve and a Category 9 Special Permit (SPPT08-MA-032) for clay target shooting and a firing range.


 Staff and Review Agency Comments: 

Staff and Review Agency Comments are included in Attachment 4.


Summary and Recommendations:

On March 27, 2008, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on these applications.  Adjacent residents in Fauquier County and the neighboring Rappahannock County came to speak at the hearing.  Residents in general were positive about Marriott Ranch.  Their primary concern with the applications was regarding the proposed clay target shooting activities, the frequency of that use and what type of noise it may generate.  The Planning Commission postponed the item for 30 days and conducted a site visit on April 18, 2008.

Subsequent to the site visit, the Special Exception conditions were further refined, in consultation with the applicant, to indicate the following: 1) the hunting preserve would not operate on Sunday; 2) clay target shooting would not operate on Sunday; 3) the location of the clay target shooting was moved (in consultation with an adjacent property owner and Planning Commissioner McCarty); and 4) the firing range shall be used for citing of weapons by ranch guests during deer season.  The applicant has worked diligently to address concerns from citizens, the Planning Commission and staff.  The Planning Commission held a second public hearing on April 24, 2008.  Speakers at that hearing were supportive of the revised Special Exception conditions and these applications.


Planning Commission Action: 

On April 24, 2008 the Fauquier County Planning Commission unanimously approved the Special Exception and Special Permit subject to a series of conditions.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Conduct a public hearing.  If the Board of Supervisors wishes to act, Conditions of Approval, as recommended by the Planning Commission, are provided in the attached resolution.


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

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Fauquier County Department of Economic Development


1.                  Statement of Justification

2.                  Special Exception Plat

3.                  Parcel Map

4.                  Review Agency Comments


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