MARCH 28, 2002




James Holbrook, Trustee

158 North Carolina Avenue SE

Washington, DC  20003





Schiebel Technology Inc.

7081 Lineweaver Road (Vint Hill)

Warrenton, VA  20187




Paul Bernard, P.E.

Post Office Box 861647

Warrenton, VA  20187




Special exception approval to establish an industrial use in the Rural Agricultural zoning district.  Specifically, the applicant proposes to use less than a one (1) acre portion of 331 acres of land to re-locate a business operation currently in operation at Vint Hill.  The use involves the manufacture of unmanned, remote control aerial vehicle systems, with associated office space, shop area, launching test pad and parking.  The applicant has also requested a pre-advertisement for an April Board of Supervisors hearing should the Planning Commission take action on March 28, 2002.



Approximately 1,900 feet east of Harper’s Run Road (Routes 836), near its intersection with Marsh Road (U.S. Route 17), with access via a 30-foot ingress/egress easement.






Cedar Run District





7807-84-7951-000 (252.51 acres)

7807-87-9049-000 (79.03 acres)




RA (Rural Agricultural)




RA (Rural Agricultural)

Vacant / Agricultural


RA (Rural Agricultural)

Residential and Agricultural


RA (Rural Agricultural)

Residential and Agricultural


RA (Rural Agricultural)

Residential / Vacant Agricultural Parcels


STAFF PLANNER:    Brian Davis

Project Description

The applicant, who is also the contract purchaser of the subject parcels in this application, is requesting special exception approval to establish a light industrial use in the Rural Agricultural zoning district. 

The applicant, Schiebel Technology, is the manufacturer of unmanned, remote control aerial vehicle systems.  The company’s current location at Vint Hill does not allow for expansion, so the County Economic Development Office has been working with the applicant to find an alternative site within the County to re-locate the business.

In keeping with the requirements of Article 3-317 of the Zoning Ordinance, less than one acre (0.998 acres) is proposed to be used for the industrial use.  Within this area, there would be an 8,300 square foot building with a height not to exceed 35 feet, 32 parking spaces, a test launch and landing area for the equipment (approximately 60 feet by 60 feet), six light poles (14 feet in height) and landscaping.  The proposed one-acre industrial site is located in the southwest corner of the 252-acre parcel, approximately 200 feet from the western property line.  The site would be accessed by an existing 30-foot easement, and is approximately 2,000 feet from State Route 836.  The existing easement is proposed to be improved with a 16-foot wide paved road.  The new structure would be approximately 200 feet from the nearest property line, and landscaping would be planted along that property line to buffer potential visual impacts.  A proposed drainfield area is delineated in the northeastern portion of the 252 acre parcel, approximately 2,400 feet from the proposed building location.

The specifics of the business include Monday through Friday, single-shift operations with hours from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and no more than 25 employees.  The applicant estimates that the use will generate approximately 62 vehicle trips per day, primarily by employees and UPS/Federal Express-type delivery vehicles.  With regard to outdoor activities, it is noted that the unmanned remote controlled aerial vehicles would be tested occasionally, primarily for take-off and landing tests.  This area is delineated on the special exception plat.  The applicant has noted that the vehicles can fly to a maximum height of about 8,500 feet, but that typical operations are between 500 and 1,000 feet above ground level.  There is currently no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirement for licensing of or restriction to unmanned aerial vehicles, beyond a prohibition from controlled airspace.  The applicant also states that sound impacts are similar to or less than that of a chainsaw or remote controlled model airplane.

Staff Analysis (See Attachment 2)


With the incorporation of the proposed development conditions found in Attachment 1, it is staff’s evaluation that the majority of this application is in substantial conformance with the Comprehensive Plan and the applicable Zoning Ordinance provisions.  Should the Planning Commission choose to forward this application with a recommendation of approval, staff recommends that such action be subject to the proposed conditions in Attachment 1.


1.        Proposed Development Conditions

2.        Staff Analysis

3.        Applicant’s Statement of Justification

4.        VDOT Review

5.        Health Department Review

6.        Soil Scientist Review

7.       County Engineer Review  

8.       Map 1, Map 2, Map 3, Map 4, House Drawing



Staff and appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance and other relevant policies and regulations.  An analysis of these referrals follows below and the actual comments from the appropriate agencies are included as attachments.


