Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Fauquier County School Board and Learning Tree Farms, LLC, Owners

Fauquier County School Board, Applicant


June 9, 2005


Staff Lead:


Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning



Community Development


Magisterial District:


Scott District




6061-85-3109-000, 6061-85-0752-000, 6061-85-1857-000, 6061-85-1771-000, &  6061-84-1757-000



A Resolution to Approve Claude Thompson Elementary School: SPEX05-SC-030 A Category 5 Special Exception to Allow for Additions and Renovations to the Existing School and SPEX05-SC-031 A Category 20 Special Exception to Allow for an Above Ground Water Storage Tank


Topic Description: 


SPEX05-SC-030: The applicant wishes to obtain Special Exception approval under Category 5, Section 3-305.2, which would allow for additions and renovations to an existing school in the Rural Agricultural (RA) zoning district.


SPEX05-SC-031: The applicant wishes to obtain Special Exception approval under Category 20, Section 3-320.3, which would allow for an above ground water storage tank to serve the school.


Project Information:


The School Board seeks to renovate an existing school and provide improvements.  This includes upgraded student and administration facilities, provision of a well to resolve existing problems of trucking potable water to the site and traffic circulation improvements, and handicap accessibility.  The school anticipates reopening for students in August 2006.


This proposal consists of four parcels: 11.86 acres of which are in the Rural Agricultural (RA) district and 3 acres of which are in the Residential (R-1) district.  The School provides 9.5 acres of open space on the RA land per Section 3-408.3 of the Zoning Ordinance.  The Fauquier County School Board owns and operates Claude Thompson Elementary School on the site.  It currently serves kindergarten through second grade students.  The renovations and additions will upgrade systems, modernize the facility and add space for administrative and instructional areas.  The renovations would remove asbestos-containing materials from the school and provide a new well to remedy existing deficiencies and thus, discontinue the need for potable water to be trucked to the school.  With this proposal, the school could accommodate students through fifth grade.  The plans also include the option to add four additional classrooms to the second floor that could further increase student/staff capacity.  This item will be presented as an alternate bid item and will be determined based on cost.  The adjacent 3-acre parcel (PIN 6061-84-1757-000) will be conveyed to the School Board to be used for a new well, above ground water storage tank site and reserve septic drainfield site.  The parcel will be boundary line adjusted into the school site.


The proposed water storage tank, serving the school, will have capacity for approximately 32,000 gallons of water.  The 50-foot long horizontal tank will be 10 feet 6 inches in diameter.  Thus its height, including the foundation platform, will likely be no more than about 15 feet tall.  The tank color will be green so it will blend with the existing vegetation.


The existing school is approximately 35,000 square feet and the additions propose 10,000 square feet of new floor space.  This includes a multi-purpose room, classrooms, expanded administration and utility area, and circulation spaces.  Four optional classrooms would also add 4,200 square feet of space if constructed.  The school capacity will change from 291 to 391 (projection based on assumption that the four (4) proposed new classrooms are constructed, if the classrooms are not constructed the capacity will not change).


Based on the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Trip Generation, 6th Edition rate for elementary schools, vehicle trips to the existing school average 278 trips per day.  If the student capacity increases, the trip generation would increase to 374 average trips per weekday.  The proposal includes improvements to on-site parking and vehicle circulation to mitigate backups of school buses and cars on Rectortown Road during student drop-off and pickup hours.  Rectortown Road is identified as a major collector in the Comprehensive Plan.


The school was built in 1963, prior to the adoption of the Zoning Ordinance.  Per Zoning Ordinance Section 10-101.2, it is considered a legal non-conformity.  The proposed additions and renovations do not create further non-conforming conditions.  However, given the locations of buildings, playgrounds, and loading access to the building, the applicant requests the following variances/modifications:


  • Modification to the buffer yard width along the easterly property line to meet existing loading space maneuvering needs, a combination of exiting mature trees and supplemental planting will be provided for screening the parking lot.


  • Modifications to allow existing vegetation in the side and rear buffer yard to be supplemented with evergreen plantings to meet Ordinance requirements.


Claude Thompson School is an important historical resource in the County.  The preservation and renovation of the school has been embraced by the local community who seek to maintain it and to improve this site so it can continue to serve students.


Land Area, Location and Zoning:    


The property is located in Marshall at 3284 Rectortown Road (Route 710), just north of its intersection with Frogtown Road.  It is zoned Rural Agricultural (RA).  A map of the property is shown below.



Neighboring Zoning/Land Use:


The subject property is currently zoned Rural Agricultural (RA) and Residential (R-1).  It is bounded to the north and west by RA zoned property and bounded by R-1 property to the south and east.


Action Requested of the Board of Supervisors:


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


Planning Commission Recommendation:


On May 26, 2005, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the application and recommended approval, subject to the following conditions:


  1. This Special Exception is granted for and runs with the land indicated in this application and is not transferable to other land.


  1. This Special Exception is granted only for the purpose(s), structure(s) and/or uses indicated on the Special Exception Plat approved with this application, as qualified by these development conditions.


  1. A Site Plan shall be required, pursuant to Article 12 of the Zoning Ordinance.


  1. The applicant shall meet landscape and buffering requirements pursuant to the Zoning Ordinance.


  1. No new structures shall be constructed or located within 100 feet of any adjoining property line, which is in a Rural or Residential zoning district.


  1. All lighting shall be in conformance with the Fauquier County Zoning Ordinance and positioned downward, inward and shielded to eliminate glare from all adjacent properties.


  1. The elementary school shall be allowed in the Rural Agricultural and Residential (R-1) Zoning District, per the request in Special Exception SPEX05-SC-030.


  1. The elementary school shall not exceed 391 students.


  1. The applicant shall satisfy and meet the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) requirements for the two (2) existing school entrances.


  1. Stormwater management and BMPs shall be required for the site.


  1. The above ground water storage tank shall be allowed, per Special Exception SPEX05-SC-031 and Section 2-320.3 of the Zoning Ordinance.


  1. The water tank shall be a horizontal structure approximately fifty (50) feet in length, ten (10) feet six (6) inches in diameter.


  1. The water tank capacity shall be approximately 32,380 gallons to serve the school.


  1. The water tank shall be painted green to blend in with existing vegetation.


Staff Analysis


Staff and the appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and other relevant policies and regulations.  Findings, comments, and recommendations are summarized below. The actual responses from referral agencies are available upon request.




After conducting an in-office review on the above stated Special Exception, the County Soil Scientist has the following comments:


1.      The soils on these parcels are rated fair to poor for general development.  Limitations include high seasonal water table, shallow to bedrock, and/or steep slopes.


2.      The soils on these parcels are rated poor to marginal for septic systems due to high seasonal, shallow to bedrock, and/or steep slopes.


3.      One soil map unit (38B), which underlies much of the existing building, and possibly the proposed additions, has the possibility of a high shrink-swell layer.  Therefore, during site plan review, a geotechnical study will be recommended. 




The Engineering Office has reviewed the above referenced plan and has the following comments:


1.      It is not clear whether the storage tank will be on a pad.  Please provide the finished height of the tank.


2.      Stormwater Management is required if the disturbed area exceeds 10,000 square feet.




The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has reviewed the Special Exception application for the school renovation on Route 710 (Rectortown Road).  Based on that information, traffic volumes and rough estimates of trips generated by the site, VDOT is not recommending a traffic impact analysis for the school renovations.  However, in looking at the exhibit provided it appears some modifications to the existing entrances may be warranted in order to bring the access points in conformance with current standards.  This matter can be addressed with the site plan.


Summary and Recommendations:


The renovations and additions at the site will bring the school facilities up to date and remedy the existing problem of trucking potable water to the site.  In addition, with these improvements, a site of historical importance to the local community and to the County will be preserved.  As noted above, the Planning Commission has recommended approval of the school renovation and expansion, subject to conditions.  Staff concurs with this recommendation. 


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

1.       Fauquier County Department of Community Development

2.       Virginia Department of Health




1.      Special Exception Plat

2.      Statement of Justification

3.      Water Tank Schematic