1.       Comprehensive Plan

The subject property is designated for rural agricultural uses in the Comprehensive Plan, and as required by the Zoning Ordinance, 95% of the area would be restricted to an open space use, thereby providing a conservation use consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.  The one acre delineated for the proposed use is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan goal of encouraging economic development which will result in net tax benefit, create needed job opportunities and support other adopted goals.  By retaining 95% of this land in open space the other plan goals of protecting and promoting agricultural industry and protecting environmental resources can be satisfied with this application.

Further, it is staff’s evaluation that the introduction of this proposed use, with certain conditions, would not be entirely out of character with the area, as there are already commercial and industrial-type uses in the immediate area near Route 17.

2.       Zoning Ordinance

The following standards are set forth for an industrial use in the agricultural zoning district:

1.      Outdoor activities and storage in conjunction with such uses shall be effectively screened.

The remote location of the one-acre use site, combined with the proposed landscaping, will screen outdoor activities.  Clearly, the aerial aspects associated with the use cannot be entirely screened, but a condition prohibits any aircraft from flying over land other than that included in the application and should be less intrusive than airplanes flying overhead.

2.      No retail sales connected with such use shall be conducted on the premises.

There is no retail component of this use indicated in the application, and a condition further prohibits retail activity on the site.

3.      Such a use shall not substantially reduce, impede or conflict with agricultural operations conducted in the vicinity.

It is staff’s evaluation that the proposed intensity of the use (single shift operation, weekdays only) combined with the remote area and with approximately 330 acres of open space with continued lease farming will not substantially impact surrounding farm operations.  As noted previously, there are already commercial and industrial-type uses already established in this immediate vicinity.

4.      Open space shall be provided for such uses in the amounts for the following zoning districts:

Agriculture       95%

Conservation   95%

With only one acre occupied by the proposed use, approximately 330 acres (99%) is left as effective open space.  A proposed condition also specifies no subdivision of the subject property may be permitted without amendment to the special exception.

5.      Such uses shall be separated from all property lines in distance of not less than one hundred (100) feet.

The special exception plat, which will be attached to the conditions of approval, indicates the proposed structure to be approximately 200 feet from the closest property line; therefore, this standard is satisfied.

6.      Such a use shall have direct access to a road designated as a major collector (or higher) in the Comprehensive Plan unless the Board of Supervisors or the Board of Zoning Appeals finds that the type and amount of traffic generated by the facility is such that it will not cause an undue impact on the neighbors or adversely affect safety of road usage.  Such alternative access shall be to a road designated in the Comprehensive Plan no lower than rural minor collector or urban local.

Although there is no direct access to a major collector, this property does have access to Route 17 (major collector) via a rural minor collector road through two separate access points with turn lanes and cross overs.  In addition, it should be noted that under the sliding scale density rate, these combined parcels have the potential to yield 17 residential lots which could generate 170 vehicle trips per day.  The applicant’s engineer estimates a daily rate of 62 vehicles associated with this use, which would be conditioned from further subdivision.

7.      The minimum lot size requirement shall be two hundred (200) acres.

The subject parcels are 252 acres and 79 acres; therefore, this standard is satisfied.

8.       New structures shall be compatible with the character of the area.

Staff has conditioned that the building façade be similar to either a residential structure or agricultural building.  Additionally, the building height will not exceed 35 feet, which is the permitted building height for any structure in the agricultural zoning district.

3.       Transportation

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has noted no comment with respect to the application, but will address entrance design at the time of site plan approval. Staff has prepared a development condition requiring a 2-way entrance at Harper’s Run Road to prevent traffic conflicts on the state road.  Specific design details will be established at site plan review, but the applicant should be aware that VDOT may require a wider entrance than the 16-foot width proposed.

4.       Environmental

The County Engineer has noted that commercial well and septic drainfield requirements should be satisfied, along with stormwater management and best management practices.  It is also noted that limits of disturbance should be restricted to those areas shown on the special exception plat.  These concerns have been incorporated into development conditions.

The County Soil Scientist has noted that there are shrink-swell clays on the property, so final site placement may be subject to special engineering and design.  This concern has been incorporated into a development condition.  Alternative drainfield systems are likely due to soil conditions.